Author: Darynda Jones
Series: Darklight #1
Publication Date: October 2, 2012
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 271 (paperback)
Darynda Jones, author of The New York Times bestselling series that began with First Grave on the Right, brings us Death and the Girl Next Door, a thrilling Young Adult novel garnering high praise and early buzz from major authors
Ten years ago, Lorelei's parents disappeared without a trace. Raised by her grandparents and leaning on the support of her best friends, Lorelei is finally beginning to accept the fact that her parents are never coming home. For Lorelei, life goes on.
High school is not quite as painful as she thinks it will be, and things are as normal as they can be. Until the day the school's designated loner, Cameron Lusk, begins to stalk her, turning up where she least expects it, standing outside her house in the dark, night after night. Things get even more complicated when a new guy—terrifying, tough, sexy Jared Kovach—comes to school. Cameron and Jared instantly despise each other and Lorelei seems to be the reason for their animosity. What does Jared know about her parents? Why does Cameron tell Jared he can't have Lorelei? And what will any of them do when Death comes knocking for real? Thrilling, sassy, sexy, and inventive, Darynda Jones's first foray into the world of teens will leave readers eager for the next installment.
I was a huge fan of Darynda's Charley Davidson series, so I was really looking into her foray into the young adult world. I went into this knowing it wouldn't be like her adult series, but I expected the same form of writing and Darynda's easy ability to make me laugh. I was disappointed by all aspects. Perhaps because it was the fact that my expectations were so high due to her adult series. But after reading this book, I feel as if I lost a bit of Darynda's amazing writing style. Her ability to make us laugh and write plot lines like a professional was completely thrown out the window. Instead this book was hard to follow, didn't execute the plot to the fullest extent, and was littered with young adult cliches that I try my best to avoid as a reader.
Everything started going downhill with chapter two. The first chapter introduced us to Lor and her friends Glitch and Brooke, who I love immensely because they did provide the few bits of humorous relief in the book. But once we were introduced to Jared and Cameron, the plot started to go downward. This is literally a love at first sight type thing. New boy who is extremely suspicious shows up at school, hits on plain girl while hot popular girl tries to get in the way, new boy is such a supernova that he cannot be ignored, girl is a lost puppy without him. Then we throw in the fact that the random yet hot loner kid is suddenly stalking the plain girl, too. Not a love triangle, but full of cliche.
The first third of the book did nothing but confuse me. There was a lot of paranormal aspects in the book that went awry. There was a lot of fighting, both Cameron and Jared were acting like psychopaths, and I had no idea why they were able to pause time and hit each other with trucks and somehow survive and randomly do a whole bunch of things. It was all so random. The attempted action that went wrong tempted me into DNFing the book, but I reminded myself that I love Darynda's writing and kept going.
The middle of the book and ending redeemed it somewhat because the plot did move along well. I finally began to understand things once Cameron and Jared's true identities were revealed. If such a thing happened sooner, I probably would have enjoyed this book ten times more because I wouldn't have gotten so frustrated with my immense confusion. However, this book took male machoness to an entirely new level. Jared and Cameron were constantly going at it... crowbars, bats, planks of wood, magical powers, fists--you name it, they used it. It was too much and overly done.
There was also a heavy case of insta-love in this one. Jared was too gorgeous to be ignored and Lorelei--a girl who never gets male attention--latched onto him immediately. She was impulsive, she went along with whatever Cameron or Jared told her to do, rarely stood up for herself, and let her feelings rule everything just so that we'd have to endure her crying about her decisions days later because she didn't think things through. I didn't enjoy her characterization at all. I liked Jared's more because he is a being of both light and dark. The way he described his feelings for Lorelei, as quick as they arrived and as unbelievable as they are, were amazing. She was his light, his ever-burning fire, and it was absolutely romantic and powerful. Moments such as those made up for the lackluster romance and odd plot line.
This book had so much potential. If you have a book with angels, demons, prophets, secret orders, and poltergeists, you have a recipe for amazingness within your grasp. But this book fell short of all expectations because all aspects of this potentially wonderful plot were not pulled together properly. Instead, things simply happened to help move the plot along. People would conveniently pop in out of nowhere when they were needed, the characters were over-dramatic and emotional, and there were very few plot twists that I didn't see coming. Those that surprised me were amazing, but they didn't make up for the fact that a great majority of the book was predictable. The originality used to weave the tale was amazing as well, but that can't make up for its flaws.
Overall, I'd recommend taking this one out of the library if you're curious about it. I plan on continuing the series because I love Jones and I want my faith restored in her writing. I feel as if I randomly lost her along the way with this one, and I want her back. Since the book did get better after the weird beginning, I'm hoping the sequel will be stronger because there is no need to reintroduce Jared and Cameron again.