There was a time when I prayed for Rachel to be real--it ended the night she tried to kill me.
When Dani was eight, she fell from a building. No one believed her claim that she was pushed by Rachel, her imaginary friend. It took years of therapy to convince Dani that Rachel was a product of her own mind.Now fifteen, Dani wants to make it as a dancer. But a deadly freak accident sends her a terrifying message: Rachel is back, she's real, and she'll stop at nothing to kill Dani. Complicating matters is Jesse, the school bad boy who's being stalked by his own invisible childhood monster. When Dani and Jesse join forces to learn why their tormenters are back, their investigation leads to a horrifying discovery--and the secret that binds them to each other. (goodreads.com)
I was excited for DAMAGE because I was looking forward to a good YA horror read. It sounds like one, right? Except it ended up traveling down a really weird path that I didn't really see coming at all. And it was weird to the point that at times it bordered on being just downright silly. And it's a weird in a kooky but not endearing kind of way either. There were a few too many elements thrown in that really mucked it up, is what I think I'm trying to say.
I did like the two characters, Dani and Jesse, as the story alternated between their two viewpoints. But their relationship just made me heinously uncomfortable. It seemed so inappropriate considering everything that was going on. In a matter of hours they were totally in love with each other. Seriously. But that wasn't really the awkward part. Being in their respective heads I was privy to their thoughts, obviously, so when they're thinking about kissing each other when they're running from some fake FBI dudes it really threw me. Just the whole relationship seemed immensely forced. It was far too much, way too soon and insanely inappropriate for the circumstances. They didn't have any cooling off periods to dwell on anything. They were constantly moving from the turning point of the story, which was in like chapter 2. It really did not sit right with me.
Removing the relationship aspect their characters were pretty good if not a little stock-ish. Dani is the quiet yet secretly strong character while Jesse is the outwardly bad boy who's merely a product of his environment. Not bad, just not all that original. I still liked reading about them. I cared enough about them to see what happened to them. I was rooting for them the whole time and I wanted them to be okay. I just didn't like their relationship. But I already said that. They were rather smart together. They fed off each other well and not in a synergistic corruption type of situation either. They were each others' idea machines when it came to trying to get out of their problems and they really worked well together. Dani and Jesse were serious compliments to each other and I did like that.
The weirdness? I can't really say much without spoiling the entire plot. I'll just say it went really far off course of where I thought it was going to be. Bad guys are everywhere and can be anyone and horrible, horrible things happened to the characters when they were younger that they weren't aware of. Rachel would have been a phenomenal entity in a purer horror setting but in DAMAGE she's a bit subdued. Although I will give Parrish credit for not skimping on the carnage. Loved it. As demented as that sounds. She wasn't afraid to do what needed to be done with her tools. But this isn't a horror story. Not really. It's kind of more science fiction/conspiracy theory stuff and it kind of ruined the juju for me a little when it started to reveal itself. Again it wasn't bad it was just really off course for me.
Overall it's not terrible. It's entertaining and the characters are likable enough that I think you'd enjoy reading about them. They really do act like kids stuck in a terrible situation and I believed most of their actions. Dani and Jesse worked really well together although I felt Dani got over the death of her seemingly best friend far too quickly (chapter 1/2 element). Made her look a bit callous. But she's still endearing to an extent. I liked watching her come out of the shell that she made for herself. I don't think Jesse changed all that much from beginning to end although he kept saying Dani was the first person he really loved aside from his sister in his entire life. But other than that he was pretty static. It's an entertaining read. Just don't go into it thinking it's horror. It's not and I think that's one of the major reasons that I didn't think more of DAMAGE. Stupid expectations. Or perhaps just off-point blurbing.
Ban Factor: High - Super scary creatures and kids being murdered? Yeah, I'm pretty sure that would rile the storms.