Dark Star

Dark Star - Bethany Frenette Dark Star is just so delightfully clichéd. I don’t really know how else to put it. This book is not just a mediocre YA urban fantasy, but it’s basically what I wish mediocre all books were like. Weird thing to say, I know, but it’s true. This book, however, has somehow managed to combine all sorts of trite and overused story elements, contribute very little original content, and completely fail to be offensive. It’s sad that I have to point that out, but considering the market these days, it seems I do. If truly good books only happen a few times a year, then this is the kind of novel you want to read while waiting. The kind that’s fun, entertaining, worth the cover price, and doesn’t insult your intelligence along the way.THE GOODAudrey, the main character, was a solid narrator. She really came through as a normal teenage girl, going through a normal high school experience. A bit bland, but no more so than is normal for a first-person narrator. She’s funny, snarky, but still gets bowled on her ass when heavy shit starts falling. She’s allowed to feel fear, she’s allowed to react strongly to that fear, and she experiences real consequences because of it. Girls, girls, girls! There’s a delightful preponderance of girls in this novel! All kinds of girls! There’s cheery girls and creepy girls and good girls and evil girls and strong girls and weak girls AND THEN THERE’S MORE GIRLS! Most of the cast of this novel is female, which just tickles me pink.The plot-to-fluff ration is heavy on the plot. If that’s not your bag, sorry, but I loved it. Romance, while present, was properly put in its place: a few dozen steps below the impending end of the world. And the plot is fairly decently paced. It stays the focus of the novel and progresses well, never petering off into neglect for the sake of some subplot. The writing is really, really funny when it wants to be. The side characters are all gold. I love them. Every one is interesting, and every one feels like there’s so much more to tell. It’s almost like Audrey’s is brushing against other stories that we only get to see a glimpse of. Which, really, is how it should be. These side characters do have their own adventures and histories and stories; they’re not just props that exist for the sake of Audrey’s story. And while they’re all connected, there’s so much more beneath the surface, inviting us to fill the rest in with our imagination. (Or with sequels.)THE BADThe plot may be paced well, but the rest of it isn’t. Audrey doesn’t just learn about the impending end of the world here; she also learns about a whole new race (that she’s part of) and new group of people who have their own new culture. Only…she doesn’t really learn much. She goes to ‘lessons’ where we’re told that her teacher taught her ‘all about’ the history and organization and yadda yadda of this group…but then we never see the group. We never see that culture and that organization and that yadda yadda. We barely see any people from that group outside of the handful of the main cast. The romance, also, is poorly paced. There’s very little of it, which I honestly liked, but that doesn’t seem to have changed the ending. In the last few pages of the novel, Audrey suddenly decides it’s passionate make-out time. She skips straight from ‘maybe I have a crush on him, but it’s very slight and new’ to ‘yup, done deal, kissing time now.’ Very awkward.While the writing is sarcastic and funny, all the comedy was similar. The characters tend to have good, distinct voices…until it’s time to banter with Audrey, and then they all do their verbal sparring in exactly the same way. The characters are a bit tired. They’re all tropes we’ve seen before, and even though I do love them, it’s hard to deny that there’s nothing really new to be found. It’s just that, for me, I actually like the tropes being represented here, so I don’t really care how many times I run across them.The bad guy is completely absent from the novel, and his boogieman status wasn’t set up well enough for that to actually work.Audrey’s powers work better as an abstract concept than as actually portrayed. They’re very spotty and show up only at the most convenient moments, and most of the time used only to deliver ham-fisted insights into other character’s pasts. The writing is very vague, especially when it comes to describing monsters and action. There’s a lot of metaphor that actually fails to describe anything; it just comes off as waffling, inexact poetry. It works fine when Audrey is supposed to be scared and disoriented (works great for that, really) but the rest of the time, not so much.THE UGLYNot much ugly in this book, like I said before. Just irritating. However, I was not happy that Audrey didn’t get her first crush-y heart-flutter for the love interest until right after he pinned her down and kept her from leaving the kitchen by force. Just…not even close to what I’d call a romantic action.