Sunday, 2 January 2011
YA Oscar Winner - Best Dialogue - Firespell by Chloe Neill
My favourite dialogue of the year came from Firespell, by Chloe Neill, where the teens sounded perfect throughout the book. My full review, reposted below, was first published on http://www.thebookbag.co.uk (and was provided to me via The Bookbag by the publishers in exchange for a fair and honest review.)
Lily Parker is sent to boarding school in Chicago when her parents get the opportunity to do some prestigious research work in Germany. She was expecting bitchy classmates, and she gets them – but she wasn’t prepared for her suitemate, Scout, who stays out late at night and reappears covered in bruises, a school full of secret hiding places, a principal who knows her parents and seems to have an entirely wrong idea about their work – or a mysterious group of supernatural teens called the Dark Elite.
This book is pretty much setting the scene for the series, as Scout fairly quickly ends up having to reveal the existence of the Elite to Lily, and the new girl gets dragged into a battle against the mysterious Reapers, who try to steal energy from depressed teens. This is the kind of supernatural teen fiction which has been done many, many times recently, and it’s certainly showing the influence of forerunners such as Buffy The Vampire Slayer. The biggest inspiration, though, seems to be the Gossip Girl series, namechecked several times in this novel, and the snappy, sarcasm-laden dialogue is very reminiscent of that series.
It’s that dialogue which had me glued to this book – I thought that after a quick start, the action slowed down a fair bit as the Elite revealed things to Lily, and the book worked superbly as the start to a series but maybe not quite so satisfyingly as a story in its own right. But with speech like this and some brilliant characters, Chloe Neill could have ditched the plot completely and still had me smiling right the way through. Lily and Scout are a fantastic central pairing of cool, wisecracking heroines, their friend Lesley and the catty ‘brat pack’ have some great lines and far better developed characters than the typical supporting cast in a book of this genre, and principal Marceline Foley is an intriguing authority figure. It’s also refreshing to have a supernatural series which doesn’t have as much obvious romance as the likes of Twilight and Fallen, as much as I love both of those books. There’s the obligatory hot boys – and there’s clearly some drama to come between one of them and Lily – but the love action is definitely taking a backseat to the dramatic battle between good and evil here.
I had this on four and a half stars because I think there could have been a bit more story and a bit less scene-setting – but flicking back and reading some more of the fantastic ripostes between the teens, I can’t resist boosting it to the full five. A great start to what will hopefully be a brilliant series, highly recommended.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.