Velveteen (Velveteen #1) Featured
At sixteen, Velveteen Monroe was kidnapped and murdered by a madman named Bonesaw. But that's not the problem. The problem is she landed in the City of the Dead. And while it's not a fiery inferno, it's certainly no heaven either. Grey, ashen and crumbling more and more by the day, and everyone has a job to do there. Which doesn't leave Velveteen much time to do anything about what’s really on her mind.Bonesaw. Velveteen aches to deliver the bloody punishment he deserves. And she's figured out just how to do it. She'll haunt him for the rest of his days. It'll be brutal...and awesome. But crossing the divide between the living and the dead has devastating consequences. Velveteen’s obsessive haunting could actually crack the foundation of her new world, not to mention jeopardize her very soul. A risk she’s willing to take—except fate has just given her reason to stick around: an unreasonably hot and completely off-limits coworker. Velveteen can’t help herself when it comes to breaking rules . . . or getting revenge. And she just might be angry enough to take everyone down with her.
Velveteen is another novel with a whole lot of hype surrounding its release. The premise sounds so insane and creepy that this should come as no surprise. A dystopia about the dead? Serial killers? Purgatory? Strong heroine? That's all kinds of awesome, right? Well, I definitely think so.
My first recommendation is not to come into Velveteen looking for a dystopia. There really isn't anything particularly dystopian here, although I do see some definite possibility for there to be a big reveal of evil government at work later in the series. This could have been a huge disappointment, because obviously I love dystopias, but the whole of the story was so delightfully fresh and funny that I wasn't particularly bothered.
On Twitter, I've seen people tweeting Daniel Marks as they read through this book. They commented how grossed out they were and how horrified. Well, I really didn't have any moments where I was overwhelmed by the ick or horror factors. Maybe I just have a strong stomach, but I doubt it, since I can't watch a horror movie without hiding through pretty much all of it. There are gross things that happen, but they're no worse than what I've encountered in all the zombie novels I've read. So, basically, if you don't often read macabre things, Velveteen might freak you out, but, otherwise, I wouldn't worry unduly.
Actually, more than anything else, I thought Velveteen was hilarious. Humor of course is very subjective. I suspect most readers will either love or hate Velveteen, depending on whether you think Daniel Marks' humor is funny or obnoxious. For me, it totally worked. If you're concerned, you might want to watch some of Marks' vlogs and see if you like his style.
The description of the novel makes a big deal about Velvet's desire for revenge against her murderer, Bonesaw. While this certainly is a plot point, it's actually a fairly minor plot arc, important to the story, but definitely not the focus of Marks' grisly tale. Still, he definitely wove this arc perfectly into the larger tale.
The focus of the novel is, instead, on the tensions within Purgatory. There is a revolution happening in Purgatory. The Departurists believe that the powers that be within Purgatory are preventing them from moving on and unfairly keeping them from the daylight (aka the world of the living). The revolutionaries are somehow causing bigger and bigger cracks to form in Purgatory, by trapping souls in daylight and causing shadowquakes. The world building on this Purgatory was crazy cool for sure.
Within Purgatory, there are jobs, ranging just as widely, although differently, from those in our world. Our heroine, Velvet, has one of the best jobs, as a salvager team leader. Scavengers enter daylight to save trapped souls, putting an end to shadowquakes and protecting Purgatory. This gives them a rare chance to travel to daylight and is also just really cool, since you need special abilities to do it. Teams consist of four: one body thief, who takes over the body of a living human temporarily, one undertaker, who takes over a dead body and becomes a zombie, and two poltergeists, who stay ghosty but have a natural power to move things in that form. Velvet and her team are the best and they love what they do. On one of their missions, they rescue Nick, aka love interest.
Now, we must talk about Velveteen. She is an amazing heroine, assuming you like them sarcastic, closed-off, and a bit violent. Thankfully, I do. If you're sick of all of the wimpy, clutsy, obedient heroines that can't do anything but moan about boys, you will love Velvet, as she is the antithesis of all things Bella. Similar heroines are Lex from Croak or Ashline from Wildefire. Velvet has a smart mouth and is quick to resort to physical violence. Just to give you an idea of the kind of girl we'll dealing with: she dressed up as Alex from A Clockwork Orange at one point. She felt real to me, and she read like a female.
Her romance with Nick also totally worked. There was definitely instalust, but Velvet is not the kind of girl to mistake that for love. She initially thinks he looks like and probably is an asshole. There's lots of kissing, because she's not the kind of girl who is against having a little fun. Though Nick and Velvet's relationship does progress fairly quickly emotionally, there's a natural flow to it. The two really do have a rapport. They have real conversations, develop little inside jokes, and have awesome witty banter. Their chemistry is fantastic.
So yeah, I thought this was a fantastic ride, entertaining and funny from beginning to end. I definitely anticipate Marks' next macabre tale!
Dark & Fascinating
What I Loved:
SO MUCH. Velveteen is smart, sassy, damaged, brave, terrified, and startlingly self-aware of the breadth of her own psychological shortcomings. She walks a fine line between sociopath and goth girl (at least in her own head), but truly, she possesses more honor and courage than she ever gives herself credit for. She made for a fascinating narrator, and I was invested in the outcome of her story.
