Title: Becoming Darkness
Author: Lindsay Francis Brambles
Release Date: October 1st, 2015
Publisher: Switch Press
“Like everyone else living in Haven, seventeen-year-old Sophie Harkness is an Immune--a carrier of the genetic mutation that protects her from the virus Hitler unleashed upon the world more than half a century ago. A virus that wiped out most of humanity and turned two-hundred million people into vamps. But after her best friend is brutally murdered and several attempts are made on her own life, Sophie becomes determined to find answers to what seems to be a conspiracy running generations deep. And when she questions the peace treaty that keeps her small community protected, Sophie begins to discover terrible truths about herself and what it means to be human in a world ruled by darkness.
Lindsay Brambles' debut young adult novel is a story of an alternate universe: Hitler won the war, our modern technologies never evolved, and the Nazis' terrifying reign still continues. This fast-paced novel will appeal to readers who guzzle up genre mashups and are looking for a fresh hybrid to sweep them away.”
*Received a copy for an honest review.*
When I received this book from SwitchPress, I was super excited to read it. Hilter was a vampire? Hitler won WW2? Alternate present? It all sounded super fun.
Becoming Darkness started off interesting enough. Sophie and her friend Camille were at Camille's vacation home having fun after their mandatory summer work program. She started telling her friend about the first time she met her vampire. From there the story continued along the lines of "current events" then "flashback." Some pretty big things happened early on, and Sophie was chucked down the rabbit hole of conspiracies. There was so much we needed to solve.
Sophie was one of those characters that I really loved at times, and threatened to kick the rest.
All she really wanted out of life was to enjoy those little stolen moments with her vampire. The things she valued in life -her love, her friend, her family- really were priceless things that people should value. She knew hardship, yet she didn't let her connection to wealth through others turn into blatant jealousy like so many YA heroines end up doing.
Sophie was curious-contagious.
If you hinted at something vague and mysterious or tossed a book into her path she wanted the answers even though she didn't fully understand the questions. It placed her in a very dangerous position over and over. I may have egged her on several times because I myself needed answers, even if I figured out several key elements chapters before she even thought to consider them.
But her curiosity was also a major downfall to her character. With the words "brutally murdered" and "terrible truths" you just know her curiosity was going to get her into trouble.
I really, really wanted to love the romance in this book. But I just couldn't bring myself to like it.
I didn't hate it, it just wasn't something I understood or connected with. And something quite spoilerish that we learn about the hero's past, quite honestly bothered me more than I think it should.
There was a very vampire mojo insta-attraction thing going on the first time Sophie and Val meet. Considering she was fourteen (few years younger than present day time) and he was turned back in WW2 (even if he was only physically 18ish) I'm not sure this romance started off on the right foot for me.
When we first meet Sophie she has already met and fallen in love with him, and assuming he with her, but I don't think we really ever got to see evidence of their falling in love over the years. Most of their flashback involved plot furthering info and action, and him lying by omission to keep her in the dark to "keep her safe." (Granted her father lied to her, the grandmother hid the truth as well, and everyone knows politicians are shady. No one was big on the concept of truth in this book.)
The wordbuilding and story weaving was where Becoming Darkness really excelled.
If you skipped a chapter here and there you might miss something crucial to the overall plot because so many things you think are evidence of one thing are really layers deep in complexity.
The book was divided up into two parts: part one in the human's Haven, and part two in rest of the vampire's world. And make no mistake, it was the vampire's world. Part one had a noire sort of vibe going on with all the talk of murders, and near misses that happened. Part two took all that was set up and hinted at and tossed tripled the stakes. I really loved part two.
Words To Live By
"It is said that peace seldom comes without a price. Perhaps we sacrificed more than we should have in order to maintain it. Perhaps on the day when the war ended and the truce was struck, all of humanity was lost. Perhaps, on that day, it wasn't only the vampires that were no longer human." (ARC pg 3/485)
"Once you've opened the bottle and let the genie out, it's next to impossible to put it back in." (ARC pg 28/485)
"We were nothing more than different sides of the same coin." (ARC pg 377/485)
Overall I enjoyed Becoming Darkness. The story was interesting and complex, which made it fun to dissect. I do think my disassociation with the romance hindered my enjoyment of parts of this novel a little, especially the first part since I'd rate part two closer to four stars.