Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Guardian of the Dead (review)

4/5 stars

Guardian of the Dead (Goodreads | Amazon) is a good book that benefits from having an excellent narrator and audiobook.  The story itself has a lot going for it--mythology, New Zealand, a smart doesn't-take-shit from anyone heroine.  But at times, the writing drags the story down. It liked to use clever turns of phrases like "I ate till my stomach touched my jeans" which FYI doesn't make sense, and overused adverbs in dialogue tags.  Clumsily writing that detracts from an interesting tale.

Fortunately the story itself is good.  Eleanor Spencer is the new kid at boarding school.  She's in her last year before university, so she struggles to fit in with the already tight-knit group of students who have lived together for years.  But she manages to survive, snaring attractive Kevin as a best friend by being the only girl who doesn't throw herself at him, and living the life of sneaking out, drinking in the dorm and normal boarding school shenanigans.

A serial-killer who takes his victims eyes has the whole island on edge.  Ellie accidentally stumbles into the supernatural world, learning that myths aren't quite as mythical as she thought and finding herself fighting to save her best friend from creatures that he doesn't even know exist.  Maori mythology, something I know nothing about, makes this novel stand out from the rest of the paranormal offerings.  I cannot comment on the accuracy, but I like that the author avoided the typical mythological beings used in fantasy novels and introduced me to a new and equally terrifying world.

Another thing that helps this novel is Ellie herself.  She's not your typical waif of a heroine, but a large, muscular, judo fighting smartass.  The author seems acutely aware of the non-positive male/female dynamics of most paranormals, and tries to make Ellie the opposite of Bella.  At times it's heavy handed.  There's a lot of talk about no meaning no and consent, but it's nice to have a heroine who's aware that she shouldn't let boys push her around.

I don't really have much to say for the romantic elements of this book.  There were times I liked that subplot and times when it seems unnecessary.  However it's fine most of the time.

I listened to the audiobook which is very well narrated.  The New Zealand accent is simply fantastic to listen to.  I've seen a few mixed reviews of this book and I noticed some flaws myself, but if you have the chance to listen to this story I highly recommend it on audio.

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