Saturday, November 10, 2012

Dark Star by Bethany Frenette

Title: Dark Star
Author: Bethany Frenette
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Release Date: October 23, 2012
Pages: 368 pages (hardcover)
How I Got the Book: ARC in a swap with a friend
Purchase/Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Promotional Materials and More: audiobook clip | author website

Dark StarAudrey Whitticomb has nothing to fear. Her mother is the superhero Morning Star, the most deadly crime-fighter in the Twin Cities, so it's hard for Audrey not to feel safe. That is, until she's lured into the sweet night air by something human and not human--something with talons and teeth, and a wide, scarlet smile.

Now Audrey knows the truth: her mom doesn't fight crime at night. She fights Harrowers--livid, merciless beings who were trapped Beneath eons ago. Yet some have managed to escape. And they want Audrey dead, just because of who she is: one of the Kin.

To survive, Audrey will need to sharpen the powers she has always had. When she gets close to someone, dark corners of the person's memories become her own, and she sometimes even glimpses the future. If Audrey could only get close to Patrick Tigue, a powerful Harrower masquerading as human, she could use her Knowing to discover the Harrowers' next move. But Leon, her mother's bossy, infuriatingly attractive sidekick, has other ideas. Lately, he won't let Audrey out of his sight.

When an unthinkable betrayal puts Minneapolis in terrible danger, Audrey discovers a wild, untamed power within herself. It may be the key to saving her herself, her family, and her city. Or it may be the force that destroys everything--and everyone--she loves.


Before I even had the chance to read this novel, everyone and their French poodle made it clear that it was best to not let my expectations hold me back while reading this novel. Many people went into it expecting a superhero novel and got something completely different. The jacket copy really does make this sound like a superhero novel, but it turns into a book about demons and the people who fight them. Demon books! Yay! There are never enough demon books to please me. Demons > superheroes.

Frenette's worldbuilding is fantastic and despite some issues with staying interested (I'll get to those in a minute), there was never a time I didn't want to keep reading and leave all my questions about the Kin, the Harrowers, and how their world works unanswered. The prose has some pretty good moments (I want to quote some, but I forgot to mark then; darn it!) and the fight scenes are well-written most of the time.

For a little while, I worried I knew what the big twist of the novel was and that I'd yet again found a predictable novel. A streak of horrible and/or easily predictable novels lately had me wondering if I was getting too smart for YA or if YA was getting dumbed down. It turned out my prediction was wrong and a red herring got me. I came out of the book feeling happier and more satisfied than when I went in. Perhaps I'm being kinder because the last few books I've read were horrible and should not be spoken of, but that's good for Dark Star.

The biggest issue the novel has is its inability to keep readers hooked from beginning to end. Some scenes, like the cake fight and when Iris uses her amplification powers to enhance Audrey's Knowing, grabbed me by the throat and squeezed as hard as they could. Those are scenes to go back and reread. Most of the novel, unfortunately, is difficult to get swept up in. It's like there's a wall between reader and book that keeps me from being able to connect to Audrey and get invested in what she's going through. For some books, this can be a deadly flaw, but Dark Star has enough good overall to just barely save it and keep me from DNFing it due to lack of interest.

This is only the first book of a series and there are plenty of places for Frenette to go with book two. As much fun as I had, I think I'll come back, but I hope book two will be easier to connect to.

3.5 stars!

What am I reading next?: The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress