Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Through Violet Eyes by Stephen Woodworth — 368 pgs

In this story of an alternate universe much like our own, society comes in two forms: the regular population and the Violets. It’s not only the Violet's uniquely colored eyes that set them apart, but their ability to contact the deceased through the intense power of their minds. They are groomed and educated away from the rest of society and do not mix well with the general population. But there are times when they become very useful, for the testimony of a Violet in a murder investigation or trial is irrefutable and damning, to say the least. Into this world comes the strange union between Dan Atwater, an FBI agent, and Natalie Lindstrom, a particularly reclusive Violet. When Atwater discovers that someone is brutally murdering the Violets, the government who finds them so indispensable wants answers and attaches him to Natalie to solve these puzzling crimes. Though Natalie at first objects, she finds that a stronger part of herself wants justice for the murders of her friends and agrees to work with Atwater. As the two creep closer and closer to the truth, they uncover some very strange similarities among the murders, and also find a new but cautious respect for one another. But soon the situation gets out of hand, and Natalie and agent Atwater are forced to investigate the people they are trying to protect. In this gripping and original thriller, Woodworth melds the aspects of a unique dystopia, where the hunters become the hunted.

I don't really read many of these types of books. For some reason, thrillers just don't excite me, and a lot of the time, I can see right through them. When my previous book club decided on something just a little bit creepy, I thought this might be a book worth taking a look at. It is a thriller, but it doesn't fall into the category of a procedural, and it also has some paranormal elements to it. Keeping the paranormal elements in mind, I found that I was pleasantly surprised by this book and might actually seek out more in this series.

First off, I found the Violets to be a really clever creation by Woodworth. They are not mentally like other humans, and because of the work they do, they must be physically altered as well. Most of them are shaved bald and tattooed in order to have better access to pressure points on their heads that are fit with electrodes while they are at work, and all of them have the most hypnotizing violet eyes. They are a pretty anti-social group, but really, you can't blame them for that, as the government seeks them out at birth and basically controls their education, family lives and careers. There is a lot of vague threatening on the government's behalf when it comes to the Violets. There’s no doubt that the the government considers them a form of property—an advanced set of bloodhounds, if you will. All of this makes the Violets pretty bitter people, and even when they are forced to do their jobs, they are mostly petulant and sarcastic.

The ball really gets rolling fast with this story, and the first scene is one of horror, as a young Violet girl is brutally murdered. When it comes to tracking this killer down, things get sketchy. First off, there is no evidence to collect, and when Natalie makes a connection with the murdered girl, the investigators find that the girl didn't actually see her killer. This is a problem, as a first hand account cannot be obtained. After more investigation, Atwater and Natalie realize that more than half the population of Violets have been murdered in a similar fashion, and information is scant.

One of the most interesting aspects of the Violets and their talents is the view of the afterlife that is presented to them. It seems that once your body dies, your soul goes into a black and undefined space that lacks any exit. The soul is confined there, fruitlessly trying to find release, and can only be delivered from the darkness once the Violet has made contact and has let the dead speak through them. I found this to be pretty bleak, as this seemed to be the most common fate of the people in this world. Woodworth does make mention of the fact that some souls find a way to pass on, but the majority of them are trapped. This causes problems for the Violets because they are the only ones who really know what happens after death, and creates a fear of their impending imprisonment and darkness in the void of their afterlife.

Though I saw the love story in this book coming a mile off, I still ended up enjoying aspects of it. Mainly that was because Atwater and Natalie seemed so different and it wasn't until much later on that their personalities became complimentary. I was actually surprised at how much I liked them as a couple and was a little disappointed by the direction that the story took in the later sections of the book. Natalie was really no-nonsense and Atwater pestered and cajoled her out of her ill humor most of the time, but it wasn't until later that I saw the sparks between them that could lead to something more. It was a restrained love affair, that's for sure, but one that I felt was well deserved. There wasn't a lot of sex in this story, which made it seem a little more genuine to me, and as the two lovers came together, there was a sense of shared bonding in horrific circumstances.

Though I wasn't really happy with the ending of this book, I did find the majority of it pretty interesting. There was a great sense of urgency to the plot, and aside from the flimsy dialogue and the plain writing, I ended up enjoying it a lot more than I had expected to. There were some great twists in the story that propelled things very nicely, and what the book lost in artfulness, it gained in creativity. If you are looking for a paranormal thriller that doesn't involve vampires, werewolves or fairies, this might make a good read for you!

14 comments:

Harvee Lau said...

I'm not much for most sci fi or dystopia but I agree the violet eyes is a clever device to use.

Jennifer @ Mrs Q Book Addict said...

I'm not a fan of thrillers but I do enjoy dystopia. I would like to try more adult dystopia's.

nomadreader said...

The tension between creativity and artfulness is a hard one for me. Sometimes I can overlook writing for a compelling or creative plot, but other times I can't lose myself in the story enough. Either way, I'm glad you enjoyed reading something out of your comfort zone!

Suko said...

You write so well! I enjoyed reading about this book, and think I'd also enjoy many things about the book. I don't read much in this genre either--paranormal thrillers--but it does sound intriguing in many ways.

Ti said...

I like books like this once in awhile. Rhapsody Jill and I are called the Doomsday Twins by TLC Book Tours because we enjoy the three D's (dystopias, death and destruction). LOL!

And although the ending didn't do it for you, your review is a nice balance of positives and negatives.

bermudaonion said...

I do like a good thriller, but the paranormal aspect is probably not for me. My sister might like this one, though.

Jenny said...

Hm, this does sound pretty good. I bet that view of death is difficult for some people to read about and even imagine because that is a topic difficult for people to think about/deal with already (at least for me!)

Brooke said...

I've never heard of this book before, but it intrigues me. I enjoy these types of books every so often as brain candy and filler between my normal fare. Glad you took a chance on something a bit different for you! Great review.

Beth F said...

Hum. I like thrillers and paranormal, but I'm not quite sure this one would be for me.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Yes, what Ti said, LOL! this sounds good (except for the way it ends?)

Holly (2 Kids and Tired) said...

Thrillers aren't my thing but I'd look into this one simply because of your review.
2 Kids and Tired Books

Literary Feline said...

I've had this book on my TBR shelf forever. I'm not sure why I haven't read it yet. You make me want to pick it up and read it right now. Maybe when I get home, anyway. :-) Thanks for the great review, Heather!

jennysbooks said...

Oh interesting! I like it a lot when dystopian fiction posits as "other" something that's not set up that way in our society -- like an eye color, in this case (although of course it's different because they can also talk to the dead). It's just a neat reminder of how difference is socially constructed.

Aarti said...

Oh, what an interesting way to use violet eyes! Whenever I think of those, I think immediately of The Witches, by Roald Dahl!

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