(Click the book cover to see on Goodreads)
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Title: Becoming Darkness
Author: Lindsay Francis Brambles
Length: 496 pages
Publication: October 1st 2015 by Switch Press
Note: Capstone sent me this e-book via Netgalley for free in exchange for my honest review.
Like everyone else living in Haven, seventeen-year-old Sophie Harkness is an Immune–a carrier of the genetic mutation that protects her from the virus Hitler unleashed upon the world more than half a century ago. A virus that wiped out most of humanity and turned two-hundred million people into vamps. But after her best friend is brutally murdered and several attempts are made on her own life, Sophie becomes determined to find answers to what seems to be a conspiracy running generations deep. And when she questions the peace treaty that keeps her small community protected, Sophie begins to discover terrible truths about herself and what it means to be human in a world ruled by darkness.
Lindsay Brambles’ debut young adult novel is a story of an alternate universe: Hitler won the war, our modern technologies never evolved, and the Nazis’ terrifying reign still continues. This fast-paced novel will appeal to readers who guzzle up genre mashups and are looking for a fresh hybrid to sweep them away.
‘Becoming Darkness’ is written in first person past with the narrator being seventeen-year-old Sophie Harkness. Even so, the book contains partial insight into what other characters are thinking. Thus, it gives the effect that Sophie’s aware of what the people around her are thinking, which clashes with her other personality traits.
Pacing: This story relied on a slow-build. Minuscule clues and hints were released sporadically and over a large sections of time, which made them feel disjointed. This resulted in the bigger plot reveals having less impact. Without the full force of these major plot points, the story lacked peaks, which keep the reader interested.
World: The world is post-WWII except the Allies lost the war. For this reason, many of the technologies we have nowadays do not exist in the world of Haven. It’s as if all technological advancement has stunted. In that sense, the world is more along the lines of 1940s American, which gives the story a historical fiction vibe.
Writing: The writing style was quite comprehensive in everything that happened. It made sure that everything was very clear and concise, but in so doing, it came out dry.
Non-Spoilered Plot: Sophie Harkness throws herself from her average lifestyle when she begins asking questions about the supposedly ‘normal protocol’ in Haven, questions some people would rather she not ask. Yet, even as attempts are made on her life, she demands the truth. She knows everything isn’t what it seems and that people are lying to her, which makes her all the more determined to find answers, no matter the cost.
Character: Sophie Harkness was a rather annoying character because she’s bipolar. As such, it was as if she didn’t have a defined personality and on the occasions where she found her personality, she wouldn’t stay true to it. This was enhanced when, every so often, she’d use a word above her normal vocabulary level. After all, Sophie comes off as lacking intelligence and intuition.
Plot: The main plot of ‘Becoming Darkness’ is one of self-discovery for Sophie Harkness, but is unique because of the setting and events that take place around her, and the revelations made about who, and what, she is. Even so, almost every plot point was predictable. The hints and clues left along the way, while meant to be subtle, were easy to guess, leaving the reader with the answers many paragraphs, even chapters, before Sophie realizes it herself.
Perhaps this comes from her lifestyle in Haven, a place where she’s expected to have lots of children for the sake of humanity and not use her brain any more than is necessary for a mundane life. Yet, given her relationship with a vampire, Valentine, one would expect her to be more prone to quick thinking. After all, she’s spent years making excuses to sneak around with Val(what with everyone in Haven hating vampires, except for Sophie). Though, the relationship often felt forced and faked, and seemed to have very little plot value.
In regards to the sub-plot of Sophie trying to figure out what’s going on and why people are trying to kill her, most of the events occur only because Sophie is reckless. Time and time again she makes the wrong choice. It’s obvious she’s making the wrong choice, and she realizes she’s making the wrong choice and should go about her normal life, but she refuses to listen to that little voice inside her head. Instead, she plows into danger no matter how foolhardy it is.
While necessary to advance the plot, it was annoying to have her make the same choices over and over again. It was as if she didn’t learn and showed no character growth during her adventures. While the world may have changed around her, she ended up back at square one with the same foolish, seventeen-year-old mind she started with.
Though, my major qualm with the end of the story was the excessive numbered of unanswered questions. More and more questions built up during the story and yet none of them are truly answered at the end, such as: ‘where did the Old Ones come from?’ ‘How do they think Chloe’s blood can send them back?’ ‘Who is Chloe’s father?’ ‘What is so special about Sophie that makes her baby the savior of the universe?’
With all of these questions left unanswered, the book felt unfinished. There were so many loose ends that hadn’t been tied up and that, mixed with Sophie’s lack of character development, leaves my rating of ‘Becoming Darkness’ at two stars.