Wednesday, December 28, 2011

REVIEW: Sweet Venom

Childs, T.L.  (2011).  Sweet Venom.  New York:  Katherine Tegan Books.

345 pages.

Appetizer:  It's her first day at a new elite school in San Francisco and Grace wants nothing more than to be a better version of herself; someone who stands up to bullies.  With her first encounter with a girl named Miranda, it's clear it's going to take some supernatural power to make her tougher.

Gretchen, in contrast, cares nothing for her classmates and just slips by in school to avoid notice.  Oh, and she spends her nights hunting monsters from Greek mythology who have escaped into the human realm.  As a descendant of Medusa with an important destiny, she has been battling and biting the monsters since she was twelve.  But she can't seem to handle the boy in her biology class who seems to have a crush on her.  Plus, over the past few weeks, things have been a little strange.  More monsters are slipping into the human realm.  On top of that, her mentor, Ursula, is missing.  On top of that other on top of that, when Gretchen sees Grace for the first time, she realizes that she may not be alone.  She may have a sister to go with that destiny.

So, I really enjoyed one Tera Lynn Childs's other books, Oh.My.Gods, and I was very excited when I'd heard she was doing a series based on the descendants of Medusa.  There's so much fun gender issues to work with.  And Childs does a good job of including a Buffy the Vampire Slayer vibe (There's also a Charmed vibe and a Sisters Red feel).  She also does a good job of creating different experiences for her characters (providing a fun argument and discussion on the influence of nurture over nature in terms of personality development).  But, overall, I wasn't that crazy about Sweet Venom.

The way that Childs switched point of view among the protagonists really unnerved me.  I'd be fine if it were consistent, but sometimes she switched between Grace and Gretchen every other chapter, then suddenly Grace would narrate for two chapters in a row.  *Potential spoiler--although the information in the next sentence is mentioned in the book blurb*  Don't even get me started that a third sister's point-of-view that was added over 200-pages into the story.  If this were an epic fantasy, it'd be okay.  But given my vaguely OCD-nature, I needed more consistency in the narration throughout the story.

I also feel like Childs went a little overboard with trying to make Grace unhappy about who she was:  I can't stand up to bullies, I can't do exercise, I can't take classes with the mean girl (who, by the way, had no discernible motive for being so mean), I can't talk to boys, I'm a coward.  Obviously the character was going to change and get over these things throughout the novel.  And it would be fine if Grace was nervous or struggled with some of these issues, but it was a little over the top and Grace wound up seeming whiney and annoying.

On top of these issues, Sweet Venom had very little resolution in the end.  It's pretty much a "To be continued" moment.  So, be prepared for that if you pick up this book.

Dinner Conversation:

"Hydras have a distinctive odor.  It's somewhere between the acid tang of burning hair and a boat full of rotting fish.  You can smell them from miles away.
Well, you can't.  But I can." (p. 1)

"I take a deep breath.  Am I ready?  New home, new city, new school, new friends.  Hopefully.  New life.  New me.
I feel equal parts fear and anticipation.  But one look in Ms. West's sharp eyes and I feel a jolt of confidence.  I feel strong and invincible.  How can I let myself be afraid of change, when it's what I want?  The chance to become the strong, confident young woman I've always dreamed of being.
This is the first step." (p. 14)

"I suck down an entire pudding, trying to pretend I'm not disappointed that he's giving up.  It's not like I want him to pursue me.  I can't want him to pursue me.  My own ego liked the attention, I suppose, the interest in me as nothing more than an average girl.
Don't be dumb, I tell myself.  You're not average.  You don't get the normal life with the BFF and the boy.  You're destined for more than that.  and your destiny is a solo adventure.
Still, I allow myself a brief moment of sadness when I stand to take my empty tray to the dish line and Nick doesn't move.  Doesn't even react.  And like that, poof, I'm forgotten."  (p. 54-55).

"Standing there, in the middle of a dance floor surrounded by dozens of ordinary teens, is a girl who looks exactly like me.  I mean exactly like me.  And, I realize as we blink at each other, she saw the lizard's tail." (pp. 90-91)

"If we're twins, like I have to believe we are, then her heritage is also mine.  Her duty to hunt monsters is also mine.  Is it fair to let her continue to carry that responsibility all on her own?" (p. 109)

Tasty Rating:  !!

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