Monday, October 24, 2016

A Darkly Beating Heart by Lindsay Smith

Standalone
272 p.
Publisher: Roaring Book Press
Published: 10/25/16
Source: NetGalley and publisher for review
A time-travel story that alternates between modern day and 19th century Japan as one girl confronts the darkness lurking in her soul. 
No one knows what to do with Reiko. She is full of hatred. All she can think about is how to best hurt herself and the people closest to her. After a failed suicide attempt, Reiko’s parents send her from their Seattle home to spend the summer with family in Japan to learn to control her emotions. But while visiting Kuramagi, a historic village preserved to reflect the nineteenth-century Edo period, Reiko finds herself slipping back in time into the life of Miyu, a young woman even more bent on revenge than Reiko herself. Reiko loves being Miyu, until she discovers the secret of Kuramagi village, and must face down Miyu’s demons as well as her own.
My thoughts:

This one sounded perfect for the season. And it is also from a prospective we rarely get in YA. This one travels from contemporary Japan and 19th c. Japan. This also has the bisexual aspect that factors in a big way here as it becomes Reiko, our main character, primary reason and justification in what she does in the story. I think the cultural aspects and also the bisexual aspect of the story were handled well and with some sensitivity.

As much as I loved the setting and background of our main character, I didn't really like her until the end. Granted you really weren't supposed to but instead of feeling her rage, she felt like a spoiled brat that railed against perceived wrongs done to her. I don't know if she was really justified in her feelings since I couldn't get beyond her idea of vengeance.

The story does involve a spirit trying to take over Reiko in the present trying to wreck havoc on all those surrounding her. She also travels back into this spirit's time period and finds someone not unlike her who ends up trying to relive her bloody vengeance. At one point neither Reiko or the reader knows where one ends and the other begins and this is where she is forced to either complete the spirit's mission or find it within herself to find herself and who she wants to be in life. What I found frustrating with this part is that she knew it was history, talked about going to find out what happened and then never followed through. I so wanted to shake her at times and couldn't wait for her to wise up and figure things out like you already knew she... well... knew!

The ending was a bit too easy and a bit quick for the buildup but it was complete. She even looked at her other relationships and figured out where she fit in the most important ones. We also finally find out what she really did in her relationship that started her on this path.

I give this book 3 stars. I like the worldbuilding and the aspects of the characters. While I had problems with Reiko's character, she did grow and I did like that aspect. Things were too easily wrapped up but were complete. I think this ends up evening out the book and is a good book for the October season.

41 comments:

  1. It's always difficult when you have a problem with the main character but that's true that it looks different as well so it's interesting

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I liked it because it was different and you may have a better reaction to it than I did. I loved the cultural POV.

      Delete
  2. Hmm, I like unlikeable heroines, but not when they're brats. I also hate when an ending just doesn't deliver, so maybe I'll skip this one after all. Thanks for such an honest and helpful review, Melissa!

    ReplyDelete
  3. This sounds like it actually had a lot going or it if it weren't for the pesky heroine bringing down. :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, I think I just didn't quite buy the amount of anger she had, but I did buy it somewhat. :)

      Delete
  4. Wonderful honest review for this!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hmm..not sure if this is for me, but thanks for the honest review!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I think I would want more books set in Japan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I liked the setting and it lent itself to different mythology than we are used to getting.

      Delete
  7. Thanks for the honest break down. I am going to pass on this one.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I love the ancient Japanese culture more so than the modern one. I've always been curious about this book after seeing the cover for the first time but I never expected where it derived from, though.

    Glad you enjoyed some of its elements.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ...and the paranormal mythology mixed in the ancient culture. :) I did enjoy the worldbuilding!

      Delete
  9. Love the premise, bummer the ending wrapped up too quickly and the character was hard to connect with. Great review Melissa!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Eh... you may have a different experience. It was an interesting take.

      Delete
  10. I have this and now I'm wondering if I should even bother... I'll give it the 10% test, not the 40%. That's fair, right?? :) Thanks for the heads up!!!!! I need a protagonist I can mostly understand...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You never know... you might find it much better suited to you.

      Delete
  11. Hmmm...doesn't really call to me but I do like the unique cultural aspect...I think I'd like that part!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Love the sound of this and the setting is one we don't see too often. I'm a fan of imperfect protagonist but need some growth. I may borror this one sometime.
    Lovely review, Melissa. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree. There is growth but it all seems to come at once.

      Delete
  13. Hmm, No I don't think this is one for me. I read another strange Japanese story with a spirit from another time and this just sounds too much like that one. One of those that while you liked it, you really don't want to read another. Does that make sense? Sorry it wasn't a better read for you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hm... I'm curious about what you read now. LOL I do get what you mean tho.. :)

      Delete
  14. It's always so frustrating to have a difficult main character. Great review!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just felt a bit overwhelmed by her anger I think.

      Delete
  15. Unfortunate, but honestly kind of expected it based on the summary. It seemed a little to...mopey isn't the right word...but I can't think of the appropriate adjective.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Whiney vengeful? LOL Actually she does grow in the end so it wasn't as bothersome as it seems. I did feel a bit overwhelmed by her anger though.

      Delete
  16. Hmm, it's too bad the connection with Reiko didn't really work since the time travel and bisexual elements were handled well. It's always difficult to get immersed in a story when you don't really like the MC.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do think that it was because she was so consumed in anger and hate. I did like her enough but also had enough of a barrier to prevent me from connecting.

      Delete
  17. This one sounds kind of, meh. I'm not really sure about this one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You may enjoy it more than I did. I did find the setting interesting.

      Delete
  18. It is never fun when a book wraps up too easily. It can really ruin the story. I would have a hard time with this story if I didn't like the main character. As a character driven reader, I need to like the characters. I love that cover though. It is awesome. Great review.

    Melanie @ Hot Listens & Rabid Reads

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I liked her in the end, but she was just too angry in the beginning for a connection for me anyway. :)

      Delete
  19. Sounds like a lot is going on with this story, the spirit trying to possess her and all. Good to see you liked the MC in the end!

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for commenting! I ❤ comments!