Friday, July 26, 2013

All Our Pretty Songs by Sarah McCarry

* 1/2

The first book in an exciting YA trilogy, this is the story of two best friends on the verge of a terrifying divide when they begin to encounter a cast of strange and mythical characters.

Set against the lush, magical backdrop of the Pacific Northwest, two inseparable best friends who have grown up like sisters—the charismatic, mercurial, and beautiful Aurora and the devoted, soulful, watchful narrator—find their bond challenged for the first time ever when a mysterious and gifted musician named Jack comes between them. Suddenly, each girl must decide what matters most: friendship, or love. What both girls don’t know is that the stakes are even higher than either of them could have imagined. They’re not the only ones who have noticed Jack’s gift; his music has awakened an ancient evil—and a world both above and below which may not be mythical at all. The real and the mystical; the romantic and the heartbreaking all begin to swirl together, carrying the two on journey that is both enthralling and terrifying.

And it’s up to the narrator to protect the people she loves—if she can.

What I liked …

The story is really well written and evokes some very strong images. The close sister-like relationship between the narrator and Aurora was very touching. They hung out all the time, partied together, went to shows together. It was very obvious that while Aurora was the impulsive shining star that people tended to gravitate toward, the narrator was the one who grounded them and protected them from harm.  I also liked the many musical references that reflected the various changing moods of the characters or set the tone for the scenes.

The other …

There were elements of this story that I was very uncomfortable with.  Like my reaction to Uses For Boys, I apparently I can’t stomach crap parenting in books.  I just felt that these two young girls were so lost, especially Aurora who was spiraling rapidly down a very, very dark hole that there was no way her friend could help her get out of it. 

And then there was the strange combination of reality and the supernatural that made me wonder if the characters were high the entire time.  To be honest, it got absurdly creepy with the introduction of a seedy character named Minos.  At this point, I was hoping someone would come along and save these girls from themselves.   The ending absolutely unsettled me.

I chose this without a clue about the plot. Admittedly, this is not the kind of story that I would naturally pick up for myself. It’s just not my thing but I give credit to Sarah McCarry because her vivid descriptions did create a range of images in my mind from sweet to weird to grotesque. In the end, every writer wants to succeed at drawing you into the world they conceive and this one certainly did.

~ Bel

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