Monday, April 30, 2012

Dark Eyes by William Richter

[description from goodreads]

Get ready for the vigilante girl detective of the next generation.

Wally was adopted from a Russian orphanage as a child and grew up in a wealthy New York City family. At fifteen, her obsessive need to rebel led her to life on the streets.

Now the sixteen-year-old is beautiful and hardened, and she's just stumbled across the possibility of discovering who she really is. She’ll stop at nothing to find her birth mother before Klesko—her darkeyed father—finds her. Because Klesko will stop at nothing to reclaim the fortune Wally’s mother stole from him long ago. Even if that means murdering his own blood. But Wally's had her own killer training, and she's hungry for justice.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for teens, this debut thriller introduces our next big series heroine!


I don't often get a chance to read "action books," so I looked forward to Dark Eyes, especially because it also promised to feature the Russian mob. The mafia was woefully absent, for the most part, but Dark Eyes is still a delightfully exciting read. 

It's easy to see from the description that this book focuses primarily on the action instead of the characters, which is good for the plot, but no so much for the people. Positives first, though: the action really is exciting. It actually takes a bit of time for Wally to begin searching for her birth mother, but in the meantime, she and her gang are wrapped up in so much shady business that it's still a compelling read. The combination of their street lives and their eventual quest for answers makes it even more adventerous; they always have to balance day-to-day life as well as the conspiracy-like danger, especially when their quest leads them closer to sketchy people like Wally's Russian criminal dad. The ending of the book is the best, though-- new twists pop up every chapter or so, making the slower beginning bits definitely worth it.

The focus on the action definitely hurts the characters, though. The perspective sometimes changes to the detective looking for the murderer of one of Wally's friends or to Wally's dad, but these shifts are so few that they make everything disjointed despite the added action they provide. They also don't help make the characters any more three-dimensional, since most of the chapters focus on a fight or new piece of evidence rather than what the characters feel or think about any one thing. Even the chapters that focus on Wally are relatively absent from a personal connection; there are glimpses of personality when she and her friends interact because of the strong bond their tough times on the street create, but sometimes their connection went too intense in too short a time for it to make much sense. For example, Wally and Tevin, one of the crew members, are love interests, but their romantic encounters happen, like, three times so I didn't see the point of including a romance when there were far more dangerous things going on.

The characters are tragically flat, but if you're looking for an exciting action-packed read, Dark Eyes is a good fit.

Book details: Razorbill/Hardcover/$17.99

Source: sent by publisher for review

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