Genre: YA Paranormal
Pub Date: April 2013, Entangled Teen
Format: Paperback, 352 pages
Source: Purchased from Amazon.com
Dante Walker is flippin’ awesome, and he knows it. His good looks, killer charm, and stellar confidence have made him one of hell’s best—a soul collector. His job is simple: weed through humanity and label those round rears with a big red good or bad stamp. Old Saint Nick gets the good guys, and he gets the fun ones. Bag-and-tag.
Sealing souls is nothing personal. Dante’s an equal-opportunity collector and doesn't want it any other way. But he’ll have to adjust, because Boss Man has given him a new assignment:
Collect Charlie Cooper’s soul within ten days.
Dante doesn't know why Boss Man wants Charlie, nor does he care. This assignment means only one thing to him, and that’s a permanent ticket out of hell. But after Dante meets the quirky Nerd Alert chick he’s come to collect, he realizes this assignment will test his abilities as a collector…and uncover emotions deeply buried.
I'm a huge fan of YA paranormal and urban fantasy, but I will say that The Collector is not like most of the books I typically read in those genres. Yes, I could tell that just based on reading the synopsis. In the last few weeks, though, I had seen a few Teaser Tuesday posts with excerpts from Victoria Scott's debut and couldn't help but find myself drawn to the book after reading those little snippets. And after a grueling week of work with precious little time to read, this was exactly the kind of book I needed to get my reading mojo back on -- it was fun, it was quirky, and yes a bit dark at times, but it made me laugh and smile, too... In short, I loved it!
Usually I find myself turned off by YA books that feature dialogue laced with today's popular slang and typical teen quips. In this book, Dante is the primary "abuser" of said phraseology. And if I'm 100% honest, I will admit that it did annoy me, but I'm also fully aware that this book isn't necessarily being written with me in mind. ;-) Not that any of that really mattered in the end because what really mattered is the story is just fantastic! A few chapters in, I wasn't totally sure what to make of the book but all I knew was that I couldn't put it down. In fact, I read the entire book in one sitting and refused to turn out the light to go to bed until I had read the last page.
I loved seeing Dante's transformation slowly unfold after he meets Charlie. He irritated the heck out of me in the beginning with his obnoxious arrogance and pretty terrible treatment of Charlie, but trust me, I think you'll find your opinion of him changes by the end of the book. Well, mine did, at any rate... Along with the paranormal storyline, Scott uses a creative approach to address teenage insecurities about appearance and beauty (or lack thereof) through Charlie, who is a bit of a dork, albeit an endearing one. Yes, Dante's behavior towards her is deplorable and I hated how he threw her flaws in her face and made her believe them herself, but he does eventually begin to redeem himself as the story goes on. I'm holding out hope that he improves his character even further in the next book. I can't say that I found Dante particularly swoon-worthy in this book, but maybe there is hope for him yet... :-)
As it was, I kept turning the pages, not only to see Charlie's friendship with Dante grow and change, but also to find out just how Dante's schemes to collect her soul panned out. I mean, how could anything good come of that?! There were a few twists and turns along the way, and what a climax! I suppose the ending was not completely surprising, but I am definitely glad this first book ended the way it did. It's a bit of a cliffhanger, but happily, the relationship piece of the puzzle is put into place before we are left hanging and waiting for The Liberator.
I have to confess I'm a little surprised by just how much I enjoyed The Collector. Other than the modern slang and language that didn't appeal to me, though, the writing is great. The story is fast-paced and witty, and Scott is able to paint a detailed picture so that I could see the entire book playing out almost like a movie in my head. For those reasons, and the fact that the book kept me up WAY past my bed time, there was no way I could give it less than five stars.
*I would like to note that this is Mature YA (language and adult situations), so please be aware of that going in.
Read this book...
~ If you like Stained by Ella James
~ If you like The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare
~ Modern YA paranormal romance/urban fantasy