Top critical review
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Fun and engaging
on 8 May 2013
I'm not a girl easily wooed. I'm "Queen of the Eye-Roll" and arched brow as guys try to make their play so when I issued a challenge to this dude called Dante to "woo me, I dare ya" I expected him to fail, brutally. Now if you'd just be so kind as to ignore my unkempt looks as I brush the dust from my clothes and get back onto my feet (I may have fallen over from swooning...) I will admit I came out the loser in that challenge (or am I the winner??)!
This book charmed me from page one. I'll admit I usually would never go for a book like this and the online marketing of it was a bit of a turn-off (Queen of the Eye-Roll remember) but some of my trusted book-bestie's were dropping like flies after been hit with a Dante shaped cupid's arrow so I decided to give it a shot. Boy, am I glad I did!
Victoria Scott created a brilliant cast of characters so gloriously realised I just want to squeeze each one and beg to be BFF's with them. Dante was just hilarious. His swagger and arrogance at the start of the book was at times a bit much but it brought me right back to being a teenager and being around that guy who is just impossibly confident and makes you feel like you will never be "cool" enough to exist in his world. As the book progresses though we understand more about who Dante really is and he "grows" literally from page to page. His barriers are chipped away and the darkness inside him is gently dispersed by a cool breeze he never saw coming, Ms Charlie Cooper!
How much do I adore this girl? Let me count the ways. Charlie just encompasses every beautiful part of a teenage girl that is dismissed as lame or dorky at the time until you grow up and look back at old photos and think wistfully "Huh, I really was beautiful..." She's not classically gorgeous, she wears unfashionable clothes and shock horror she puts her backpack on over both arms! Gasp! Remember being her? Remember knowing someone like her? I do. The beauty of Charlie is her soul. Her inner beauty, her willingness to put others first, her faith in humanity and her love for her friends, she's not the girl who will ditch them to hang out with the cool crowd. When Dante comes along to collect her soul piece by piece by convincing her to modify her appearance to a more classical idea of beauty I found myself pleading "NO Charlie, don't change! You don't need to, you're perfect just the way you are!"
Life smacks Charlie in the face too many times for even a strong character like her to not let it effect her which made the possibility that she would lose her soul all the more heartbreaking. Her friendship with Dante despite the odds was so charming to read I couldn't wipe the smile off my face. As it deepens and Dante loses the swagger and embraces the vulnerability, Scott really makes you care for these characters. The secondary characters of Annabelle, Max and Blue are equally memorable and added to the overall richness of the story. Scott does well to encapsulate the teenage voice with the slang and drawl we expect from "slouch-monsters"...I meant teenagers.
The storyline was equal parts hilarity, romance, heart-warming cheer and gut-wrenching sadness. There were so many moments where I sniggered, cried and swooned within pages of each other. There were a couple of shocks along the way and while the plot wasn't wholly predictable it did end up as I expected however with one disappointment which I won't give away. There were a few loose ends but since its part one of a trilogy I'm hoping more light will be shed on those. I honestly didn't think I would enjoy this book as much as I did and I'm equally astonished that The Liberator will be an auto-buy but The Collector was definitely a joy to read!