Saturday, August 11, 2012

REVIEW: The Blessed by Tonya Hurley

Title: The Blessed by Tonya Hurley
Pages: 432
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books (Imprint of Hachette)
Publication Date: 2nd August, 2012
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher (for review)

Brooklyn teens Lucy, Cecelia and Agnes find themselves in the emergency room at Perpetual Help Hospital at the lowest point in their lives. Lucy, the superficial party girl; Cecelia, a drop out rock chick; and Agnes, a hopeless romantic. All rebels running from their lives and themselves, plagued by broken hearts and broken dreams. Enter Sebastian. Mysterious, compelling, seductive. He seems to bring each of them what they long for...

But in the battle for his heart, will they lose their souls?

 --Goodreads summary

I really like Tonya Hurley's Ghostgirl books and when I heard about The Blessed, which sounded exactly like my kinda book, I had to get a copy! So thank you to Hachette for sending me this.

Unfortunately, after I started reading The Blessed, I realised it was not the book I had been so highly anticipating. When we first meet them, main characters Lucy, Cecilia, and Agnes are all 'troubled,' but in very different ways. They are each binded together by a strange bracelet, linking them to the mysterious Sebastian, an even more 'troubled' boy we learn, who is hiding much more than he is letting on. Lucy and Cecilia have pretty strong personalities that seem quite in-your-face, while Agnes is more reserved, but to be honest, the trio are all as well, messed-up as each other. I found it difficult to sympathise with them for most of the novel, I'm not sure why, there was just something about them that made you want to stay away, y'know? But I did end up softening later on, because of all the destruction going on in their lives, especially to Agnes. There's this one part where she goes back to school after her attempted suicide, and rather than the pity looks and "there's the girl who tried to kill herself" whispers, they were making fun of her. Like, do people ACTUALLY do that?!! That's beyond cruel and nasty.

About 100-ish pages from the end, I thought that it kind of...fell to pieces a bit. There seemed to be like, this overload of information to make up for the lack of action in the rest of the book, where I couldn't really understand what was going on at all. 

However, Hurley's portrayal of saints was interesting, and it's something that I think is new to the YA genre. Points for darkness and strangeness, too. I liked that Hurley didn't hold back in those areas, but the story got extremely detailed at points, especially towards the end. It was confusing though, because if these girls are supposed to be saints, why all the violence? I think it was Cecilia who said that they weren't angels, but still. It's not even's like, a whole level-up from that.

Also, the artwork was really cool. I'm studying illustrated YA novels as well as love stories for my Extended Project, and I thought it was a very nice touch in The Blessed. It really added to the dark vibe going on.

The Blessed is very gritty, with an fascinating plot, but I think it lacked that hook to keep readers wanting to know what happens next, as well as generally feeling vague. About nearly everything. I don't think this is one for the faint-hearted and it's definitely not the love-gone-wrong mystery I expected it to be.

"Tears of blood trickle from my eyes and pool upon the ground, a lake of purple and crimson my only mirror now. I am emptied of all but my ghost."


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