Saturday, 27 July 2013

Velveteen by Daniel Marks

Published:October 9 2012
Publisher:Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Website: Author's Website

            Velveteen was murdered by a ruthless serial killer named Bonesaw when she was 16. Now she haunts him. The real problem is that she is stuck in Purgatory, and she has a job: to bring back souls that are “stuck” in the daylight.

            From the blurb you’ll find on the dust jacket, you’ll think that this is about Velvet’s revenge against the serial killer who murdered her and others. That would have been awesome, but it isn’t what this book is ultimately about. Let me save you some confusion and tell you to pay attention to the parts with the Departurists.

            There is a profound inability to explain the world in this book. There are a lot of unknowns, such as the concept of heaven, hell, and purgatory, etc, and that is alright. Can you imagine just arriving there with a biblical or other belief of an afterlife? And no one has the answers, just speculations. They just go with it. You fulfill some mysterious criteria-such as personal growth-and you fade away into ash. Fine. But the explanation of how souls arrive is vague, as is how the other team gets stuff back into purgatory, especially when you can’t take things, including your own clothes, into the daylight.  
            What is explained isn’t explained very well. Then Velvet and others explain everything again to the newcomer, Nick. Let me fix this, Mr. Author. The team explained the basics to Nick. He constantly questioned everything, Velvet was rude and ordered him to listen, belittling him in the process. Do you know how many pages could be cut if this was done?    
            In an early action part of the book, suddenly they become the A Team and it’s all, “Btw, we all basically have super powers.” Ok, that was extremely lame. Why do they, who are ghosts, all have different abilities? Is it how they died? How they lived? Don’t ask me; it wasn’t explained.
            The writing in this is muddy and erratic. The action scenes are so jumbled I hated reading them. The main conflict isn’t about Bonesaw, it’s about the Departurists, who come in about midway through the book. The characters are all obvious clichés. Has the author ever seen a group of young people sit around at a bar-like setting and heard them speak? The dialogue at the first salon is so forced I was bored to tears. Pro Tip: If you’re going to write about young people, have a clue about them.     

            The cover can’t be true to the book. In Purgatory, it seems that people wear mostly drab clothes-stuff that can be brought back can’t be that appealing or else it wouldn’t be “lost”. They also smear themselves with ash. There is Nick on the cover, crisp white shirt and black vest. Nothing like his outfit when he died. Velvet is there with a million earrings. So…who went out and got all those earrings to bring back? The whole thing just looks dumb. I almost put the book down without reading it, but I read the blurb first and decided to ignore the stupid cover.

            Velvet is supposed to be the bad-ass, in-charge, snarky one. She seems so inconsistent it’s ridiculous. I understand where the author is trying to go, but I don’t think he is a very convincible writer of real women. She comes off as selfish and annoying. I believe the author wanted us to look at her and think that she is so tough and cool. But she isn’t. She’s unrealistic and cliché and she needs a slap in the face most of the time.
            Nick is simply bland, or annoying. I know he is new, but he doesn’t seem to have a personality aside from liking Velvet, and that’s a quality, not a personality trait. Oh, wait, he’s a hawt boy, that’s something. No, wait, it isn’t a personality trait.
            Mostly, everyone else is terribly flat. I liked Manny, the Station Agent. She has an appearance that is different, and she has a personality and back story from when she was alive. Why wasn’t everyone else so interesting? Common, author, I know you have it in you!  

Love Story
            The love story is inconsistent because Velvet as a character is inconsistent and Nick feeds off her inconsistencies. She pretty much goes like this: Wow he’s so hawt I can’t stop staring at him. But OMG I can’t love him. He’s so hawt I hate him just for that. And he’s wearing a basketball uniform so I assume he’s a jerk and I’m a goth so I have to hate him. Wait, let’s make out. BTW, I still don’t know you, so don’t get any ideas. Oh, shit, I do like you. Never mind, I don’t want a relationship. It’s against the rules. Oh, rules be damned, lets make out! You know what? F-off. I don’t know you.
            Hey, you know what this is called? Inconsistent and bad writing.       

Degradation of My Name
            Page 45 of the hardcover has the following sentences: “It’s possible that Bart hadn’t heard the slur against his vocal prowess. He was busy chocking his girlfriend, Courtney, with his tongue. He seriously looked like he was going to eat her.”
            -10 points from Mr. Marks’s House.

The Ending
            The ending was so forced. I still can’t wrap my head about how absurdly obvious some aspects are, yet the why Velvet question, for me, remains unanswered. I’d really like someone to explain it more. The big battle and how it ends is also a bit jumbled in my head. I’d like to know how they got from point A, the battlefield, to point B, safety.  

            Do I recommend it? If you’re bored. The Bonesaw bits were the most interesting, but she keeps leaving! Hey, you know all the stuff you want to do? Like save the girl in the barn? Why don’t you do it? Nope, she keeps going back to Purgatory. The world isn’t explained very well. The characters are only half-realized. Something good? Velveteen is an awesome name. If teens like paranormal books about the afterlife spiced up with some good action, I’d recommend this in a pinch, especially if they have read all the books in the library already. Better for older teens in high school, as the world is a bit hard to follow most of the time.


  1. I read this book too. Total waste of a week when I could have been reading something more interesting.

    The way you explained Nick and Velveteen's 'relationship' was perfect. I. Can't. Stop. Laughing. :P

    1. The more I think of it...the more I hate the publisher for putting in such a misleading blurb for the description.

      But it's not like the guy can write women or relationships anyway. Are you going to read the sequel?

    2. Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. They are making a sequel to this??