Lisa Gant's Reviews > Bleeding Violet

Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves
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Apr 22, 12

Read from April 20 to 22, 2012

***This review contains some MINOR spoilers. I don't think it's anything that will ruin the plot, but be forewarned.***

I read several of the reviews for Bleeding Violet before I read it, and after reading it myself, I have to say that this is definitely one of those books you either "get" or you don't. Meaning, if you go into this book expecting every one of your questions to be answered succinctly in a neat little package at the end, you're going to be sorely disappointed. However, if you recognize BV for what it is---a wild and trippy world where the characters and plot don't always fit into pretty boxes, you'll be more likely to appreciate the story. And what a story it is.

I'm not one for writing summaries; many other reviewers have written better ones than I ever could, so check out those if you need more details about the story. I'll just start by saying that Hanna is one of the most unusual and fascinating heroines I have ever seen in a novel. Period. If you're looking for a Mary Sue stereotype, you won't find it here. Hanna is opinionated, emotional, resourceful and promiscuous. Did I mention she's also manic-depressive? Yikes! Although a lot of reviewers seemed to be turned off by Hanna's behavior, I found it refreshing. Maybe it's because I had a childhood friend who was bipolar, so I recognized some of her traits in Hanna. Either way, I thought it was brilliant of Dia Reeves to not only gave her heroine a mental disorder, but also to find ways to turn it into Hanna's strength.

Ultimately, this is a story about a mother/daughter relationship, and it's a doozy. I've heard Dia Reeves describe Bleeding Violet as "Mommie Dearest meets the Twilight Zone," and I honestly can't think of a better description for it. Hanna is utterly devoted to her mother Rosalee, a love that often crosses the boundary into obsession. While some aspects of their relationship border on incestuous (a certain scene involving nudity at a lake comes to mind), other moments are sweet and quite moving. I really felt that Reeves did a superb job of showing why Hanna was so desperate for Rosalee to love her, to the point where she didn't want to live without that love. It was beautiful and heart-breaking at the same time.

That said, there were times when I found Hanna's willingness to sacrifice anything for her mother annoying, especially when it came at the cost of other people (again, the scene at the lake fits quite nicely here). I think that's part of the reason why her relationship with Wyatt felt so hollow to me. I loved Wyatt as a character, but I never felt that Hanna truly cared for him, especially since she spent a lot of time using him in one way or another. I get that she adored Rosalee, but after awhile it was just too much.

Along those lines, it bugged me the way Hanna seemed to be exactly the same person at the end of the book as she was at the beginning. The reason Wyatt grew on me throughout the book was because I could see him struggle with his duties to the Mortmaine and how far he was willing to go for them. He grew and changed as a character. Hanna, however, didn't seem to change at all. I would've really liked to see her strive for more balance in her life, as opposed to remaining co-dependent with Rosalee. It didn't have to be substantial, but some change would've been nice.

Those minor quibbles aside, however, I thought this was a marvelous debut for Dia Reeves overall. I admire her ability to write the kind of story that breaks all the rules and makes people uncomfortable in the process. Few writers are brave enough to accomplish such a task. I read Bleeding Violet in the course of one weekend, but it's a book I'll be thinking about for far longer than that.
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