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A Reader of Fictions: Hell - Squirrel Nut Zippers

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Hell - Squirrel Nut Zippers


Author: Daniel Marks
Pages: 447
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication Date: October 9, 2012
Source: Won from A Good Addiction

Description from Goodreads:
Velveteen Monroe is dead. At 16, she was kidnapped and murdered by a madman named Bonesaw. But that’s not the problem.

The problem is she landed in purgatory. And while it’s not a fiery inferno, it’s certainly no heaven. It’s gray, ashen, and crumbling more and more by the day, and everyone has a job to do. Which doesn’t leave Velveteen much time to do anything about what’s really on her mind.


Velveteen aches to deliver the bloody punishment her killer deserves. And she’s figured out just how to do it. She’ll haunt him for the rest of his days.

It’ll be brutal... and awesome.

But crossing the divide between the living and the dead has devastating consequences. Velveteen’s obsessive haunting cracks the foundations of purgatory and jeopardizes her very soul. A risk she’s willing to take—except fate has just given her reason to stick around: an unreasonably hot and completely off-limits coworker.

Velveteen can’t help herself when it comes to breaking rules... or getting revenge. And she just might be angry enough to take everyone down with her.

First Sentence: "When Velveteen Monroe pictured Bonesaw's house—and she did, more often that could be considered healthy—blood striped the paint a muddy reddish-brown, internal organs floated in jars of formaldehyde, and great big taxidermy crows leered from branches that twisted from the wall like palsied arms."

Velveteen is another novel with a whole lot of hype surrounding its release. The premise sounds so insane and creepy that this should come as no surprise. A dystopia about the dead? Serial killers? Purgatory? Strong heroine? That's all kinds of awesome, right? Well, I definitely think so.

My first recommendation is not to come into Velveteen looking for a dystopia. There really isn't anything particularly dystopian here, although I do see some definite possibility for there to be a big reveal of evil government at work later in the series. This could have been a huge disappointment, because obviously I love dystopias, but the whole of the story was so delightfully fresh and funny that I wasn't particularly bothered.

On Twitter, I've seen people tweeting Daniel Marks as they read through this book. They commented how grossed out they were and how horrified. Well, I really didn't have any moments where I was overwhelmed by the ick or horror factors. Maybe I just have a strong stomach, but I doubt it, since I can't watch a horror movie without hiding through pretty much all of it. There are gross things that happen, but they're no worse than what I've encountered in all the zombie novels I've read. So, basically, if you don't often read macabre things, Velveteen might freak you out, but, otherwise, I wouldn't worry unduly.

Actually, more than anything else, I thought Velveteen was hilarious. Humor of course is very subjective. I suspect most readers will either love or hate Velveteen, depending on whether you think Daniel Marks' humor is funny or obnoxious. For me, it totally worked. If you're concerned, you might want to watch some of Marks' vlogs and see if you like his style.

The description of the novel makes a big deal about Velvet's desire for revenge against her murderer, Bonesaw. While this certainly is a plot point, it's actually a fairly minor plot arc, important to the story, but definitely not the focus of Marks' grisly tale. Still, he definitely wove this arc perfectly into the larger tale.

The focus of the novel is, instead, on the tensions within Purgatory. There is a revolution happening in Purgatory. The Departurists believe that the powers that be within Purgatory are preventing them from moving on and unfairly keeping them from the daylight (aka the world of the living). The revolutionaries are somehow causing bigger and bigger cracks to form in Purgatory, by trapping souls in daylight and causing shadowquakes. The world building on this Purgatory was crazy cool for sure.

Within Purgatory, there are jobs, ranging just as widely, although differently, from those in our world. Our heroine, Velvet, has one of the best jobs, as a salvager team leader. Scavengers enter daylight to save trapped souls, putting an end to shadowquakes and protecting Purgatory. This gives them a rare chance to travel to daylight and is also just really cool, since you need special abilities to do it. Teams consist of four: one body thief, who takes over the body of a living human temporarily, one undertaker, who takes over a dead body and becomes a zombie, and two poltergeists, who stay ghosty but have a natural power to move things in that form. Velvet and her team are the best and they love what they do. On one of their missions, they rescue Nick, aka love interest.

Now, we must talk about Velveteen. She is an amazing heroine, assuming you like them sarcastic, closed-off, and a bit violent. Thankfully, I do. If you're sick of all of the wimpy, clutsy, obedient heroines that can't do anything but moan about boys, you will love Velvet, as she is the antithesis of all things Bella. Similar heroines are Lex from Croak or Ashline from Wildefire. Velvet has a smart mouth and is quick to resort to physical violence. Just to give you an idea of the kind of girl we'll dealing with: she dressed up as Alex from A Clockwork Orange at one point. She felt real to me, and she read like a female.

Her romance with Nick also totally worked. There was definitely instalust, but Velvet is not the kind of girl to mistake that for love. She initially thinks he looks like and probably is an asshole. There's lots of kissing, because she's not the kind of girl who is against having a little fun. Though Nick and Velvet's relationship does progress fairly quickly emotionally, there's a natural flow to it. The two really do have a rapport. They have real conversations, develop little inside jokes, and have awesome witty banter. Their chemistry is fantastic.

