Review: “Velveteen” by Daniel Marks

Title: “Velveteen”

Author: Daniel Marks

Genre: Older YA/New Adult, Urban Fantasy, Mystery, AWESOME

Publication Date: October 9, 2012 (Random House – North America)

Source: NG Review Copy/ARC provided by publisher

Summary: Velveteen Monroe is dead. At 16, she was kidnapped and murdered by a madman named Bonesaw. But that’s not the problem.

The problem is she landed in purgatory. And while it’s not a fiery inferno, it’s certainly no heaven. It’s gray, ashen, and crumbling more and more by the day, and everyone has a job to do. Which doesn’t leave Velveteen much time to do anything about what’s really on her mind.


Velveteen aches to deliver the bloody punishment her killer deserves. And she’s figured out just how to do it. She’ll haunt him for the rest of his days.

It’ll be brutal… and awesome.

But crossing the divide between the living and the dead has devastating consequences. Velveteen’s obsessive haunting cracks the foundations of purgatory and jeopardizes her very soul. A risk she’s willing to take—except fate has just given her reason to stick around: an unreasonably hot and completely off-limits coworker.

Velveteen can’t help herself when it comes to breaking rules… or getting revenge. And she just might be angry enough to take everyone down with her.

☆: 4.5/5 stars – I must have book two NOW.

Review: Oh, guys, this book is such a pleasant breath of fresh air for YA lit, regardless of subgenre. I didn’t feel like hitting anyone because of inadequate writing, and I wasn’t bored at any one point at all. However, I can see why some people couldn’t get into this one as Velvet is one of the most awesome heroines YA has seen in a long time. If you want something that takes a lot of risks with a ton of payoff this fall release season, make sure it’s “Velveteen”.

Okay, so, I can see where a lot of readers couldn’t get into this book – for many, Velvet was just too masculine, or the scenes with Bonesaw were a little too graphic for them. Hey, that’s cool. Different strokes for different folks, and all of that. For me, though, this is the cutting edge of older YA/New Adult – I love how utterly unafraid Marks was of writing this cross-gender narration and making Velvet sound like a real girl (just not screamingly feminine and passive, like so many of the YA heroines that have been making the rounds lately), and how unafraid he was of showing the more gristly and awful sides of life that have seemingly been so muted or underportrayed by YA heroines in YA as of late.

And that got me thinking. So here it is: guys, in YA, we have to start taking more risks. We can’t always have hearts and flowers (or as the case may be lately, hearts and vampires and werewolves). It can’t always be full of love triangles and swooning heroines. Sometimes life is horrible. And someone needs to talk about that.

And Marks does it in a fantastic way. He could have had Velvet as a clingy, brooding heroine looking at Nick as a way to save herself and destroy Bonesaw for her, but he didn’t take that route. He took the dirty, often sad humanist route – treading the path of revenge and trying not to get consumed by it, balanced out with the darkly luminous locales of Purgatory and everything that comes with it. For the entire book, well up until the last few chapters, Velvet is wrestling with her wish to take her final revenge on Bonesaw – even with seeing how taking that revenge could change her and help destroy her and all of her friends in Purgatory (and Purgatory itself) in the process. And on top of that, to make sure everyone knows how bad the idea of haunting your killer can twist you, he shows souls-turned-terrorists who want to “free” souls so that they can permanently wear humans “like shoes” (I kid you not, that’s the wording used and it’s brutal but perfect) within a state of possession.

Is that cool? I think that’s awesome. Not only is it a good message of balancing your anger and make sure it does NOT destroy you, but it also is a cautionary tale of what happens when you do let it consume you. Just in the shape of a sullen but feisty teenage girl with lots of other souls/ghosts helping her out.

Let’s get to the technical details: the worldbuilding. Absolutely gorgeous. Can you imagine having to cover yourself because you shine so bright in a place so dark you could actually blind people? That’s Purgatory for you. All of the places and things that humanity has discarded over the years has made their way to it, with the help of Salvage teams like Velvet’s, giving everyone occupational therapy until they’ve figured out what’s keeping them there and from there on, go to their final reward. The world and the main sub-plot of life in Purgatory are pretty closely intertwined, and the characters all knit very well back into the world really well. It was so detailed it felt real. And I actually kind of wanted to go see it because it sounded so, well, nice. Even if it’s a place for trapped souls.

The characters: while we don’t get a lot of development on our secondary antagonist (Clay) well into half of the book, we still get a great main cast of characters, everyone from the main antagonist (Bonesaw) and protagonist (Velvet) to the more minor characters like Logan, Nick, and Luisa. Everyone fits back into the world more or less perfectly, and all of them generally worked really well for me (though I hope we do get more on Manny and the secrets of Purgatory that she’s holding in book 2).

Sensory language and imagery: made me nauseous and at times had to put the book down and walk away to get some air. That’s when you know the author is doing his job right. Enough said.

I liked how frosty Velvet initially was toward Nick – their relationship felt really natural, and did not go at the speed of light. It was nice to be able to ease into a paranormal romance like this, as it feels like so many of them are insta-love as of late. I liked how thoroughly Velvet fought her own feelings, aware of how they could screw both of them (no pun intended) in terms of their jobs and precarious places in Purgatory. The sheer amount of thought from Velvet alone on romance was refreshing, and I would like some more of that from YA, period, please.

Otherwise? You seriously cannot miss this release this year. Really. It’s that awesome. “Velveteen” is out October 9th from Random House, so be sure to go and check it out then. Its place on my best of 2012 list is well deserved, so go and give it a chance.


2 thoughts on “Review: “Velveteen” by Daniel Marks

  1. Pingback: usagi’s challenges for 2012! | birth of a new witch.

  2. Pingback: Stacking the Shelves – Week 21 | birth of a new witch.

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