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Sunday, September 27, 2015

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ARC Review: Becoming Darkness by Lindsay Francis Brambles (A Kill-Happy Book)

Becoming Darkness

Becoming Darkness
Author:
Lindsay Francis Brambles
Publication Date: October 1, 2015
Publisher: Switch Press
Reviewer: Sophia

Like everyone else living in Haven, seventeen-year-old Sophie Harkness is an Immune--a carrier of the genetic mutation that protects her from the virus Hitler unleashed upon the world more than half a century ago. A virus that wiped out most of humanity and turned two-hundred million people into vamps. But after her best friend is brutally murdered and several attempts are made on her own life, Sophie becomes determined to find answers to what seems to be a conspiracy running generations deep. And when she questions the peace treaty that keeps her small community protected, Sophie begins to discover terrible truths about herself and what it means to be human in a world ruled by darkness.

Lindsay Brambles' debut young adult novel is a story of an alternate universe: Hitler won the war, our modern technologies never evolved, and the Nazis' terrifying reign still continues. This fast-paced novel will appeal to readers who guzzle up genre mashups and are looking for a fresh hybrid to sweep them away.
Advanced copy provided by Switch Press via Netgalley for review – thanks!

Never have I ever read a book in which Hitler won World War II and succeeded in taking over the world.

Until now. I admit I'm a little fond of this one because of the whole alternative history thing going on right there, but I'm a little disturbed here, Lindsay Francis Brambles. You're as bad as Agatha Christie and came very close to killing everyone. Although technically, you did kill most of the characters that I grew fond of. Not cool. I don't think I can ever forgive you for this transgression of Trigger Happy Book. (More like Explosion Happy Book.)

But in the very long run, I only liked Becoming Darkness for a few things.

Sadistic as it may be, I did like how Brambles made Hitler won the second world war and unleashed a virus that made a lot of people turn into vampires – all of that is told within the first few pages. Although the origins of Gemorrah (le virus) is revealed throughout the story and integrated in the plot, I still don't understand how the creators came up with that name in the first place. Does it mean something in German, or is it something they thought sounded sinister and cool and decided to go with it? In my humble opinion, it does not sound cool or sinister. It sounds like a Mary Poppins word.

I also really liked how Brambles didn't go completely off course from history – there are some references to the war, there might be another significant historical figure who makes a cameo appearance (under a different name, but don't quote me), etc. Basically, there's not much that's thrown in completely off kilter aside from maybe the virus – I still feel fishy about that.

Sophie Harkness does not take BS when there are boys hitting on her in the stupidest, cheesiest ways. Namely: "We're meant for one another because you're a girl, I'm a guy, and we have the parts to create phenomenal offspring." Sorry for the disturbing image, but that was very much implied by the character. Unfortunately for her, she sort of believes in love at first sight when she first met Val back when she was fourteen.

Sophie is also not a judgmental character – she's very open-minded and believes vampires aren't exactly sinister blood sucking creatures. Every other Immune, those who can't get Gemorrah, are so judgmental and narrow-minded, it just peeves me greatly. It IS understandable, though, considering the year Brambles sets the book in.

Unfortunately, I didn't really like the whole flashbacks. For awhile in the beginning, it's a little confusing and I had to backtrack to make sure it was a flashback and not actually set in the present day. There's a "sort-of" warning and then we're in flashback mode that feels like it's set in the present but is really Sophie telling a story. On the bright side, all those flashbacks (and the journal entries written by Sophie's mom) all play a relevant role in the overall plot.

I also didn't really like Valentine. Though I eventually warmed up to him over the course of the book, something about him was really disturbing. He's not an annoying "stalker type" of character, but it IS a little weird he still tried to keep his connections to Sophie's family from grandma to mom to Sophie in the hopes of falling in love again. But considering the fact he's doesn't throw out stupidly cheesy lines at Sophie, I like him a little.

Have I mentioned I'm sick and tired of seeing the name Valentine over and over again in literature? We just can't get any more original than St. Valentine, can we?

I would totally summarize Becoming Darkness in a few words, if only I didn't end up giving major spoilers. But in a nutshell, the book quite literally tells me all of us should be downright grateful the Third Reich didn't succeed. It also told me I'm royally screwed if the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, but I think I've established that in sixth grade with the whole Ramen Noodle Stove catastrophe.

3.5 Owls


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Sophia

Sophia is the owner and founder of Bookwyrming Thoughts, but also found on various parts of the internet. She's a 19-year-old communications major who has weird humor and doesn't fit the Asian stereotype (maybe a little). Books, chocolate, technology, and music are among some of her favorite things. For more of her work, visit her personal website.