M—'s Reviews > Lord Loss

Lord Loss by Darren Shan
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's review
Jul 05, 2009

it was ok
bookshelves: reviewed

I'm all for reading about DEATH MATCH CHESS, but even that cannot save this book for me. It seems poised to snag whatever parts of the YA demographic that have not been sucked into the Twilight vortex. ("Not interested in reading an epic romance about a sparkly vampire? Try this book about demons eating parents instead! now with copious amounts of blood!")

I liked how the hero, Grubbs Grady, gets a hard wake-up call to the realities of his world when his immediate family is slaughtered by demons, and I thought the reveal of that scene and the aftermath with Grubbs stuck in a cycle of psychiatric observation was extremely well done. But shortly after Grubbs' sole surviving adult family member arranges for Grubbs' release from observation, the narrative completely stalls and my interest took a sharp nosedive. First, wouldn't you logically expect a young teenager – having directly witnessed demons eating his family and having spent weeks in an asylum desperately pretending this hasn't happened for fear that he'll prove himself to actually be crazy, but then discovering that his uncle is the one adult in his world who believes in the demons too and who then spirits him out of the asylum to safety – to maybe ask this uncle about these demons? Maybe even ask why this horrible thing has happened to him? You wanna know how long it takes Grubbs to do this? One. Hundred. Pages. I was getting to the point while reading this that I seriously wondered if I'd accidentally skipped over the paragraph that explained this.

It's as if the author was deliberately trying to slow the pace of this book, and I can't think of a single reason why he would want to do so. The beginning grips you instantly and the ending is really good, but the middle? Ugh – the story stops dead. Did Shan think teens couldn't handle reading a novel at breakneck speed and needed some sort of slow place where they could catch their breath? That teens would be unable to relate to a story entirely about a badass demon-fighting protagonist with a burning urge to stay alive and that it would be a better idea to tone it down for a few chapters so that teens could read instead about a protagonist doing exciting things like watch movies with a friend in his living room? Or had he just had a passing whim to switch the story's genre entirely from horror to light mystery but then changed his mind and switched it back to horror again at the end? It makes no sense. If you want to write a horror story, make it horror.

Then Grubbs himself suffers from this sequence of random competence switchovers. He starts at as a sadistically nasty little brother – rigging a shower to pour rotten, liquefied rat guts on your naked sister assuredly counts as sadistic behavior – but he quickly goes through that horrible opening event and starts behaving very believably within the confines of the story, but once he gets to his uncle's house he starts acting like a careless moron and jettisons any of the experience bonus points he would have gained earlier. But then, by the very end of the book, Grubbs has another great growth of maturity and becomes responsible and interesting again. I want to throttle the author. Pick a characterization already, Shan!

I would have loved this story if it had been rewritten with a more even hand. The plot had a great premise, and Shan shows loads of creatively. As the story currently stands, the characters' behavior is too frustrating for me to enjoy.

ETA: I lent this book to my younger brother, who's very in to this sort of gorefest plotline. He friggin' loved the book, read it in the space of a week or two (books normally take him months to read), and approached me with a direct inquiry to see if I had any other titles in this series. (This never happens!) So Shan must be doing something right.
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