So yeah, I thought this was a fantastic ride, entertaining and funny from beginning to end. I definitely anticipate Marks' next macabre tale!

Favorite Quote:
"'So, you're ready then, Quentin?' Velvet asked, gearing up. 'Sigmund Freud here has cured your panic attacks in one session.'
   'Aw. Come on.,' Nick wrapped his arm around Quentin's shoulder as they walked. 'Fear of rejection is the killer of many romantic teen scenarios. It's the scourge of adolescence. All I told him is to embrace the possibility that Shandie won't like him and go for it anyway. She is, after all, pretty hot.'
   'Yeah.' Quentin beamed. 'What's the worst that could happen?'
   She could tell you to eat shit and die, Velvet thought, but kept her mouth shut.
   But it was Nick who said, right after, 'She could tell him to eat shit and die, right? Words. Just words. That kind of stuff never lasts. People are fickle; they may laugh at you and stuff, but they always move on to the next tragedy as soon as it happens. In the end, it's more about Quentin than it is the girl. It's about courage. The act of talking to her. Exposing himself.'
   Logan busted up laughing.
   Nick rolled his eyes and crammed his hands into his back pockets. 'Not that way I mean, being vulnerable with her. That's what's gonna make you a man. It's going to kill that fear and bury it as deep as the bodies he thieves are kept.'"
"In the afterlife
You could be headed for the serious strife
Now you make the scene all day
But tomorrow there'll be hell to pay

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Blogger Lilian said...

I didn't think it would be funny since the cover looks SO DARK.

And since I follow Daniel Mark's vlogs I find it an obligation to read this one.

Shoot, I can't think of anything else to say since I didn't read past the first two paragraphs. You'll just have to forgive me. *dances off to the sunset*

August 15, 2012 at 4:24 PM  
Blogger Wee Shubba said...

Amazing review. Can't wait to read this one!

August 15, 2012 at 4:40 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Well, I think most people will either be really amused, really creeped out or really offended. Haha. I don't see many people having a meh response to Velveteen. I thought it was hilarious, but then again I love dark, sarcastic, inappropriate humor.

That's okay, dude!

August 15, 2012 at 4:46 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Thanks! It's SO good!

August 15, 2012 at 4:46 PM  
Blogger Lilian said...

"I love dark, sarcastic, inappropriate humor."
Reminds me of the jokes in Dan Well's I'm Not a Serial Killer. He loves joking about dead bodies since he works in the morgue. *feels apologetic for spoiling it now*

"That's okay, dude!"
I see that image of me being a disgusting, hairy, overweight white dude is getting into you. Can you just imagine be as Tom Cruise or something?

August 15, 2012 at 5:04 PM  
Blogger Nori said...

This sounds so awesome! Why have I not read this yet?

August 15, 2012 at 10:57 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

No, I don't think I needed to read I Am Not a Serial Killer. Besides, if I change my mind, I will have completely forgotten the ending by the time I get to it.

Maybe I'll imagine you as a cauliflower.

August 16, 2012 at 4:12 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

I don't know, man! Did you get it from NG?

August 16, 2012 at 4:12 PM  
Blogger Lilian said...

Okies, if you say so! *starts the next book* LEt's hope no weirdo demons pop out.

"Maybe I'll imagine you as a cauliflower."
WHUT? Like a guy dressed up as a cauliflower? O_O
I rather be a rubber duck.

August 16, 2012 at 5:38 PM  
Blogger aLilLacey said...

I love that her name is Velveteen. Beautiful! I don't love that that killers name is Bonesaw. Makes me want to gag just reading it. I have a friend who would love this type of book. Recommended over.

August 17, 2012 at 2:28 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

They must, right? Otherwise, why put a demon in it? The only way to justify that is to DO something with them now.


August 17, 2012 at 8:03 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Well, his name isn't actually Bonesaw. His real name is something boring. That's just Velvet's special little pet name for him.

I hope your friend enjoys it as much as I did!

August 17, 2012 at 8:04 AM  
Blogger Lilian said...

DON'T SHRUG. Say you'll imagine me as Tom Cruise..or a rubber duck. I DON'T WANNA BE A BORING OLD CAULIFLOWER.

August 18, 2012 at 8:55 AM  
Blogger Christina said...


August 20, 2012 at 7:57 AM  
Blogger M.A.D. said...

God, I love your post title *Nut zippers* lol

Anyhoo, not sure if this one might be a bit too *gruesome/bloody* for my taste, Bonesaw - brrrr O>O

Mary DeBorde M.A.D.

August 22, 2012 at 3:21 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Maybe check out some other reviews? I didn't find it especially gruesome, but I read a fair amount of zombie books and the like, so my tolerance is pretty high (in book form...when it comes to movies, I am such a wimp).

August 23, 2012 at 8:45 AM  

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