Sunday, July 7, 2013

4.5 stars: All Our Pretty Songs (All Our Pretty Songs series, #1) by Sarah McCarry

"The first book in an exciting YA trilogy, this is the story of two best friends on the verge of a terrifying divide when they begin to encounter a cast of strange and mythical characters.

Set against the lush, magical backdrop of the Pacific Northwest, two inseparable best friends who have grown up like sisters—the charismatic, mercurial, and beautiful Aurora and the devoted, soulful, watchful narrator—find their bond challenged for the first time ever when a mysterious and gifted musician named Jack comes between them. Suddenly, each girl must decide what matters most: friendship, or love. What both girls don’t know is that the stakes are even higher than either of them could have imagined. They’re not the only ones who have noticed Jack’s gift; his music has awakened an ancient evil—and a world both above and below which may not be mythical at all. The real and the mystical; the romantic and the heartbreaking all begin to swirl together, carrying the two on journey that is both enthralling and terrifying.

And it’s up to the narrator to protect the people she loves—if she can."

Expected publication: July 30th 2013 by St. Martin's Griffin. I won an ARC from the publisher on Goodreads. 

A big chunk of my rating for this book is because it's so unique and beautifully written. It's a modern day fairy tale, but the protagonist (we don't know her name) is one of the only real-life characters. She can move between two worlds, but the action mainly happens to those around her. The way she thinks and her actions are that of someone in our world. It's a little hard to explain, but to sum it up: imagine yourself suddenly slipping into a fairy tale and seeing all sorts of strange characters and wondrous things. A little like Alice in Wonderland. I really would not be surprised if the second half of the book turned out to be a bad acid trip. You have to know what you are getting into, because the book starts off in our world and everything seems normal, but then things slowly creep into paranormal territory during a party. The transition might not work for some, because it's hard to tell how literal it is, and the narrator's reaction to it isn't quite what you would expect from a real-life character; it both seems like she's not too surprised/confused and that she knows exactly what is going on.

This lyrical story doesn't give a year when it takes place, but my best guess would be around 1994. While this is a YA book, there were references that I'm not sure someone in the young adult age group would get. Also, it felt like Aurora's (that's the narrator's best friend) dad was based off of Kurt Cobain and her mom is the strung out Courtney Love. That makes it a bit more relatable and sets the atmosphere.

My take on the story is that death is personified and there's a message about how Hollywood and stardom steal the souls of those they capture. They kill that inner light that people once had inside, and they make people the property of others. It kind of reminded me of Mulholland Drive. Since this is only book 1, it's hard to know exactly what is going on, but that's my impression from this first installment. 

I will definitely read the next book in the series.

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