Source: ARC from Little, Brown and Company
Grade: 2.5 stars out of 5
Dark Song is broken into two parts: the before and the after. Before her father lost his job because he was caught stealing from his clients’ money and short selling, Ames’s life was perfect. Her family was perfect, her grades were great, her life was going exactly as she hoped. After she was forced to give up herself she grew up to pay for expenses and moved to Texas, Ames meets Marc. Marc is the bad boy you do not want your parents to meet; he owns a gun collection, has a baby face (twenty-two years old), and is prone to violence.The first part is the steps to the diving board. Slow, methodical, tedious you can say. Step, after step, after step with no real change. Several pages before the break and the beginning of part 2 is the last of the steps and onto the diving board itself—a change of pace from Boulder to Texas. Part 2 is the rush and the exhilaration of drama escalating and the stakes raised higher and higher until you are at the point of diving. The climax and ending passes by in seconds, you are diving from the board and into the water. You receive a measly 2.5 out of 5. Why?
I honestly do know about this novel. I find that there is no real progression from the start to the end in terms of characters and plot development. Frankly I have trouble figuring out the plot was going. My intuition says that the plot is about Ames falling off the line with Marc and trying to align herself once more. And it was. Yet it was not.
Marc appears in the second half of the novel and things move fast. One minute they are introducing each other, the next they’re already having sex, and finally just when there is less than a centimeter’s worth of pages left, the situation is resolved. After half a novel’s worth of being rebellious, shoplifting, and selling possessions I expect the second half to make up for the lackluster read. It didn’t meet those expectations.
For one thing Ames and her mother. They are Thing 1 and Thing 2, two peas in a pod. Their personalities include stubbornness, selfishness, and a smidgen of delusional. They are neither likable nor relatable, which doesn’t bother much, but they are unchanging, which bothers me. Sorry I have to take that back, they do change. I just find it hard to believe. One minute it is claws extended and the next it’s a soft-spoken I-understand-you tone, which came from nowhere. The change is immediate and before you know it, the novel ends.
The epilogue reads as though Giles wrote it first then backtracked to fill in the blanks. He had great tension and build-up with wonderful lines:
“'You.” His voice flat. Emotionless. “Who are you?”A part of me is frustrated that I did not see that throughout the novel.
Had had asked the right question.
I didn’t have an answer.
Who was I?
Who had I been?
Who would I be?
I don’t know.
I do know this.
I am not innocent." (page 292 of the ARC)
Here is some good news: I do love some of the secondary characters. I found Em, the best friend, a strong support system to Ames and an overall good friend to her. I find Chrissy, Ames's 6-year sister, to be the one voice that doesn't need to be accessed and dissected because it always speaks the truth. I find the grandmother Robin to be such a forgiving mother, a lovable grandmother, and added that sweetness that Dark Song needed.
P.S. There is a scene where Ames and her friend try to steal an iPod because her mother took her iPhone. They think it’s no big deal to shoplift an iPod. My mind boggles at that: FLABBERGASTED.
I do so long this cover. I think there is symbolism of the thorned rose of its own rebellion. Or I can just be looking too deeply into it.