Monday, August 4, 2014

Review: Mortal Danger by Ann Aguirre

Release date: August 5, 2014
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Pages: 372
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher provided for review
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
Revenge is a dish best served cold.

In Ann Aguirre's Mortal Danger, Edie Kramer has a score to settle with the beautiful people at Blackbriar Academy. Their cruelty drove her to the brink of despair, and four months ago, she couldn’t imagine being strong enough to face her senior year. But thanks to a Faustian compact with the enigmatic Kian, she has the power to make the bullies pay. She’s not supposed to think about Kian once the deal is done, but devastating pain burns behind his unearthly beauty, and he’s impossible to forget. 

In one short summer, her entire life changes and she sweeps through Blackbriar, prepped to take the beautiful people down from the inside. A whisper here, a look there, and suddenly . . . bad things are happening. It’s a head rush, seeing her tormentors get what they deserve, but things that seem too good to be true usually are, and soon, the pranks and payback turns from delicious to deadly. Edie is alone in a world teeming with secrets and fiends lurking in the shadows. In this murky morass of devil’s bargains, she isn’t sure who—or what—she can trust. Not even her own mind.
Mortal Danger's synopsis is misleading, I think. Edie is on the brink (literally, on the edge of the bridge) of killing herself when a mysterious handsome stranger, Kian, steps in with a bargain. He will give her three favors, anything she'd like, in order to make her happier, and in exchange, she will give the people he works for three favors later. Edie has been mercilessly tormented by the "Teflon crew" all throughout school because she was different and not pretty. She thinks revenge on them will make her happy, so she first wishes to be beautiful. But once Evie is indebted to this faceless corporation, bad things start happening, and she finds out the people she has made a deal with are far more formidable and dangerous than she could have imagined. She's now stuck in a battle for control between powers we thought were only the stuff of stories.

This story is largely not about revenge. Edie is seeking revenge when she makes her first request and it's the seed as to why she accepts Kian's offer, but before long, Edie begins to realize revenge won't give her the happiness she wants. I do find it problematic that she's able to shirk a lifetime of problems rather too quickly, but I also don't think Mortal Danger endorses the idea that being beautiful makes you happier, even though it might feel like it at times. Edie thinks time and time again about how she dislikes how people treat her and how she misses who she was before. Kian expresses the same ideas. Looking good may have offered them temporary relief, but it can't change everything.

So if we're not talking about revenge all the way through, what exactly is happening in Mortal Danger? Well, turns out Edie's future is pretty important, and how her life plays out either makes her future "optimum" or she loses her potential and is useless to those who she is now indebted to. The warring factions, in the guise of corporations, are tugging her in either direction, and she, while important, is still a pawn in the game between the two. This is a fight that's gone on longer than anyone could imagine, and the roots of those in charge are simply fascinating. It's easily what I loved most about the book. I'll say it has roots in mythology and all those scary stories like Bloody Mary, but there's more to it.

And Mortal Danger is bloody--in the best way possible. Ann Aguirre is not pulling punches and is not afraid to pile up those bodies. There are eerie scenes, like something out of a nightmare or horror story, and deaths around every corner. At times, it reads like a horror, but you're still given really nice moments between Edie and her parents, Kian, and the friends she makes over the course of the book. It's never overwhelmingly scary or dark, but just enough to give you chills.

While Mortal Danger isn't a perfect novel, and I know there are and will be people who don't like it, I still enjoyed reading it. It's dark and creepy and full of shadows, but Edie is ultimately on a journey of empowerment. The setup for this world is utterly fascinating, and it's bound to only get more interesting as the series goes on. I know I, for one, can't wait to read the second installment.

About the author:

Ann Aguirre is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author with a degree in English Literature; before she began writing full time, she was a clown, a clerk, a voice actress, and a savior of stray kittens, not necessarily in that order. She grew up in a yellow house across from a cornfield, but now she lives in sunny Mexico with her husband, children, and various pets. She likes books, emo music, and action movies. She writes all kinds of genre fiction for adults and teens.

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