I also loved the world. I couldn't find any cracks in the world building, and the entire story has a grim, dreamlike quality that perfectly reflects the purgatory setting.
Finally, I really loved the high stakes, both for Velvet personally and for purgatory (and "daylight"--living souls on Earth) as well. I was invested in the outcome of both, and couldn't wait to turn the pages to find out what happened next.
What Left Me Wanting More:
While I adored Velvet and felt connected to her, the rest of the characters didn't come off the page for me as much. I didn't feel connected to them (including Nick, the love interest), and would forget them the second they left the page. It's possible this is a by-product of Velvet's self-focused style of narration, and her difficulty in feeling a connection to others, but I even have a hard time picturing very much about what those characters looked like.
Once Nick shows up, the romance begins, and there are some lovely moments where Velvet wrestles with this unexpected and unwelcome attraction. But overall, the romance felt a little rushed, and I couldn't connect enough with their scenes together to ever feel swoony over it.
This is a fascinating gothic tale with an intriguing narrator and a grimly perfect setting. There is violence and some gore, and some content (the scenes with the serial killer especially) that might be disturbing to younger or more sensitive readers. I loved the book, and I eagerly await the sequel!
Dark, twisted and hauntingly romantic.
This was an interesting read for me and I hope I'm able to articulate what my thoughts are. Sometimes, what's swirling around in my pink-striped head makes a ton of sense but comes out a lump of garbled confusion that leaves even me thinking, "Whaaat?" So, here goes...
The title and cover of this book are what caught my attention - It's beautiful and dark and I just loved it. Having grown up Catholic, purgatory was drilled into my subconscious as the literal holding cell along the way to Heaven. Even though I later became a Christian and no longer believe in such a place, I sure imagined it enough as a kid and this story sounded interesting.
Velveteen is dark, twisted and morbidly graphic at times, unlike anything I've ever read, but the writing is fantastic! Velveteen Monroe (one of the coolest MC names ever) is an angry, bitter girl hell-bent on revenge and with good reason. She's been kidnapped and murdered, she's stuck in purgatory and her killer is still free to continue torturing and killing more girls. Where's the fairness in that? I'd probably be a little upset too.
The souls stuck in purgatory aren't stuck forever though. They "dim" at some point where they either go on to Heaven or Hell but no one really knows when or why the dimming happens. (It DID upset me that there were babies there. I have personal reasons for this and there's just no getting around that but yeah, babies always get a fast-pass to Heaven.) There are rules of purgatory and the big one is no haunting. Period. If you're caught, you're condemned to a "life" in purgatory forever. (Gray might be the "new black" but no one looks good in it for all eternity - just sayin'). Velvet breaks this "no haunting" rule each time she sneaks out to visit Bonesaw but she does have an ulterior motive when she goes and it's to try and save other girls from her same fate. See, some rule breaking serves a greater purpose. That should count for something, right?
Velvet leads the best team of Salvagers in purgatory and exudes the attitude of "making the best of the situation". Her co-workers respect her and she has a few friends despite her "cheery" personality. Kipper is a trip and the twins Louisa and Logan are a mix of childishness and preteen angst. Velvet has enemies too, mainly in mean-girl Isadora and her wannabes. Life or should I say, death as Velvet knows it is about to change, mainly in the form of Nick. *fans face* He's the impossibly cute guy Velvet and her team rescue, the one who seems intent on breaking down the barriers of both her world and her heart. (I *hearts* him BTW!)
Nick is hot, funny and makes Velvet feels things she never thought possible, things that would scare her to death if she wasn't already dead. He's also off-limits as her newest team member which kinda complicates things. Nick gets Velvet to see the good in herself, something she's never really considered before. *swoons* Their moments together are a combination of frustration and swoon that left me holding my breath wondering if one of them was going to "dim" at any moment, leaving the other utterly heart broken (and me too). Who knew purgatory could be so romantic?!
There are souls who aren't content with their current state in purgatory and don't want to be there for long, who refuse to wait their turn to "dim". (They should get a first class ticket to Fire & Brimstone Acres for being so impatient). They want out now! Before the book ends, secrets will be uncovered and Velveteen will suffer a heart breaking betrayal. As if she hasn't been through enough already? *clutches chest* While she's never been one to "go with the flow", she'll have to decide what's more important, following the rules or getting revenge because the choices she makes now could have a devastating affect on the souls of everyone she cares about.
Background: Velveteen is murdered by a man named Bonesaw-- now you are probably asking why I am already telling you this very important detail to the story -- well it is because we never actually see that part. We meet Velveteen (Velvet) in Purgatory after she is already well past dead and gone, she works for the Salvage team, going back to the Daylight (the living side) to return spirits to Purgatory. On one outing she brings back a spirit called Nick and they really hit it off, which is all well and good except that Purgatory is on the verge of destruction by a group called the Departurists who are trying to leave Purgatory to live new lives in the bodies of the currently living.
