Bookphile's Reviews > Scorch

Scorch by Gina Damico
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's review
Aug 14, 2012

it was ok
bookshelves: arc, 2012, young-adult-paranormal-fantasy, amazon-vine
Read from August 14 to 17, 2012

** spoiler alert ** When I finished the book, I thought I would need some time to reflect on it and decide what to give it. I was very conflicted, because there are some things I really like about the book, yet I also felt it had some deep flaws. I was uneasy about Croak, but this book just made me even more unhappy with some of the series' flaws. There will be some pretty major spoilers (for both Croak and Scorch) in this review, so be forewarned.

My biggest, hugest beef with this series is the consequences of Lex's actions just aren't serious enough. In the first book, Lex's actions get her sister killed. Yes, she is angsty over it, but that angst doesn't stop her from continuing down a path that is only going to lead to more regrettable actions. Yet, in spite of this, nothing really ever seems to be all that bad for Lex. Cordy is happy in the Afterlife, effectively letting Lex off the hook for her death. When Lex Damns Corpp, Dora immediately forgives her and, once again, Lex is let off the hook. Various and assorted other characters die or are injured during the course of the book, but Lex never really has to feel badly about this because their deaths are all for the cause. Most egregious of all, Lex doesn't really need to feel badly about what happens to Driggs, because she decides at the end of the book that she's going to fix him. All of this is what seriously hinders these books from rising above a form of entertainment and into the realm of books that are a little more serious.

The second flaw of this series is that I am starting to have a pretty adverse reaction to Lex. It's easy to identify her and to understand her righteous indignation in the face of what she must do. It certainly wouldn't be an easy thing to witness heinous crimes and to just walk away from them because interfering would mean bad things for the universe. I can see how that would wear away at a person. But when it's finally revealed that Lex has been doing some Damning of her own and conveniently allowing the blame to fall on Zara, that's where my disappointment with Lex really knew no bounds. I feel like this series tries to ask some really hard questions about morality, but Lex is so blissfully free of having to pay for her choices that it's hard to really take that aspect of the series seriously. If Lex is going to go down the path of declaring herself judge, jury, and executioner, there needs to be consequences to it. I'd feel better about her character if this was the case. As it is, Lex is delving into an extremely gray area of morality here, but she's none the worse the wear for it, and that bothers me a whole lot.

Mort also receives a share of my ire. He falls into that category of adult who keeps things from the kids just because they're kids and because it's convenient for the plot. I can buy Dumbledore keeping things from Harry because Dumbledore was in denial about the effect that would have, but I am so impatient with Mort. Rather than telling Lex why everyone resents her presence in Croak, rather than warning her about Grotton, he allows her to bumble about in the dark, eventually leading her to the steaming heap she ends up in at the end of the novel. That's just unforgivable. At the end, Lex is happy because Mort has her back, but all I could think was, "He does? Since when?" I really like Mort, but it is so disappointing that, at no point, did I ever feel like he was really doing what was best for his niece.

This book also had the same problem as its predecessor: the secondary characters are often interesting and have unique personalities, but they're essentially just there to further the plot. I can't help but feel like they're just walking plot devices rather than people in their own right. This wasn't the case for Driggs in the first novel, but I felt that's what he ultimately becomes in this one.

In fact, not even Zara is spared from this fate. For two books, she is the big villain and, yet, the end she meets is decidedly anti-climactic, not to mention rather absurd. Why does everyone spend so much of the book just running away from her when they could coordinate their efforts to catch her? They know where she's going to strike, because they know she will come after Lex and Driggs. Plenty of other characters are allowed to effectively become canon fodder, but not Lex and Driggs. Wouldn't it make more sense for them to be used as bait? If one was lost in the process, wouldn't that have been a whole lot more meaningful--and saved a whole lot more lives--than simply allowing person after person to be sacrificed?

And, lastly, I just cannot stand Norwood and Heloise. Yes, the reader isn't meant to like them, but they are just so campy, cartoony, over-the-top that it was impossible to suspend my disbelief. There is something so great about when a villain is done well. There is something so awful about when they're just outright bad, and Norwood and Heloise fall into this category. The psychology is there, and I could buy it if they just acted in a more subtle way. Instead, they often seem like deranged toddlers, and that just made it too far-fetched for me. Do I believe a bunch of townspeople would follow insidious bad guys who fanned the flames of fear and paranoia? Yes. Do I believe a bunch of townspeople would follow shrieking, hysterical bad guys who practically smack them over the head with the absurdity of their off-base accusations? No. And, yet, this is precisely what almost all of the residents of Croak do. Apparently, good judgement isn't a requirement for joining the Grimsphere.

Yet even with all this criticism, I do not actively dislike this series and, in fact, I plan on reading the next book. Why? Because it is so imaginative, and the world building is just so awesome. I loved DeMyse, loved the idea of a town whose residents prefer to live an amusement park life of blissful ignorance. I love what this says about human indifference.

I love the Afterlife, love seeing figures like Poe and Tut pop up in unexpected and amusing ways. Every time Lex walks into the Afterlife, I know I'm in for a treat of the imagination, and the book never fails in this regard.

But the fact of the matter is that all of this great imaginative power isn't enough to save me from feeling supremely disappointed with the book as a whole.
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02/19/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Heather This is precisely how I feel about the series, but much more eloquently put. Thank you!

Bookphile It's a shame because the series felt so fresh and full of potential. I like my main characters flawed, but not to the point where they begin to disgust me.

Victoria Definitely agree with your description of Norewood's and Heloise's characters. too cartoonish and over-the-top.

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