Sunday, January 12, 2014
Review: Her Dark Curiosity by Megan Shepherd
Review: Her Dark Curiosity by Megan Shepherd
Release date: January 28th, 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (harperCollins)
Series: #2 in The Madman's Daughter trilog
Rating: A nice beginning, an ENORMOUSLY frustrating middle, and a decent ending. But worst of all, a Love Triangle of DOOM.
This review contains spoilers for book one, The Madman's Daughter. To read my review, go here.
I wrote a post on Friday about one of the greatest bookish tragedies out there: Second Book Syndrome. Sadly, this is the book that inspired that post, as I thought it was an enormous letdown compared to its predecessor, which I actually thoroughly enjoyed. The plot was overshadowed by a hideous love triangle, the character's motivations became difficult to track, and... OH YEAH. THE LOVE TRIANGLE. Lots and lots of good in here that was totally negated by the Return of the Boyfriends.
Really, I'm not opposed to love triangles. I wrote a whole post about how they can be used for good. It's like that saying that guns don't kill people, people kill people. (A saying I don't like, but you know.) It's all about how the love triangle is wielded. Well, pack the car and run for the hills, this love triangle is coming for you and your home and your soul.
The Madman's Daughter ended with Juliet, daughter of the infamous Dr. Moreau, drifting alone into the sea, her father dead by her own hand, his island full of monsters burning. Now that was an ending, right? I seriously did NOT know where Shepherd was going to go with the sequel, and it excited me muchly to learn it would be based on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which gave me lots of ideas for what the plot could be, Juliet-wise.
I wish this book had focused on Juliet's dual nature. On the darkness inside her, on... oh, I don't know, Her Dark Curiosity, perhaps? But no, instead it was Her Romantic Curiosity. The book had the chance to really GO THERE with a certain twist. Make Juliet truly torn and tortured and grappling with her dark side, with her animal side, with her mad Moreau side. Instead it went elsewhere with the "big reveal". Instead, Juliet's dark curiosity amounted to her basically being interested in science. It amounted to her still having the hots for boys who should be dead why aren't they dead be dead.
Admittedly, Shepherd cleaved to the promise in the title by the end, when Juliet starts to get a little twisted, but by then she'd already lost me. The action and intensity at the end should have wowed me, but everything that had preceded it ruined it for me.
We find Juliet, at the beginning of Her Dark Curiosity, in London and living safely as the ward of an old family friend. Strange and brutal murders have been occurring all over London. A rare flower has been discovered on every body, and the police and papers are calling it the hallmark of the Wolf of Whitechapel, newest serial killer on the block. It's good stuff, right? Even though Juliet spends a good chunk of time moaning about if ooooonly Montgomery were heeeeere. Yes, that same Montgomery who tricked you into climbing aboard a raft and shoved you out to sea. IF ONLY HE WERE HERE.
I was so with the book at this point. The writing was excellent, the setting atmospheric, and the plot intriguing. And then the plot jumps the shark. It jumps freaking Jaws, is what it does. And this may be a SPOILER, but it happens so early on in the book that I feel comfortable discussing it (and really, you can see it coming). One of her boyfriends--the one that died on the island? The one that's a beast person who literally killed people on that island? Surprise! Not dead! Huzzah! Isn't that manifique?
No. It is not magnifique. The love triangle has resumed with a VENGEANCE. When characters die, they need to stay dead, okay? JUST BE DEAD.
And then there's so much romantic angst. Like, no. Edward is a murderous beast who hulks out and kills people. I cannot even, Juliet. Everything you do in this entire book, Juliet, is just confusing to me. I should have written this review in the form of an intervention. Like, this one thing she does? I cannot EVEN. It's kind of a spoiler but it's also the biggest WTF moment I have ever experience, so I will white it out here. BUT I NEED TO RANT.
I don't know about you, but when a guy comes home all freshly bloody and covered in MURDER, I'm not going to jump his bones. I don't know. MAYBE THAT'S JUST ME. I MEAN, HE JUST MURDERED A PERSON. OH MY GOD JULIET. OH MY GOD. HE IS COVERED IN BLOOD AND NOW YOU ARE TOO AND HIS SHOES HAVE HOLES FOR HIS BEAST CLAWS AND GIRRRRRL LOOK AT YOUR LIFE LOOK AT YOUR CHOICES
This is basically the romantical plot:
Edward: Heal me, Juliet! The Beast isn't me!
Juliet: You're a monster! No wait, I will heal you after all, because I might love you, because apparently the first book never happened.
Edward: So you love me?!
Juliet: Shit, I forgot about Monty. Nope. I love him.
Edward: Forget about Monty. He has seeeeecrets.
Juliet: No! Not my Monty! TELL ME.
Edward: I cannot for REASONS.
Monty: Sup. Hi. Love me.
Juliet: NO I'M MAD I... You're still quite hot. Mmmmm.
Edward: My love! Please don't-- *hulks out*
Shoot him, Juliet. Just shoot him** and all of your problems will be solved.
**Shoot either one, really. I'm not terribly picky.
And then we get the friend, Lucy, who I should really like but... Is it the law that all YA best friends need to be prettier, more confident, and more fashionable than the shy and retiring MC? Honestly? Lucy is a bit of a non-entity, sadly. In fact, I was hoping for more personality from everybody.
The twists are predictable, the plot is boring, the love triangle makes you want to bang your head into the wall, and don't get me started on the love interests themselves. One of them is a personality-less abandoner, and the other is literally a murderer. Okay then. Juliet Moreau? More like... Juliet MORE BEAUS. Ba dum tshhh!
And then there are just the logic fails. How on earth did the police not figure out that the killer was getting a rare flower at the Royal Botanical Gardens? Isn't that the first place you'd think of and check? Juliet's plan at the end is just the WORST. It's horrible and brutal and really wonderfully written, but Christ on a breadstick, girl. And I can't track the changes in character motivation and personality.
The writing remains top-notch. As in, the actual construction of the prose. In that regard, Shepherd is enormously talented, and that will be enough to rescue this plot for a lot of people. But the wildly inconsistent and foolish characters killed any possibility of enjoyment for me. I could not get past the angst and the stupidity. Such a sad example of Second Book Syndrome.