Review: So as many of you may know, it took me over a month to finish this book. Granted I have been in a reading slump but I found it very hard to relate to the characters, so reading was challenging for me. Velvet is interesting she is sarcastic and mean and very much a loner who tries to keep to herself and not show her true emotions to anyone, but i felt like she also wasn't a complete character, because even though the story is written from her point of view, she still seems to lack that emotion. And if I am in your head (so to speak) there should be more emotion. Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy the plot of this book, Purgatory was an awesome setting and a new frontier for YA books, it isn't a dystopian NYC or LA, it was Purgatory, limbo-- which equates to dystopia anyway. I found this very clever on Mr. Marks part.
I would have liked to enter before Velvet dies, but I can see where that may have made the book a lot longer in relation to the things occurring in Purgatory. On that note, I think the plot was very good, you have a romance brewing and you have all out chaos it was beautiful. So I did end up giving the book 4 stars.
I think if you are interested in the darker, macabre try stories this one will suit you, note that there are some very mushy teenage romance bits but overall the dark and disturbing are very well done. I was just looking for a little more teenage brooding... :/
Hobbitsies Reviews: Something different and weird and original and creepy
Review originally posted on my blog http://hobbitsies.net/2012/10/velveteen-by-daniel-marks/
Velvet was an interesting protagonist, that’s for sure. She was so likeably unlikable, it’s hard for me to explain. And she felt very genuine, which was awesome. I’m always curious to see how male authors write female protagonists and vice versa, and I think Daniel Marks pulled it off very well in Velveteen.
And I seriously loved Nick. That is all I have to say about that.
Velveteen by Daniel Marks isn’t my typical read. I don’t usually do paranormal, and as much as I love disturbing and weird books, I don’t usually gravitate towards them. But I genuinely really enjoyed Velveteen by Daniel Marks. It was something different and weird and original and creepy.
Velveteen started off so promising! A spunky, take-charge heroine hell-bent on seeking revenge on her killer? Yes! But I quickly realized that Velveteen was going to be much more about the inner turmoil of Purgatory than about Velvet's thirst for vengeance.
Velveteen's opening scenes were brillant - frustrated over Bonesaw's nonchalance over being haunted, Velvet can't help but flash back to when she was being held captive. While flooding his kitchen, her worst fears are realized when she sees that he has brought home another victim, and has them tied up in his shed. But before she can reek further havoc on Bonesaw, she rushes back to Purgatory before her absence is noted as hauntings are forbidden - something about their "bad energy" causing trouble in Purgatory. It's not until about halfway through Velveteen that we get to see Bonesaw again, so to say my disappointment was great is an understatement.
I could have forgiven Velveteen's misleading blurb if I had enjoyed the direction the plot took - that of a revolution happening in Purgatory, where unhappy souls called Departurists sought to flee Purgatory permanently Unfortunately, I found Marks left too many holes in the world-building. How long has Velvet been in purgatory? Why is she given so many responsibilities at such a young age? How can someone so young hold the Purgatory record for souls collected - 57 - when Purgatory has been around for thousands of years? Why does it seem like hers is the only Salvage team in all the Latin Quarter? How many districts comprise Purgatory? What was the point of Salon? When people are hurt in Purgatory, causing their memories to leak out, why does no one seem to experience any signs of memory loss? Why do Shadowquakes show up so quickly, if it's tied to malicious intent? Shouldn't their be a gradual buildup of shadows invading Purgatory? I was always on the edge of being sucked into Velveteen's story, before being shuttled back into reality when I stumbled upon another hole.
Marks also had the strangest tendency to include a "you understand" at the end of certain passages.
"She gave him a reassuring smile and patted him on the shoulder...or right about where his shoulder would have been had he not been see-through, you understand."
It was such a jarring experience, as it took away from Velvet's first person narrative, and replaced it with a big brother-like feeling. It was almost like someone else was reading Velvet's story and inserting their thoughts every so often. I didn't understand its point, and after the first half of Velveteen it was noticeably absent, like Marks realized it shouldn't have been included to begin with.
One thing I did really enjoy though, was Velvet. She was confident and self-assured, sarcastic and bad-ass. She was mean to people, in order to keep them at a distance, but she opened up to those she really cared about. She had an amazing ability to set aside her emotions in order to get the job done, except when it came to Nick. Which made for some pretty funny moments.
"His cocky smile, the way he deflected stuff with humor, everything about him was wrong for her. If anything, he'd have to settle for her eyes wandering over his body. And that face and those eyes. And the way he was tracing the indents between his stomach muscles."
"His smile was unforgettable and unfortunate. It was the kind of smile that made knees shake, wicked and divine. Velvet clutched the railing and waited for the weird feeling shuddering through her to abate."
Unfortunately the other characters weren't nearly as memorable. Nick was constantly described in terms of his physical attributes, other than being young twins with old souls, I couldn't tell you anything about Luisa and Logan, and I had forgotten about Kipper until he made a brief reappearance at the end. Even Bonesaw was lacklustre, as his presence was minimal and unthreatening.
The romance, though passionate and heated in the face of being forbidden, was nothing more than insta-love, the plot had sections that dragged on so that I had to force myself to keep reading, and the twists with the Departurists were predictable. So even though Velveteen had a very promising blurb, it did not live up to most of my expectations.