Monday, August 22, 2011

In the Arms of Stone Angels by Jordan Dane

Published March 28, 2011.

Two years ago I did a terrible thing. I accused my best friend of being a killer after seeing him kneeling over a girl’s body. That moment and that outcast boy still haunt me. Now my mom is forcing me back to Oklahoma and I can’t get White Bird out of my mind. But when I find out he’s not in juvie—that he’s in a mental hospital, locked in his tormented brain at the worst moment of his life—I can’t turn my back on him again.

No one wants me to see him. My mom doesn’t trust me. The town sheriff still thinks I was involved in the murder. And the other kids who knew the dead girl are after me. I’m as trapped as White Bird. And when I touch him, I get sucked into his living hell, a vision quest of horrifying demons and illusions of that night. Everything about him scares me now, but I have to do something. This time I can’t be a coward. This time I have to be his friend.

Even if I get lost, as well...

This was an interesting one and I'm still not too sure how I feel about it despite having finished it a couple weeks ago. I did like it. It had a particular ambiance to it that made it creepy but a great murder-mystery all at the same time. Without a doubt I kept turning the pages because I was DYING to find out what happened to White Bird, or what was going to happen to Brenna at the hands of, really, ignorant rednecks.

At the same time the individual elements are a bit cliched. The ending was a surprise but at the same time I wasn't really taken aback by what happened. I'd seen it done so many times before that the effect was gone despite everything. It was a race war coupled with a popularity contest mixed in with a small town governed by a few people. The smaller elements of the story kept me from liking it more than what I really did.

Overall, the plot was definitely compelling. I couldn't stop reading. Everything that kept happening to Brenna, the people she kept coming in contact with, the clues that were unraveling, all drew me in and held onto me tight. I think Dane did a great job of keeping the mystery buried until that pivotal moment when all was revealed. Granted I'm not the best when it comes to recognizing elements like that in books (or movies for that matter) but even in hindsight I didn't see any holes that could potentially give anything away. Dane's writing was great in that respect. She can write a mystery and keep it a mystery while making it heart-breaking and soul-grabbing all at the same time.

But the small elements to it, the secondary characters, the "popular" crowd, the cops, just screamed cliche to me. Everything fit together nicely for your standard Lifetime movie to take place. At least I liked it more than your regular Sunday afternoon chick flick.

At the end of the day, I'd still recommend IN THE ARMS OF STONE ANGELS because it really is a riveting mystery. Dane's writing will suck you in and hold on to you, not letting you go until the end. Brenna's circumstances will have you empathizing with her the entire time and, like her, you'll have the drive to want to know what really happened that night two years ago. That is if all of the other cliches don't get to you. Try not to let them. It's a great story that deserves the attention. It just has some rather boring elements to it. Dane's writing is really what'll keep you reading anyway. So while some of the elements are lackluster, the story will propel you from one end of the book to the other. I'd like to read more of Dane's writing just because she's a master at plotting. Total writer envy.

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