Verdict: Would work better as a film.
DESOLATION was mostly an enjoyable read, and overall I’ve give it 3.5 stars. I enjoy Landy’s quirky style and attention to pace. It wasn’t as good as DEMON ROAD, but I found myself drawn in by the mystery and promise of demon deals and life-or-hell situations.
Where book one was a series of episodes leading up to a finale, book two is more like a movie. Actually, most of it would work better as a movie, but I’ll get to that later.
I don’t think Amber grew as a character – in fact, most of the book wasn’t about her. Lots of other characters were introduced, and we followed them for sections instead. I didn’t mind the two old TV actors, but the Scooby gang parody felt like too much, too fast, too thin.
Sadly, Milo and Glen were my favourite characters of book one. With one down to start with, the story felt like it was missing most of book one’s appeal. The other had reduced page time to make way for a whole host of other characters. I hope this changes in book three.
Now for a mini spoiler (feel free to skip paragraph, although I’ll keep it vague). I applaud the modern romance, but it was rubbish. It came out of nowhere, lacked connection, and I can’t see it being particularly relatable to teens. Amber doesn’t grow as a person or ask, and then deal with, the questions and excitement that should have followed. I’m not sure it really counts as romance. It felt more like two casual adults who know themselves well, rather than a sixteen-year-old experimenting or realising who they are. It almost feels like it was thrown in just to be diverse.
Mini spoiler over, and onto the style. Where the humour worked, the writing was witty, entertaining, and full of character. By the second half of the book, it felt aimless and manufactured rather than organic. Landy goes out of his way be funny, and I found myself asking ‘but what’s your point?’. One scene contained four side characters squabbling for several pages. It stood out as a peculiar detour away from the actual story.
Similarly, I loved the action where it worked, but other times it dragged (no pun intended). The middle section launched into a sequence that left me unable to work out who was where and what was going on. Action and circumstance drove most of the scenes, not intelligence or characters or plot. It was surprisingly dull and overly complicated.
What made this book interesting was the mystery behind it, not the action or skits. The village is a strange, strange place with villagers who act even weirder. I didn’t know who to trust, and I wanted to work out what was going on. I also liked the tie ins from book one, which pumped some of the series’ charm back into the storyline.
Here’s the thing – this book would probably work better as a film or TV series because it felt visually orientated - action and quips. But books are more than what you can see, don’t you think?
Source: NetGalley.com, via the awesome publishers.