From Goodreads: 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?
This novel was phenomenal! I was enraptured from the very beginning, watching Taylor walk into the depths of a violent gang to pass on the mark, noting her vast courage and fortitude as she attempted to trap a killer. With her “them or me” mentality, drilled into her from a young age, Taylor runs the gauntlet of danger throughout this entire novel trying to stave off the Darkness, keeping it at bay one murdered soul at a time.
Enter Justin and his teenage followers: the popular crowd who enjoy nothing more than to plague Taylor at every turn. They don’t know about the Darkness; they don’t know Taylor sees the dead, or that the murdered’s touch is the reason she wears gloves, hoping to cover the ever deepening black mark death leaves on her hand. All the populars know is that she’s different. And “different” in high school terms means the end of all social acceptance. The brunt of their spiteful attacks and malicious slurs tend to fall on deaf ears, however, as Taylor is a strong female lead; she’s more interested in saving her soul than fitting in. And I loved this about her. She’s not afraid to assert herself or speak up against her tormentors, though it never brings about much good. Yet when faced with the death of the most popular of her tormentors, Justin, Taylor has to do more than fight back—she must fit in in order to figure out the truth before it’s too late, before the Darkness comes for her.
The fact that her scientist father doesn’t believe anything Taylor says about her curse, chalking it all up to a disease he’s intent on curing, only adds another barrier that she must overcome in order to continue roaming the streets in search of murderers, attempting to keep away the Darkness and also convince her father she’s not crazy. I can’t imagine being in her situation and having a parent disregard my words and insist on extracting my blood in attempts to heal me, but Taylor bares it quite well, following in her deceased mother’s footsteps, so it seems. Now, there’s a story that’s highly intriguing! Learning all about Taylor’s family curse, passed down from her mother’s side, was fascinating. I loved the glimpses and stories we’re given as Taylor reads from her mother’s book, the one that explains how it all began and sets the stage for the upcoming fight with the Darkness that readers know is bound to come.
This novel is unlike anything I’ve read before, and I loved the sleuthing Taylor undertakes, as well as learning the truth about Justin, the V Club, and watching Taylor risk her life in order to impede the Darkness. It’s very well written, and as I said before, I just adore Taylor and her inner strength. Regardless of all the obstacles set before her, she diligently tries to do what is right and protect others. Justin grew on me too, though I really hated him in the beginning, even though his side-kick James is actually the more threatening of Taylor’s tormenting group, made all the more sinister by the revelation of the V Club.
The whole idea of the V Club was fascinating, and it made me think of all those underground clubs that are rumored to have been in hiding for centuries, which only adds to the fun of it all. Of course, V Club seems a lot more sinister than the underground clubs I’ve heard of (but then again, I wouldn’t really know because I’m not privy to their societies and all they do), and it was awesome watching Taylor attempt to infiltrate. Likewise, we eventually learn more about the Darkness and, in this case, it’s interest in the V Club, which filled me with trepidation as we get an up-close and personal view of what lies beyond—which then begs the question, if all the murderers are sucked into the Darkness, what, exactly, are all these evil murderers going to be used for in the future? Because… the Darkness is not hell, as one might assume. So, what is it? Five stars.
Angry Robot and Strange Chemistry have been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this awesome novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release on August 6, 2013.