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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Review: All Our Pretty Songs by Sarah McCarry

All Our Pretty Songs by Sarah McCarry
Publication Date: July 30, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Series: All Our Pretty Songs #1
Young Adult
Pages: 240
Genre: Magical Realism, Romance

The first book in an exciting YA trilogy, this is the story of two best friends on the verge of a terrifying divide when they begin to encounter a cast of strange and mythical characters.
Set against the lush, magical backdrop of the Pacific Northwest, two inseparable best friends who have grown up like sisters—the charismatic, mercurial, and beautiful Aurora and the devoted, soulful, watchful narrator—find their bond challenged for the first time ever when a mysterious and gifted musician named Jack comes between them. Suddenly, each girl must decide what matters most: friendship, or love. What both girls don’t know is that the stakes are even higher than either of them could have imagined. They’re not the only ones who have noticed Jack’s gift; his music has awakened an ancient evil—and a world both above and below which may not be mythical at all. The real and the mystical; the romantic and the heartbreaking all begin to swirl together, carrying the two on journey that is both enthralling and terrifying.

And it’s up to the narrator to protect the people she loves—if she can.
*Digital galley provided by St. Martin's Griffin for an honest review*

Interesting. Confusing. Poetic. Haunting.

All Our Pretty Songs is a strange and short novel that I actually liked. The narrator, who was never given a name throughout the entire novel, and her childhood friend, Aurora, are inseparable. They grew up fatherless. Their mothers found refuge in drugs. Soon, the best friends find themselves on the fast track to parties, boys, alcohol, sex, drugs, and rest of the lot that leads to trouble. Until the narrator finds Jack, the musician with his guitar always by his side, at one of Aurora's famous parties and feels a connection as strong as the one she has for Aurora. This is her story. With love, friendship, and a journey to return the people she can't afford to lose.

Short and sweet. 240 pages is all All Our Pretty Songs has to offer for the first title in a trilogy. The poetic and lyrical prose was the zinger for this book. Gorgeous. Captivating. The page numbers were flying by without me even noticing.

The narrator has a tendency to compare herself to Aurora. Aurora is the beautiful one, the party girl, the one who all the boys fall for without asking. The narrator too is in love with her best friend. On every level that love possesses--friendship, family, a partner. When she meets Jack, after hearing him play the guitar, the nameless narrator motions on the lane towards insta-love, telling herself that she would pull a Juliet if she couldn't ever see him again or making a list of all the things she possesses that she'd give away to him and all he had to do was say the word. Between Jack and Aurora, the kissing and the deep feelings she has for the both of them, the narrator doesn't divulge her sexual orientation. She could be bisexual or she could just kiss Aurora out of endearment, curiosity, I don't know, but there are many other reasons that could be right or wrong.

Jack and Aurora didn't make the cut for characters that I liked. Raoul took that piece of cake. How he was always there for the narrator whenever she needed help or a favor. How his advice was hard and real and true. He seemed like more of a friend that Aurora could ever be for the narrator and a much more positive influence for her in the end. Aurora was always needing taking care of, looking out for by the narrator so she didn't take another leap towards suicide. Jack was just the boy who the narrator instantly fell for in my eyes. He had dreams through his music and a gift within the notes that he plays. But he didn't feel like the right fit for the narrator in a romantic sense. The only way I saw who the narrator really was was when she was with Raoul. She says that Aurora makes her who she is, but I think she's wrong. I think that Raoul makes her truly come alive and be her true self. Aurora feels more like poison, slowly taking the narrator down roads she should be led.

For the ending, I'm not sure what to make of it. As to what happened with Aurora and what happens to Jack and the dreams that the narrator has in the hospital. Who was Minos and the man with the ice-like eyes? Myths and magic seemingly come alive in this novel. It is painstakingly obvious throughout the course of this short novel. The mythical evidence in the ending pages reminded me of Orpheus's myth in her attempts to save Aurora from Minos and his "boss".  

Final Summation: ALL OUR PRETTY SONGS is a curious tale. Puzzling given the magical realism suctioned inside the story. The narrator is wishy-washy as she is tangled in a net of insta-love and purpose through her best friend rather than finding herself through herself. The fact that she doesn't even have a name exemplifies the lack of self she has been given. I did like AOPS, and I'm hoping that maybe the second installment to the trilogy will give more clarification and character development to the narrator, maybe even give us a name. And I hope there will be more Raoul, because without him, I don't think I'll continue reading this series.

First Line: Aurora and I live in a world without fathers. 
Three targets slayed. Here's looking at you, kid.