Innocent Darkness Paperback – Aug 8 2012
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About the Author
Suzanne Lazear is the author of the Aether Chronicles series for young adult. In addition to writing for teens, Lazear gives presentations on the steampunk subgenre at conferences nationwide―resplendently attired in all the bustles and whistles. She is a regular contributor to the steampunk-themed blog, Steamed!, and is an active member of the Romance Writers of America (RWA) and the young adult debut author groups the Apocalypsies and the Class of 2k12. Lazear has her master's degree in public policy from Pepperdine University. She lives with her family in Los Angeles.
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Top Customer Reviews
As the plot progresses, I thought it was off to a good start. The reform school part really got me into the story and I thought it was going to get better. Then the faeries come in. I'm not much for faeries, they're my least favorite paranormal beings (so perhaps I'm biased when it comes to this). Then the book suddenly stops becoming steampunk and goes into the romance and fantasy phase. This is where my interest in the book started to drop. Noli's character started to becoming something that I wasn't expecting at all. She becomes all girly, needy, clingy, and all around irritating.
The romance aspect of the book was starting to irritate me as well and the plot just seemed to have taken a nosedive from there. V was interesting at first as well, but then when the romance starts to happen I was personally starting to get real sick of all three: Noli, Kevighn, and V. Then when James and Charlotte joined in the picture the story got unbearable and predictable.
This book just wasn't the one for me. Perhaps others will enjoy this one. It just stops becoming steampunk and then evolves into fantasy and romance. I was really hoping for a good novel featuring engines, gears and goggles. Not much so in this book. Sad to say I was very disappointed in this one.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This is the first in a chain of events that somehow lands her in a boarding school where things are dreary to say the least. Water rooms, cruel punishments, little food, and no contact with the outside world, Noli is desperate to get out and finally snaps when her only friend, Charlotte, is taken away. On Midsummer's Eve, she makes a wish that changed her life. This is where Noli is fully introduced to Kenign, the notorious hunter who has been searching for a girl with the "spark" for years to sacrifice to the Otherworld so that he and his people can live, if only for 7 more years.
But the magic won't take hold of her for some reason and meanwhile V is searching for her high and low for his best friend because he knows something is wrong. After all, V isn't who he seems either.
Innocent Darkness was more innocent than dark for sure, which I definitely enjoyed. I love my share of dark books, but something a less heavier was a relief. Not that it's completely light. But I loved the steampunk elements that were thrown in along with the faery aspects! It's incredibly contradicting actually, but I loved the way Suzanne Lazear wrote it!
Pacing. I actually loved the pacing in Innocent Darkness a lot! It was steady and never actually went up and down. Well, not unless you talk about the romance of course. I didn't like the romance, I'll admit. I think that Innocent Darkness would've been better if the feelings weren't so...expressed. Nothing ever told me why Kevign was in love with our MC. Sure she was independent and different, but so is every other girl with the spark, right? So why Noli? It just seemed to false and sudden. V, I sort of understood. They knew each other since they were kids so of course, Noli would trust him! Mainly, it was the love triangle that annoyed me, though not much admittedly.
Noli was definitely one of those stubborn, but smart, characters. Unlike a lot of characters, Noli didn't think or say anything stupid. She knew when enough was enough and was smart enough to keep her mouth shut when she needed to. And she didn't continue to believe stupid lies even when evidence was there, thank goodness! And even though Noli was an amazing character, I found that my favorite character was defunuteky Charlotte! She was just so sweet, kind, and caring and I don't think there could've been a better best friend that her! She was always supportive and always made sure that Noli was alright no matter what.
There were a lot of key surprises that were entirely predictable though and I was a bit disappointed, but I think that all the other amazing points definitely made up for it! There have been a number of mixed reviews and I definitely have mixed feelings about it, mostly good though! This is my first steampunk, honestly, but even I know it had more to do with faeries than steampunk. So anyone with a love of faeries? Definitely pick this up. Steampunkers may be a tad disappointed, but Innocent Darkness was amazing!
Noli is my kind of girl. She makes fun of simpering, vain girls and prefers fixing machines and hoverboarding. The time she spends at the abusive boarding school is written fantastically, and it sent chills up my spine while making me ill. (Not graphic anything, mind you. Just the idea that they would do these things to these girls.) That entire first section is the entire reason this gets three stars. It made me excited for what was to come and allowed me to fall in love with Noli.
Unfortunately, the second half of the book wasn't as great.
To be fair, I loved the setting. I loved the plot. I loved the description and the little wood fairies. But the characters began to grind against me. Noli, for example, begins to lose her independence a little bit. She spends a lot of the second half crying and running away. