Monday, November 21, 2011

Review: Anna Dressed In Blood (Anna #1) by Kendare Blake

First off, I feel I should discuss the cover art: I know, I know--everyone loves this cover. Unfortunately it doesn't do anything for me. Look, I stopped being fooled wowed by cover art after reading Fallen by Lauren Kate. That's a lie--the cover for the third Paranormalcy book makes me ridiculously happy, but at least I'm fairly certain I'll like that book since I like the first two books in the series.

In my opinion the following would have made a better cover for Anna Dressed In Blood:

Carrie,Prom Queen,Anna Dressed in Blood,They're All Gonna Laugh

Infinitely better, don't you think?

Moving on...

You know how Cake Pops are the newest, coolest thing in baked goods? And everyone's all "O mai, it'ss teh caaaaaaaake popssssssss!"? And you're standing there thinking, sure they're cute but they're just little glorified cupcakes on sticks? Well, let me start by saying: Anna Dressed in Blood is the Cake Pop of the publishing industry. Sure it's cute(-ish) but I fail to see what the big deal is.

Ghostly Cake Pops

Seriously, what's the big deal?

I've read several reviews that claim this book is hilarious and disgusting and terrifying. Plus! Awesome Characters! Weird Romance! I was under the impression Anna Dressed in Blood was the YA version of Fargo, except with a Very Murdery Ghost instead of a woodchipper. And I was all, sign me up!

My mistake was falling for the hype & actually believing the rumors.

It's not laugh-out-loud funny

"Hey" he says, pulling up a chair. "Aren't you going to eat your Jell-o?"
"I effing hate green Jell-o," I reply, and push it his way.
"I hate it too. I was just asking."
I laugh. "Don't make me hurt my ribs, you dick."

Bahahahahaha. So funny, right?

Kidding! I'm not sure which parts were supposed to be funny, actually. Even during the 30% of this book I did enjoy I never laughed, not even in my head. I'd have settled for a "that's what she said" joke. I'm not too picky when it comes to humor.

It's not terrifying. (Not even a little.)

I keep reading reviews that claim this book is scary. It isn't. Yeah, there's a ghost (a couple, actually). Yeah, Anna likes to make it look like her dress is dripping with blood. Yeah, she murders people. But it just so happens that none of that scared me. If there was a demonic clown in this book then I might have been a little frightened. But, alas, no demonic clowns.

It's not a paranormal romance

As far as I'm concerned it's not PNR unless the romance is a major part of the story. Believe me when I say this: the romance is hardly even present. What little romance there is between Cas and Anna is forced and awkward. I only knew they were in love because I was told as much. There was no flirting. No longing glances. No blushing and looking away. No showing off. Now I can't even remember if there is any kissing. I think there might be a kissing scene, but the romance is so minor I just don't remember. The only things Cas and Anna had in common is both their fathers are dead and (view spoiler). Other than that, I can't think of anything else they might have in common. I would have loved to hear that they both liked the same subjects in school, read the same books, or even that they shared a deep passion for pie, but that never happened. Their conversations consisted of Cas questioning Anna about who killed her, the people she killed and how she feels about it, ghost killing, nightmares, and how to stop the gruesome murders happening in Thunder Bay.

I don't know, maybe that's what passes for romance in Canada these days.

The other romance is more interesting, in that it's an unconventional human pairing. I loves me an unconventional love story. That said, it's still another romance that's only present because we're told as much. Sure, Thomas the Nerd is crushing hard-core on Carmel, the hottest girl in school, but I fail to see why she might return his feelings. He's described as looking like a 12-year-old with unkempt orangey-red hair. He dresses ugly, he's awkward and he has a bit of a chip on his shoulder (which, by the way, conveniently disappears early on in the story). Yes, Thomas is nice to Carmel and worships the ground she walks on, but that's pretty much how everyone treats her. She's the hot girl, remember? So...what's in it for Carmel? I want to know that she finds him attractive on an intellectual level, or that it's his sense of humor and confidence that she finds irresistibly sexy (by the way, he's not funny but he needs to be because he is the plucky side-kick), or that she loves him because he really wants to be with her for her personality and not just her looks.

It's not disgusting

I'm not going to lie to you. All the gory details are vague at best. So if you're not into that sort of thing, don't worry, you're pretty safe. That said, I feel I should warn you: yes, there is some dismemberment, and, yes, it is a little abrupt when it happens the first time, but other than that... *shrug* I've actually seen worse (on tv).

The Walking Dead gif
That. Just. Happened. Now please excuse me as I dry-heave for the next 30 seconds.

Which brings me to my next point:

I need the characters to show some genuine emotion

Look, I know I just said that I've seen worse and that's why the gory descriptions didn't affect me. It's just that, had I seen someone dismembered IN REAL LIFE, I'd: 1) vomit 2) vomit some more 3) run away screaming 4) cry 5) dry-heave just thinking about it 6) have nightmares for the rest of my life 7) work it out in therapy.

And that's what I'd do if I never even knew the person.

These kids? Have never seen any real (read: not hallucinations) dismembered bodies, ever. So when they see it happen to people they actually know, I want them to do at least one of the following: 1) run away screaming 2) go into hysterics while standing there 3) go into shock 4) huddle in a corner 5) vomit 6) dry-heave 7) cry about it for more then a paragraph 8) have nightmares 9) call the cops 10) feel survivor guilt.

None of that happened, which is why these teens seem so robotic.

Also? I have a problem with the amount of time these kids spent on getting their stories straight. They spent more time working on alibis then they did thinking about the kids that died horrible, painful deaths. It's seriously disturbing how little they spent thinking about the dead kids or the dead kids' families. And don't tell me it doesn't really matter how they felt about the dead kids because they were bullies who deserved to die.

It's called empathy. Look it up.

(2 stars)

(I have so much more to say but I don't know if I'll be able to finish this review before next week. I'm posting it now as a sort of early Thanksgiving present for everyone. You're welcome.

Happy Thanksgiving!)