Review: Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George

silver-in-the-blood-cover

2.5Stars

Rating: 2.5 Stars

Society girls from New York City circa 1890, Dacia and Lou never desired to know more about their lineage, instead preferring to gossip about the mysterious Romanian family that they barely knew. But upon turning seventeen, the girls must return to their homeland to meet their relatives, find proper husbands, and—most terrifyingly—learn the deep family secrets of The Claw, The Wing, and The Smoke. The Florescus, after all, are shape-shifters, and it is time for Dacia and Lou to fulfill the prophecy that demands their acceptance of this fate… or fight against this cruel inheritance with all their might.

[This Book in One Sentence: In the Victorian era, two high-society girls are taken to their Romanian homeland to learn a shocking family secret that could unravel the very fabric of European society.]

Another book with potential that never even came close to the quality-based finish line.

I was introduced to this novel by the Goodreads new releases page. Silver in the Blood‘s beautiful cover and intriguing synopsis made me take further steps to obtain it–namely, checking it out at the local library! *high-fives the librarian*

Actually, I take that high-five back. Go away, librarian.

….

Silver in the Blood just doesn’t have the literary it factor.

This novel reads like a cheap bubblegum book from the airport souvenir store. With the original premise, it could have soared to incredible heights. But it didn’t. I’m sad. This makes me sad.

Some might make the excuse that this is a genre book, so they say that it’s not “meant” to soar to new heights. I disagree. I have read numerous genre books that are breakthrough works with beautifully woven stories. So, let’s begin.

The Good:

  1. Premise
  2. Format
  3. Setting

Premise and Setting:

Awesome premise, right? I know that paranormal fiction has been outrageously overdone in young adult fiction, BUT Silver in the Blood was promising. The basis of the plot reads like a fresh fruit ripe for picking. And its luscious Gothic setting in the 1890s Victorian era, with two likable young ladies to boot, really made the novel seem like a potential favorite.

Format: 

I appreciated Silver in the Blood‘s format. It has alternating chapters that feature the girls as a protagonist pair–Dacia has one chapter, and Lou has the next. BUT, what really sold me on the unique format was its dedication to a time-appropriate setting. Letters, diary entries and telegrams were placed between the chapters so that the reader really gets a feel for the personalities and current emotions of Dacia and Lou.

The Bad:

Unfortunately, there are major problems that I must discuss with you, dear readers:

  1. Flat Writing Style
  2. Shoddy Character Development, Even Shoddier Villains
  3. Excruciatingly Awful Pacing
  4. A Plot That Doesn’t Deliver

Flat Writing Style:

The writing style was distracting at best and mediocre at worst. It just felt so shaky and flat. Although the setting itself was nice, the descriptions of said setting were limited to talking about the flowers, shops and castles that the girls visited. A good story makes you forget that it’s a story. Silver in the Blood doesn’t do that; instead, I was constantly reminded of this fact, thanks to the contrived writing style.

Shoddy Character Development:

I cannot let go of this one. Dacia, Lou, and perhaps Aunt Kate are the only halfway developed characters. Everyone else, from the love interests to the bad guys to the rest of the family, is undeveloped and unrealistic. So disappointing.

There were absolutely NO realistic motivations for what the family was doing–like, at all. Likewise, the villain was, of course, led only by an inherent cartoonish madness. I feel like the writer was thinking, “My villain can’t have real person traits, they’re too mean! Let’s just stick a bunch of tropey evil tropes on ’em! *stick stick stick stick*”

Excruciatingly Awful Pacing:

Even though we all know the secret from the synopsis, guess what? The girls don’t find out until one-third of the way through the book. I don’t know who thought that was a good idea. Suspense is wasted because the audience is already aware of the basis of the secret, so the story just drags on with the girls being in the dark and the reader shouting, “JUST TELL THEM ALREADY!!!”

That was another hugely disappointing aspect of this novel. Pacing will kill a book or bring it to life. Silver in the Blood died before it even got started.

A Plot That Doesn’t Deliver:

After >100 pages of waiting, the plot finally begins. It’s disappointing.

In order to have an exciting plot, you need to build your characters; that includes their loyalties, motivations, desires. As a writer, you cannot just describe their physical appearance plus their surface personality and call it a day.

The only desires that I saw were the girls’ half-baked romances with unworthy men. These love interests were barely introduced before becoming passionate men of war who somehow completely understood the plights of our poor, poor protagonists. *blech*

Everyone’s motivations were askew. I often found myself asking questions about their complete and utter ridiculousness. Like, why were they doing this? Does EVERYONE in this book have the intelligence of burnt toast?

I can’t give anything away about the plot without spoiling it, but Silver in the Blood is your run-of-the-mill YA novel with a Terrible Family Secret + Prophecy + Quiet Girl and Flirtatious Bold Girl + Dashing Debonair Bachelors + I’M TIRED ALREADY.

Conclusion

Although Jessica Day George is usually a middle-grade novelist (writing books for adolescents under the age of 14), Silver in the Blood was created for a different market: older readers between the ages of 16 and 25. It is supposed to be a young adult novel for the older adolescents and young adults.

I think that George might still be stuck on middle-grade suspense and mystery strategies, which entertain the middle-schooler crowd but are painfully obvious to anyone older.

I have said all that I need to say. Silver in the Blood had a lovely premise and two protagonists who could have shined. Unfortunately, the flat writing, slow pacing and poor character development cast a shadow over the story that made it everlastingly distracting and mediocre. Thus, my official rating is 2.5 stars.

I do know that others have enjoyed it. This is simply my opinion. If you want to read Silver in the Blood, go ahead. Maybe you will find more positive qualities than I could. In that event, please feel free to discuss it with me. I’d love to hear what you have to say.

Although I consider it to be a dull novel that needs work, I’d recommend Silver in the Blood to lovers of paranormal fiction, Gothic and Victorian settings and good ol’ werewolves. 

Silver in the Blood was published on July 7th, 2015 by Bloombury USA Childrens.

One thought on “Review: Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George

  1. Anya says:

    Ugh yes me too! I’m actually a huge fan of George’s Castle Glower books and find them to have much better characters and more interesting plots despite being for middle grade readers! I was so excited about her venturing into YA but wow did she drop the ball.

    Liked by 1 person

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