The Collector (Dante Walker #1)FeaturedHot
Dante Walker is flippin’ awesome, and he knows it. His good looks, killer charm, and stellar confidence has made him one of hell’s best—a soul collector. His job is simple, weed through humanity and label those round rears with a big red good or bad stamp. Old Saint Nick gets the good guys, and he gets the fun ones. Bag-and-tag.
Sealing souls is nothing personal. Dante’s an equal opportunity collector and doesn’t want it any other way. But he’ll have to adjust, because Boss Man has given him a new assignment:
Collect Charlie Cooper’s soul within 10 days.
Dante doesn’t know why Boss Man wants Charlie, nor does he care. This assignment means only one thing to him, and that’s a permanent ticket out of hell. But after Dante meets the quirky, Nerd Alert chick he’s come to collect—he realizes this assignment will test his abilities as a collector, and uncover emotions deeply buried.
Victoria Scott's writing is unconventional. Given the nature of Dante's casual demeanor and way of speaking, her writing reflects this and it was a bit offputting at first, since I was not used to seeing such casual prose. It grew on me as the book went on, since it was so natural to Dante's voice.
The story's other main character, Charlie, is not beautiful. She is at best average, and I loved her strength and wit. She is happy with herself the way she is and I think she is a great example of what more heroines (and heroes) in literature need to be like.
There is something to be said about Victoria Scott's talent as writer, given my investment in the characters. There is a certain character whose well being I am very concerned about, given the nature of the events at the book's end. I really need to know how things are going to work out in book 2, The Liberator, because I am awfully concerned. It is rare for me to feel such emotion for characters after I've turned the last page, which makes books like The Collector a real treat.
I loved the twist Victoria Scott gave to the typical tale of good and evil, angels and demons, Heaven and Hell. It was very different from other novels in the same genre I've read, which was very refreshing.
Victoria Scott manages to tell a story in the perfect blend of contemporary and paranormal that will appeal to fans of both genres. The stakes were high the entire time, which made The Collector a wild ride that was fast paced from the get go. After the first chapter or two, I fell in love with the story and couldn't flip the pages fast enough.
The Collector is a fantastic debut from Victoria Scott. She is certainly an author to watch. The Collector was enticing and real. I am very excited to see what will be next for the fantastic characters of The Collector in its sequel, The Liberator.
Okay, so Dante is just as rude as he comes off from the description and the cover. Since I hate cocky guys, I expected to want to kick him in the balls all the way through the book, but he really wasn't as bad as I was expecting. He's arrogant, but really no worse than your average pampered, neglected teen. What's cool about his perspective is that Scott takes a risk with him as a narrator. If Charlie narrated this, The Collector would be a standard formula paranormal romance and Dante would appear a nicer guy overall.
See, I feel like Dante's just like a lot of the paranormal heroes in YA, only we have unrestricted access to his thought processes, not all of which are pleasant. He judges women on their appearance, often using derogatory terms like fugly. He also thinks shit like this: "If Charlie doesn't dig my get up, I'll expose her for what she is: asexual." The latter does keep me from ever really rooting for him. On the other hand, I don't completely hate him, because most of what he says and does is polite, even defending Charlie's looks to a rude salesperson, early on enough in the book that it's not because he's matured yet. If you're really in someone's head, you're going to see a lot of non-flattering thoughts, so if you judge Dante on his actions more than his thoughts, yeah, he's still not a great guy, but he's redeemable. This seems more realistic than the mysterious hot new guy finding all of a girl's flaws adorable right from the get go. For the record, though, I don't think he's hot and would never want him to be my book boyfriend.
The best aspect of The Collector is Victoria Scott's talent for humor. A lot of lines made me smile or snort. The tone of The Collector stays pretty light and the book doesn't take itself too seriously, which is another way Scott's novel distinguishes itself from the bulk of paranormal romance offerings.There's an element of tongue-in-cheek to Dante, in which he exaggerates his own personality to make fun of himself and lighten a tense moment. He's not always entirely serious when he says outlandish things, just mostly serious.
Though predictable, I also really appreciated the way Dante learned from Charlie's friend group. She has two best friends, Annabelle and Blue. They let Dante into their group pretty readily, after making sure he knows they'll defend Charlie with everything they've got. The moments where the three of them just hang out together are brilliant, and I especially loved the tentative friendship between Blue and Dante, despite their rivalry for Charlie's affections.
