Saturday, June 11, 2011

Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves review

Bleeding Violet

Dia Reeves
Young Adult

First of all - let's do some homage to the cover. Yep. Even though this pose is one of the seemingly standard poses of quite of few of the YA books that have come out in the last year, there are a couple things that make it stand out. First of all - the cover model. The character is bi-racial, and hallelujiah! This girl looks at least biracial herself. Second - the color purple with all the fabric and swirling around...the purple has a special significance for Hanna, and she makes her own clothes. All in purple or various shades of purple. So even though many other books have the same fabricky feel to the cover, and pretty much the same pose.....This stands out. Great job on matching a cover to the actual story. Love It.

Now the story. Young adult reads aren't usually my first pick...there's a huge gap between my age and the character ages....and some of the young adult books I've skimmed have been ....well, way too young adult for me. Which is fine, they really aren't marketed to 50 year old women, after all. That said, there are a few young adult series that I do read, just because they are so kick-ass. Bleeding Violet is such a well written book with such a crazed - seriously crazed - character that once I opened it, my interest was caught until I finished reading it.

Basically, Hanna is a teen, whose father has died. She's been living with her aunt, but has had a bit of trouble (bloody and violent trouble) and chose to leave abruptly, making her way to the small town down south where her mother lives. Her mother hasn't been part of the family for a very long time, and has not been in touch with Hanna. So Hanna has been absolutely CRAVING her mother's love and goes in search of it. She's going to make her mother love her no matter what.....whether her mom wants to or not. She will do ANYthing to get her mother's love.

It's important to know here that Hanna isn't your run of the mill teen. She has some major mental illness going on - the type that causes her to have hallucinations, visual and auditory. It seems she's barely controlled with medication and rarely takes it as prescribed. Along with hallucinations, Hanna's brain and consciense works on a whole different level than "normal" people's consciences. Not surprisingly, there is no real empathy or understanding of other people's feelings, right or wrong. There is just what Hanna needs and wants. Mostly. I have to hand it to the author for letting this shine through without explaining it to death - it's revealed with Hanna's thoughts and actions.

In the first few chapters, Hanna has some hallucinations and of course doesn't bat an eye - she's used to seeing and hearing things that others don't. But slowly, as the novel progresses, she and the reader begins to realize that it's not all in her head. I think at this point Hanna begins to feel "at home" or as at home as she'll ever feel anywhere. Her mother is a cold, cold character - making it clear to Hanna that she doesn't want to deal with her, has no time for her. But Hanna is so compelled to make this work, that she basically overrides her mother's rejections, and continuously tries to please her mother, to make her accept her. Her mother continues to reject her...there's much more going on, but you have to read it to appreciate it all.

Hanna also meets a boy that she becomes interested in, even though at first he's pretty rude to her. The attempts at winning her mother's love and acceptance as well as dealing with this boy that she's decided she will have make an interesting if bloodthirsty tale. If you are squeamish at all, you might have a bit of trouble with this novel.

The further you go into the story, the more complex it becomes, the more crazed and twisted the actions of not only Hanna, but her mother, her boyfriend and the town leaders - who also do some pretty radical things.

All in all, this book was pretty amazing. From the inner dialogue or narration of Hanna (it's first person), to the strange happenings in town (hallucinations? Magic? Evil? All of the above?) there is plenty of adventure, bloodspillage, creepiness, and mental anguish. There is also the father....who Hanna converses with on a regular basis - even though he's dead.

I can say that this is the most twisted and strange novel that I've ever read. I enjoyed the fact that the main character was really afflicted with a mental illness and never shied away from it. The author never sugar coated the thoughts or actions of Hanna or the other not-so-wonderful personalities and the story remained interesting and compelling throughout. I believe that Dia Reeves did an amazing job of portraying a young woman's mentally challenged brain, suffering from hallucinations and later reveling in her situation and using the mental illness -mixing it into the magic and mayhem of the plot. The narrative flowed, the dialogue was good and the whole thing mixed into a wonderfully horrifying and creepy story of love, mental illness, magic, evil and acceptance. Wow.

Bleeding Violet has been out for quite a while, over a year. I recently was able to buy a paperback version. Ms Reeves has released another book titled Slice of Cherry, which promises to be even more disturbing than Bleeding Violet. With her writing skills, you can be sure it's going to be disturbing and yet a compellingly creepy read. (really, go look at the book blurb! or use the link to read an excerpt)

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