Friday, September 17, 2010

Low Red Moon

Devlin, Ivy. Low Red Moon. New York: Bloomsbury, 2010. Print.
[Book cover credit:]

Avery's childhood was a bit isolated, but never lonely. She lived in the woods with her mother and father. Her father wrote for the local paper, her mother made jams and taught Avery at home. Then someone, no something, took it all away and left Avery lying in her parents' blood with no memory of what happened to them. Now she's living with Renee, her estranged grandmother, in town and going to school to try to distract herself from all she's lost. That's where she meets Ben, beautiful Ben who moved to town just before her parents died and is the only person who is as comfortable in the woods as Avery is. Just when Avery thinks she might be able to move on, weird things start to happen: her father's friend tries to buy his land, Avery's hair turns blood red, and another land-owning family in the woods turns up dead. Avery knows she has to find out who killed her parents before anyone else dies, and she's terrified that Ben has something to do with it.

Low Red Moon is paranormal romance at its best, but it is also so much more. It is also a book about a girl who is dealing with the loss of her parents. Avery, who has little to no relationship with her grandmother even though they are so close geographically, just wants to go home, but when she finally makes it to her parents' house, it's not longer home without them there. It's also a murder mystery with some all-too-human players, such as her father's friend who wants to turn the woods into a strip mall. With all of this going on, you might think that the paranormal romance aspect of the plot might push everything over the top, but it is actually what makes everything gel together.

As in all your favorite paranormals, Avery and Ben have an almost immediate feelings for each other, a bond that goes (a bit) beyond attraction (though there are plenty steamy make-out scenes). But Avery is not the swooning type. She does not also immediately trust Ben or follow all of his for-your-safety commands (why do these paranormal guys all think they're love interest are so freaking helpless?). She reserves a bit of herself for, well, herself, even as she throws herself headlong into a pretty fast-moving relationship with Ben. It is during one of their massive make-out sessions that she discovers a patch of fur on his back. Not man-sweater fur, actual fur. The fact that Ben is more than human (werewolf, to the rest of us) terrifies her, even though Ben swears he would never ever hurt her. Ben, who she feels can see into her soul. Ben, who is a distractingly good kisser. Ben, who is a certifiable monster and moved to the woods near her parents' house just before they were murdered. Ben, who also doesn't remember the night they died. Avery makes the mental jumps that any rational human would make.

I don't want to say too much more. While reading, my head was split between thinking that of course Ben killed Avery's parents and thinking, as paranormal romances have been teaching me since Twilight, that tru lurv conquers all and that Ben couldn't have possibly hurt her parents. Even though Avery and Ben hadn't met yet when they died. And even though Ben has a really good reason for wanting Avery's dad to shut his pie-hole. I was torn between the romance and the facts as we know and see them, just as Avery is. Her struggle is real and by the time she opens up and asks for help and advice, it looks like it might be too late.

About the romance: I know there has been a lot of criticism around the blogosphere about the unexplained attraction that is mistaken for love in all of these paranormal romances. Well, that's probably what's going on here too. Instead of this being a chaste "love" story (not that there is anything wrong with chaste teenage romances!) all about how hot the other person is, Avery and Ben get it on. They're attracted to each other, so they make out, feel some crazy connection to each other when they kiss, and think they're in love. Let's be honest, there's nothing all that paranormal about that. It happens to young adults, in books and in real life, all the time. As much as I wanted them to have a more meaningful relationship, it is pretty realistically portrayed. With all that is going on in Avery and Ben's lives, they don't have a ton of time to go get coffee and get to know each other. Does that mean they should constantly make-out in alleys? No, but they do. We can only hope that if Ben is not a crazed mass-murderer that they'll go back after this is all over and find out each others favorite colors.

Also, that hair turning red thing that I dropped into the booktalk? It's important. It's just dropped into the beginning of the book and its weird and scary when it happens. It's just left hanging until everything comes together in the end. It's super-subtle foreshadowing that makes you want to re-read to see if you pick it up the meaning the second time around.

Low Red Moon came out earlier this week and is available for purchase. The published copy also has 60 more pages than the arc I reviewed, allowing me to let a few holes in the story pass as I hope they're patched up by now.

Book source: ARC picked up (and signed!) at ALA


Charlotte said...

goodness--I have an arc waiting for me to find the time for it, and now I am torn between reading it now, or waiting to get a hold of the real thing and the 60 extra pages....

Lawral the Librarian said...

I'm probably going to reread this at some point with those 60 extra pages. There were definitely a few places in the ARC that needed fleshing out. Luckily many of the spots that left me wanting a bit more were written in such a way that it's pretty clear they're going to have more in the finished copy.

That said, I certainly wasn't disappointed with the ARC, but I'm kind of a sucker for paranormal romances.