The Weight of Souls by Byrony Pearce (Strange Chemistry, 2013) ..whoa! Big picture! Oops.
Sixteen year old Taylor Oh is cursed: if she is touched by the ghost of a murder victim then they pass a mark beneath her skin. She has three weeks to find their murderer and pass the mark to them – letting justice take place and sending them into the Darkness. And if she doesn’t make it in time? The Darkness will come for her…
She spends her life trying to avoid ghosts, make it through school where she’s bullied by popular Justin and his cronies, keep her one remaining friend, and persuade her father that this is real and that she’s not going crazy.
But then Justin is murdered and everything gets a whole lot worse. Justin doesn’t know who killed him, so there’s no obvious person for Taylor to go after. The clues she has lead her to the V Club, a vicious secret society at her school where no one is allowed to leave… and where Justin was dared to do the stunt which led to his death.
Can she find out who was responsible for his murder before the Darkness comes for her? Can she put aside her hatred for her former bully to truly help him?
And what happens if she starts to fall for him?
I always look out for Strange Chemistry titles, and I was a little surprised to find this nestled in the YA section at my library. I couldn’t resist!
There were many elements of this book that I really liked, but for some reason this book lacked the jazz, the pop, the fizzle that I usually want to feel when reading.
So, What Worked?
Taylor Oh – I liked her character a lot. I enjoyed her way of speaking, her way of being, and her attitude and style. She was cool.
Setting – Yes! A paranormal YA book set in Britain! There was a great sense of ‘Britishness’ in much of this book. The way the characters spoke was familiar to me, and I liked how the author hasn’t tried to make any of that ‘easier’ for a wider audience. I mean, heck, I read more American-based titles than I dare to admit! And as such, I’ve picked up a lot of habits and expressions and ways of writing- it’s nice to be reminded that the Brit way is just fine too.
Concept – I don’t think I’ve seen this before. It’s an area of the supernatural, or paranormal, or demonology/mythology, that I has not been done to death. (HA! Terrible pun..)
Style – I really enjoyed Pearce’s narrative style. It was relaxed, but also had some lovely, almost poetic descriptions that I truly appreciated.
What Didn’t Work?
The Feels – Where were they? I dunno.. I just felt like there needed to be more spark between Taylor and her dead beau. Lols. Now there’s a contradiction! Spark from a dead guy? *sniggers* It was just lacking in the FEEEEELS department.
Inter-character relationships – I felt like these weren’t explored enough. It’s kinda related to the above point because I struggled to understand why Taylor felt so strongly (either way) towards certain characters, and the back story just didn’t support her feelings and actions.
Analepsis – Flashback. Flashback. Flashback. Ancient journal. Flashback… It just didn’t work for me. I found myself skipping these parts, and I don’t think they really added much to the main story or to develop characters. It was felt like filler.
I did enjoy this book. I really liked the settings, and the way the teens moved around the city. The ‘V’ club (yeah, go on, have a laugh. I know I chuckled at first.. ‘V’ club. Do you have to have your ‘V’ card to enter? 😉 ) was a cool idea.
The ending leaves it all up in the air, really. I mean, it’s a satisfying finish, but then, you learn something massive is about to happen.. But.. I can’t find any mention of a sequel! Gah! I need to know how this will play out!!
I’m giving The Weight of Souls a happy 3.5 out of 5. I liked it a lot, but it just wasn’t zingy enough for how I like ’em.