At this point I’m already late to the party, but I had to do this sooner or later. Back in January I received RoseBlood from Owlcrate, and while I loved the cover art I could tell that there were going to be tears. I’m a firm believer in trying new things, and if something’s bearable then I’ll see it through to the end.
Before We Begin
At the end of the day A.G. Howard is still the one who wrote a book, which got published, and is selling, so I have nothing but respect for her in that regard. This review is not about A.G. Howard.
This review is about RoseBlood, and RoseBlood is not a good book!
Before I continue I’d like to state that I’m one of those people who can appreciate the good and the bad, and I will admit that even a bad book can do something well, even if unintentional. For instance, this quote is RIPE with angst.
At home, I have a poster on my wall of a rose that’s bleeding. It’s petals are white, and red liquid oozes from its heart, thick and glistening warm. Only, if you look very close, you can see the droplets are coming from above, where a little girl’s wrist–camouflaged by a cluster of leaves–has been pricked by it’s thorns as she reached inside to catch a monarch.
Oooooh! Delicious angst!
When I was nineteen I had outgrown the whole angst thing, but I suppose that a sixteen year old me would have eaten this up …
Nope, I’m really an Angst Vampire! Mmmmmmm!
Four Things That Were Good
I wanted to like this book as a whole. Because sanity is of great value to me I had to put the book down more than once. These breaks gave me time to think …
I made myself think of the positives.
It’s safe to say that a lot of people loved the cover design, and I’m not exempt. Whenever I stopped reading the book, I would gaze at the cover. The amount of detail in the image of Rune still makes me question whether it’s an illustration or a photograph. The book is also gorgeous on the inside, printed in red ink. Colourful ink isn’t new–think The Neverending Story–but I liked that detail.
Because the ink was a lighter colour of red I found it hard to read RoseBlood in bad lighting conditions. To me bad lighting consists of incandescent light bulbs, just to set the record straight.
I loved the way things were described in this book, even if some of the scenes were ridiculous. I also think that the dark atmosphere was appropriate for the story.
The 3rd Person Perspective:
RoseBlood is written in two perspectives.
The story as told by our main protagonist, Rune Germaine, is written in 1st person. We have another main character in the book, however, and his parts are always written in the 3rd person. Using the 3rd person perspective as a way to show the otherness of this character was a good idea, but I also ended up liking this character better even if he was creepy.
The Cat, and Sunny:
There is a cantankerous cat called Diable in this book. Diable, who should just be crowned the king of all cats, can pick locks with his claws. Nothing new here, I know, but the cat was one of the better characters in the story. Then there’s Sunny, the first person to befriend our bland protagonist. Sunny talks like a hillbilly, but she’s also a stealthy kleptomaniac who plays the cello like nobody’s business, who’s also a genius.
“Look, I may be a country girl,” she continues, “but I can play a cello like I was born in the orchestra pit of the London Symphony. Ma says I have the mind of a progeny, and the tongue of a heck-o-billy. My uncle’s a oil tycoon. He made sure I was taught proper grammar before he’d pay for my tuition, but sometimes I slip off the wagon a smidge.”
Beyond Sunny and Diable the other characters weren’t really developed in any meaningful ways; I found that most of the developments were shallow and they were there only to advance the plot.
And it’s PRODIGY, not progeny!
All of the Ugly
It’s sad when the most important elements of your story–like plot, setting, and main protagonist–are bad. Atrocious is another word I would use to describe it.
Beastly, fiendish, and ghastly are also other words that I could, but to be either one of the three RoseBlood would have to first be good.
The Plot and the Setting:
On the front cover this book is called a retelling, but it’s actually fan fiction. I know this because I used to write fan fiction as a teenager. The idea reminded me of Love Never Dies, just with some minor changes and several psychic vampires thrown in for fun.
Psychic vampires? Yes, I constructed a sentence with the words psychic and vampire in it! But you know, RoseBlood did it first!
Did you know that the Phantom also owns a rave in this book? When I reached that part I was at a laundromat so chucking the book across the room was out of the question. Decorum and such … Appearances must be maintained, etcetera. My boyfriend was with me at the time, so I was at least able to rant about this so-called rave.
Do you know what I told him? I said: “Boyfriend, they literally just did the Monster Mash.” Except, the Monster Mash is supposed to be cheesy–and, well– FUN. I read in a Goodreads review that this is the Troll 2 of YA. I agree with that assertion 200%. The story is all over the place and it takes itself way too seriously.
Hey, I was supposed to talk about that thing called a plot, wasn’t I? Well, the conflicts are contrived, as are the resolutions to said conflicts. Not much has stuck with me since I read the book in January. It really is that forgettable.
RoseBlood is essentially filler with a bit of plot thrown in.
Don’t even get me started on predictability …
RoseBlood, a music academy in France, seems to exist solely for rich English speaking students. The school also has no wifi, cell phone reception, or computers. Sure! Nearby there is a run down garden, an old cemetery, but not much else. Somewhere along the way you find out that there’s a secret sanctuary that is literally beneath a river, and that’s stupid.
Normally you find underwater sanctuaries in sci-fi. Hate me all you want, but The Phantom Menace did this better, by leaps and bounds. I obviously know nothing though, because the editors thought that this was okay.
There isn’t much for me to say. Starting at chapter 1 I found the setting unrealistic …
In Harry Potter I was okay with there being a hidden wizarding world. You may ask why, and the answer is simple: they didn’t just dump it all on the reader’s lap. The author, and also the editors, knew that that was a bad move for the story. When they say show, don’t tell, they mean it. Before we knew the whole story there was character development, hell there was even adventure.
Think of it this way: in Harry Potter they gave us an appetizer, and then a couple of drinks, followed by the main course, and then dessert.
In RoseBlood I was buried in a steaming pile of NOPE.
I am not lying when I say this: Rune Germaine is a special snowflake and she has all the gifts. Did I hate her all the time? No, but that means nothing. When I found out that her name was Rune I immediately knew the symbolism behind it. There was nothing profound, and because Rune was such a bland character it was dumb.
No Rune, you are not a gift from the gods! Now, stop fantasizing about the creepy dude who watches you from the vents!
Her greatest talent is also her greatest curse.
It says this on the back.
At least half of RoseBlood is told from Rune’s POV, and her POV is written in the 1st person. No surprise there. Also: too bad for me. When done well 1st person doesn’t even register as 1st person because the characters and their motivations are interesting, gripping, making me care about them. Needless to say I found Rune unbearable. In my spare time I counted chapters, trying to reassure myself that the book did indeed have an ending.
And like the book I really want this review to be over!
The Grand Conclusion
In retrospect I am left to wonder: was this supposed to be a script for Monty Python’s Flying Circus? If not, then can it be?
Was this book awful? Yes, absolutely. It seems that I am part of the small minority who kept their hand at the level of their eyes, though. RoseBlood has a 3.41 rating on Goodreads.
Honestly I gave this book 2 stars. It’s not the worst thing around, and you can tell that A.G. Howard knows how to write, this book just didn’t do anything to showcase her talent. If she decides to write a book in 3rd person perspective I will read the heck out of it.
At best, this is a guilty pleasure read.
Things To Explore Before You Go
None of this is research. These are things that I enjoyed, so I thought I’d share them. At least watch the Loose Cannon episodes. You won’t regret it!