Monday, 16 June 2014

Dark Metropolis by Jaclyn Dolamore

Dark Metropolis
Jaclyn Dolamore
[June 17, 2014]
ARC acquired at ALAMW

Cabaret meets Cassandra Clare-a haunting magical thriller set in a riveting 1930s-esque world.

Sixteen-year-old Thea Holder's mother is cursed with a spell that's driving her mad, and whenever they touch, Thea is chilled by the magic, too. With no one else to contribute, Thea must make a living for both of them in a sinister city, where danger lurks and greed rules.
Thea spends her nights waitressing at the decadent Telephone Club attending to the glitzy clientele. But when her best friend, Nan, vanishes, Thea is compelled to find her. She meets Freddy, a young, magnetic patron at the club, and he agrees to help her uncover the city's secrets-even while he hides secrets of his own.

Together, they find a whole new side of the city. Unrest is brewing behind closed doors as whispers of a gruesome magic spread. And if they're not careful, the heartless masterminds behind the growing disappearances will be after them, too.

Perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare, this is a chilling thriller with a touch of magic where the dead don't always seem to stay that way.

So, this book was pitched to me at ALAMW as Pushing Daisies in the 1920s. Having read it and used it for an in-depth school assignment, I can largely agree with this (despite never watching Pushing Daisies), but it really didn't matter to me. Jaclyn Dolamore wrote it and I will forever be her fangirl and read everything she publishes, so I NEEDED this book no matter what. Also, can we take a moment to appreciate how GORGEOUS this cover is? It uses to the usual YA cover formula of a girl in a pretty outfit, but then twists it on it's head with the typography and lighting and overlay and I love it so much.

And I loved this book so, so much. Jaclyn Dolamore writes some of the most unique YA out there and is SO under appreciated for it. I mean, it's an alternative history - 1927 Germany - with diversity and a twist on zombies. It also makes you consider serious questions about mortality and what lengths you would go to in order to stay with your loved ones I did have a few technical issues with it, but it didn't stop me from loving it.

DARK METROPOLIS has three main characters - Thea, Nan, and Freddy. All have really interesting, important stories to tell that weave together beautifully until we finally understand the relationships. I liked all of them, but I felt like all could have been developed more. I understood them and what their motivations were and enough of their back story that it didn't bother me - I still connected with them - but on reflection, I would've liked a little more personality from each of them and I'm anticipating it happening in the sequel.

There are two romantic relationships, one straight and one lesbian relationship. Both were so adorable and, while the connections may have been quick, the relationships themselves were kind of slow builds and the characters had great chemistry in both. They were adorable and I'm SO pumped to see more of them in book 2. NEVER ENOUGH KISSING GUYS. THERE'S NEVER ENOUGH. On top of that, there were some really fascinating and complex relationships between the main characters and their parents and guardians. Not a single one of them was simple, but they each had a ton of layers the characters had to work through.

The world itself was fascinating to me. It was recognizable, yet still very clearly different from reality. I actually didn't know it was based on Germany when I read it, so I even thought it could be more related to the 1930s and the Great Depression (though it makes more sense now). It was a morally and politically complicated world with a wide range of characters. I felt like it could have used some more world building as there wasn't a ton of explanation of certain things, like why all magic was banned and how things came to be, but it wasn't totally necessary. Like I mentioned, it was really similar to the real world, so a lot of those gaps were easy to fill in with the real history, and this was another thing that didn't bother me until I had to reflect on it for my project (which basically was to find flaws). But this is another thing I think may be explored more in book 2.

One thing there are zero flaws in is the story itself. It's creepy and twisty and thought provoking. There's never a dull moment and everything leads back to the question of what would you do if you knew there was a way to see your dead family members again at a price. Would you say good bye or would you let them go? And the zombies were generally not too bad, but then there would be these scenes where they were incredibly creepy. That's the kind of skill Jaclyn Dolamore has with her writing and her plotting. Complex and beautifully written and engaging but still creepy when it's necessary.

Basically, it wasn't a perfect book and it's flaws could've been major, but in context, they were relatively minor things that didn't bother me until quite a bit after I read it. I would still consider DARK METROPOLIS a favorite read and strongly encourage you to read this, or at least one of Jaclyn's books because there's nothing quite like them in YA.


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