Hemlock by Rue Volley is a really unique, fun read for Young Adults. I was lucky to read an ARC of the novel from NetGalley. I really enjoyed the story line as presented. There were some things I really loved about this book and some things that irked me. The story is about Rook Dagger, a 15 year old burgeoning necromancer (born to human parents), who goes to a magical boarding school to learn how to control her powers and quickly gets in over head.
Interesting/Unique concept – I like the concept (beyond the normal forbidden teen love) with various groupings of supernatural all going to boarding school together with eventual placement into the worlds of magic.
Fun characters – The characters that are fleshed out are believable. There’s a lot of syntax and behavior that is completely teenage and even adult behavior that wouldn’t be out of place in a normal life.
Introspective Teen perspective – While Dagger goes through a lot of teen angst, she at least is observant and thinks about the why’s of people and their actions. I appreciate this because frequently I feel teens are written and just confused and keep doing stupid things without thinking because hormones. I think this also plays to this character’s upbringing, being secluded with her mother, so she is probably a little more introspective than others her age.
Playlist – I have seen this concept in a few books lately. I like the idea that you can put music on or at least familiarize yourself with the themes/feelings of a novel by reading or playing the songs that vibe with the story.
Story pace is choppy – Story beings with a vaguely dreamlike slow beginning, then it jumps all over and speeds out of control. As a result, I’m left with a lot of questions about how we as the reader are getting to the end of the book (which of course is a kinda cliffhanger).
Gaps in story – This goes hand in hand with the choppy pace. There’s all this detail at the beginning placed into what are non-pivotal scenes, then the story speeds up and there’s no information for why these gaps are happening. Flow of the story feels off. There are also things clearly referenced in the book that we aren’t told about yet, so it makes you feel like you’ve missed something, but it is just because the author is blatantly foreshadowing about something that will become important past book 1.
Tunnel Vision – The author created a world I’d like to know about, then zeroes in on the love story and the whole thing gets a little predictable from there on. I just felt like while the writing was great, there’s just so much backdrop, backgrounds, details set up that get literally forgotten. Felt unbalanced.
Beginning of series – This is clearly book 1 of a series, so the author leaves you with an unfinished story.
Included other works – 20% of the pages in this book have nothing to do with the story. There’s introductory chapters of 2 additional books, which seems weird. I wouldn’t want to pay for an intro chapter, I’d prefer more of the original story.