Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Bleeding Violet

Hanna Jarvinen is crazy. According to doctors, she is bipolar, but she prefers the term manic depressive. She hallucinates pretty regularly and talks to her dead father daily. She also dresses all in purple in his memory. She decides to go to Portero, Texas to find the mother she has never met. Her mother is less than enthusiastic to see her long lost daughter and states that if Hanna can't fit in, she has to go back to live with her aunt. (Never mind that Hanna knocked her aunt unconscious and wouldn't be welcome even if she came back.) Portero is a lot more weird than Hanna ever suspected. On the first day, she just figures she's hallucinating, but it seems that other people see the visions as well. It turns out that the town is the site of interdimensional travel and large, scary monsters traipsing through all the time. Will she survive this crazy town and be accepted by the community to get through to her mother?

I have never seen a young adult book quite like this one. I think the closest to it would be Going Bovine by Libba Bray. I heard about this book from other blogger's reviews and just checked it out at the library on a whim (and because I love the cover). I had no idea what I was getting into. The bizarre town is used to random monster attacks. Everyone wears dark colors as to not attract attention from dangerous creatures. Needless to say, purple clad Hanna was a surprise, but not expected to last long. She was as surprising to me as she was to the townspeople. She is so strange, but full of life. She takes all the weirdness in stride and rises above people's doubts and criticisms. Her thought processes are fascinating and make her one of the most interesting protagonists I have ever read. Hanna is my favorite character in the novel. Her character development goes beyond her mental disorder. Her different layers are revealed as the novel goes on and I couldn't help but be emotionally invested in her and her journey.

The narrative features many scenes that would be considered by many to be not appropriate in a book geared towards teens. I loved every single page of this book. The writing really sucked me into the story and held my interest throughout. Personally, I had no problem with the violence, drug use, or scenes of sexuality. All of the reviews I have read that are negative condemn Dia Reeves for not providing a good role model or a good message. I completely disagree. I think those people are more interested in censoring anything that they don't agree with than looking for an interesting story that might speak to them. They seem to focus on individual scenes and not the overarching themes and messages. Hanna is an independent and assertive girl who solved her problems through her own wit, negotiation, and intelligence. There are some very disturbing scenes in the novel, but they aren't gratuitous or put there just for shock value. On the other hand, there are also some very touching, emotional scenes.

Bleeding Violet has easily made it into the ranks of my favorite books. I would recommend this to people who aren't squeamish and are looking for a wild ride.

My rating: 5/5 fishmuffins

1 comment:

Sullivan McPig said...

Thanks for the review. Hmmm, might check this out.