What Left Me Wanting More:
Where The Collector lost me somewhat was everything about Dante's relationship with Charlie. Thought I don't hate Dante, I still don't think they make a good couple, and shipped her more with Blue. The fact that their relationship is forced into such a short time frame only exacerbated my disinclination towards their relationship. Instalove is a huge turn off, especially when I already wasn't digging them as a couple. Sure, Dante didn't like her at first, but Charlie claims to have loved him from the start and falling love in less than ten days is still instalove to me anyway. While I did buy some of Dante's emotional arc, I never felt sold on his feelings for Charlie and they definitely came on too strong and too fast. It's also pretty questionable that they came on stronger in proportion to her attractiveness.
The Final Verdict:
If you're a fan of humorous paranormal romance, you will most assuredly want to seek out The Collector. Though The Collector was not a perfect read for me, I am curious enough to pick up the next installment in the Dante Walker series, The Liberator, if I can get my hands on it.
The rumors are true, Dante Walker is "flippin' awesome", he had me at "finger blades" and he reminds me of a Twix cupcake.
Yeah, I said it 'cuz that's how I roll...
Dante is tall, dark and sinfully delicious, just the way I like my chocolate cake. From the outside he looks like any other confectionery perfection, I mean, did you see those red kicks he's rockin'? But one bite reveals quite a few surprises. Dante's got a rich, multi-layered flavor that is to.die.for, yanno, if he wasn't already a goner. *shrugs* His snarkiliciousness can be a tad crunchy at times, much like the graham cracker that tends to float to the top during baking, but his heart is made of melted goodness that closely resembles the homemade caramel filling. I know what you're thinking - the caramel kinda tastes like liquid sin and, yeah it does, but it isn't all bad and neither is Dante but it's cool, we'll play along with his "Bad to the bone" persona, m'kay?
Dante's job as The Collector seems simple enough - for every sin he "helps" a person commit regardless of size, he gets to tag them and then it's a first class ticket on the "Hand basket Express" for that poor soul, no passing Judgment Day and no collecting a pair of white fluffy wings. See, Dante knows there's a battle being waged for our souls and all those "little sins" add up, but in order for the scales to stay balanced, you gotta decide whose Team you're on, Big Guy's or Boss Man's, the latter of which will most likely earn you a front row seat in "The Collector 101" class.
Being the Boss Man's right hand dude does have it's perks but it also has it's challenges - the biggest one Dante will face is about to come in the form of Charlie Cooper. Now, if Dante is a Twix cupcake, then Charlie is a rainbow funfetti cupcake. At first glance, her vanilla exterior may look as if she's made of "lame" but it isn't long before all that beautiful color hiding inside comes bursting out like, *POW* and when it does, poor Dante doesn't stand a chance. He'll begin to question everything he's ever thought to be true about his job, Boss Man and Big Guy, and more importantly, himself.
Dante Walker may not believe in second chances, but before this fast-paced, action packed romance is over, a second chance just might believe in him. (I believe in you too D, just so you know. *smooshes you*)
Final verdict: I love you SO HARD DANTE WALKER!
"But let me tell ya, spend every day living only for yourself, every day indulging in little sins that aren't that big of a deal, and one day I may be showing you the ropes in hell. Amen."
"I came as Awesome Sauce," I say. "You probably wouldn't recognize it."
Dante is filled with ‘tude and thinks he’s all that. He just happens to be soul collector for Lucifer. He’s on top of his game until he meets his latest assignment who’s nothing like he expected. Rather she’s what most high schoolers would consider a ‘loser’. Dante feels this is a no winner. Little does he know what he’s up against!
Love, LOVE the voice of this novel. Dante is one bad boy demon but underneath all that badness hides a vulnerability that Charlie is able to worm into. I admit it. I’m a huge sucker for anti-heroes who are reluctant on their journeys or quests.
Charlie isn’t the stereotypical ‘good’ girl either. Readers glimpse some of her secret hopes and wishes. At first this makes it easy for Dante to slowly give away her soul. Yes, he’s not totally honest but it’s more a case of not volunteering any info.
Charlie’s friends are tight and would do anything for her. And vice a versa. I especially love her BFF Anna who has a Goth girl feel with a heart of gold.
I especially love the revelations about Dante and his own choices he must make. Because this novel is all about that: the choices we have and what we do with them.
Totally in love with Dante! **Fanning self! Can’t wait to see what happens next. Somehow I feel this isn’t the last we hear from Dante.
