Reading Level: Young Adult
Size: 560 pages
Release Date: February 11, 2014
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in the Dark Passages series
Source: eGalley from Edelweiss.com
Rating: 3/5 stars
I got a copy of this book to review through Edelweiss. Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for providing this book to review. This was a really strange book. I went back and forth between loving the strangeness and hating it. This is definitely more of a horror than a fantasy. Previously I had read the first two books in Bick’s Ashes series, I loved the first one and hated the second one. I guess for some reason I have kind of a love/hate relationship with Bick’s writing.
This book is told from a number of POVs. The main story involves Lizzie who is a young girl whose dad is a writer that can enter an alternate world where horrors dwell called the Dark Passages. He drags the horrors from Dark Passages out into his book to create bestselling horror novels. When Lizzie’s dad loses control a number of other characters are drawn into the story through circumstance. However, things are not as they first seem.
The other main character that features in this book is Emma. She is a teenager with a metal plate in her head, she was abused and had her skull crushed as a child. She looses time a lot and then she will regain herself and not know where she was or what she did for vast portions of time.
Additional characters in the book are Eric. Eric is an ex-marine with a younger brother named Casey. Eric and Casey are fleeing on a snowmobile because Eric accidentally killed his dad defending Casey from him. He runs into Emma on the road.
There is also Rima who has fled a druggie mom and hitched a ride with a guy named Tony. She is trying to flee to Canada and can see ghosts as well as hear thoughts from objects. Lastly there are Bode and Battle, they are both Vietnam vets who think it is the 1960’s.
Yep, that’s a lot of people and a lot of bouncing around between POVs. The story is incredibly fractured. The concept is interesting however and at the beginning of the book there is this looming dread that really pulls the reader through the book…you just have to know what strange and horrible thing will happen next.
Lots of strange and horrible things do happen in this book. A lot of them are very disturbing and gross…so this is not for the faint of heart. You have been warned.
I actually thought the first half of the book was interesting and pretty good. It is in the second half of the book where things start to fall apart. You find out that there are alternate realities and even time travel involved in the story. Lizzie spends pages and pages trying to explain the metaphysics of it all to the other characters. The other characters spends pages and pages trying to explain to each other what they think is happening. This is not done well at all…it is boring and confusing. The reader ends up being just as confused as the characters in the book. I almost stopped reading this book. Bick was just trying too hard to make this too complicated, and she doesn’t do a good job of explaining it well to the reader.
I like weird books, but I also like them to be enjoyable to read and this really wasn’t. It is definitely disturbing and it seems like it could be an interesting concept, but it just is too ambiguous and not explained all that well. Mostly it just ends up being really long and hard to read.
Overall this starts out as an interesting concept and book and is engaging. Halfway through though things fall apart, it gets lengthy, boring, and confusing. I really struggled to finish this one. I would give the first half of the book 4 stars and the second half of the book 2 stars. I wouldn’t really recommend this unless you are a huge fan of the bizarre, then give it a try and see if you can get through it. I won’t be reading any more of this series.
This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
– Ebook Reading Challenge
– Chunkster Reading Challenge (450+ pages)
– You Read How Many Books? Reading Challenge
– 100 Books in a Year Reading Challenge