2. New anti-hero to love
3. Demon with a hidden soft side
Alright, so they have certain limitations, meaning they cannot harm a human and cannot just throw stamps around- they have to see something bad, but it can be something small like being rude to someone or something big like crime. They also apparently must mostly live like humans, traveling in airplanes or cars to get around. So, how do 6 people do enough work/create enough volume to be worth it with these limitations? I am not sure- it's not really well explained. It seems all 6 are in the US also, so I guess other countries' souls are safer/get to go to Judgement Day automatically? I feel like that's a pretty small number (or are there others who are not in the flesh? Something else to explain this?). There also do not appear to be term limits and they cannot die, so it's unclear why Dante is the most experienced/oldest of the Collectors, and he's only been dead for 2 years.
Accepting all that, Dante is up for promotion- if he just collects this one soul first. Should be easy-peasy right? Well, he has to give stamps for bad things, and that can take a while (again, surprising that any souls could be collected with 6 Collectors handing out stamps and many stamps needed to seal a soul to be collected). Twist! A contract does exist- previously unbeknownst to the Collectors- where a person can give up their soul in exchange for something.
The soul Dante is sent to collect is Charlie's. She is unattractive, as Dante frequently reminds us. But, you know, she's a good person. So Dante gets her to sign the contract in exchange for beauty. As she becomes more beautiful, Dante becomes more attracted to her and starts liking her and has a change of heart. I could almost see this being an internal struggle not really attached to Charlie, but more of a what-am-I-doing-with-my-afterlife thing, but it was more tied into Charlie and wanting to save her (I think I would have liked it more if it was an internal thing where this tipped the scales). As-is, I could have bought into this more if I really thought he liked her for her, but they only have a couple scenes with some glimpses of more before she becomes more beautiful. Even then, it seemed so sudden, and she trusts easy. The book really latches onto the bad-guy-turned-good-by-girl.
My biggest concerns were about Dante's selfish and jerky personality, mainly things that I didn't think were needed to get the point across. There's the over-the-top denouncement of Charlie and her friends as ugly with plenty of unflattering descriptors which is tough to read (because who among us looks like an air-brushed model?) but you know, he's going to change. Later, after things are "changing," when he takes Charlie and friends to Vegas and Charlie and her female friend are dancing together, he says "I wonder why the slightest bit of booze turns chicks into lesbos." I am not even sure I can explain how offending this sentiment is, and this is supposedly right around the time of his dramatic change. Girls dancing together does not make them sexually attracted to each other, so you aren't "turning" anyone anything. I am pretty sure, at least in this context, lesbos is derogatory and should not be used (Why did that even need to be there? We already know he's just a mean guy all around).
Anyway, beyond those concerns, the book is a fast read with a good pace, and I was interested in The Collector aspect (which seems, to me, to be a new idea even if I still have some questions). Scott is a great writer, and her books always pull me in with the writing. I would have liked some more fleshing out of the job/afterlife and internal struggle with less of the insulting remarks (I think we could have gotten his shallowness without this). Overall, I am left with some mixed feelings.
Please note that I received a copy from the publisher through netgalley. All opinions are my own.
I am all for the “bad boy”, but Dante was one character that I had a hard time with at the beginning, he was cocky, and could throw an insult without even thinking about or have any remorse, I began to wonder what I had gotten myself into. As I continued to read, I began to see below that sarcastic facade was a sweet guy, it just too a little time to unravel the complexity of his character. Charlie was just a ordinary girl, not the popular type or the girl that all guys want. She nice, and cared for her friends Blue and Annabelle and her family. And she was Dante’s target and his weakness.
I enjoyed the world building, the angels versus demons, and this way of collecting souls was different than most ways than I normally read, with seals and contracts, and I did like that it was different. Soon the course that Dante was one with collecting Charlie’s soul, changed course along the way, but the twists that thrown in made it an interesting change. There was more to Charlie that just “Boss Man” wanting her soul. And along the way we were introduced to Max and Valery, and who they are and what they mean to the story was great, they both have a story that I hope will continue.
Overall, The Collector was fast paced, had witty characters, and an interesting plot, and on the series that I will be continuing. Can’t wait to seen what is going to happen with Dante now that things have changed.
Victoria Scott has created a fresh twist in the world of angels and demons in YA lit *in my humble opinion* and the plot is refreshingly different. I have to say it's one of those books that you just have to let all reality go. It wouldn't happen, but enjoy the ride.
All in all, I really enjoyed the book. For me, the second half is where it got really good. Let Dante have his ego. Enjoy his bad boy self. And love and adore Charlie. Charlie could just be Dante's undoing.
Who Should Read It: If you really like the Sweet Evil series by Wendy Higgins, Hush, Hush, or have a thing for a bad boy main character, I would give it a spin.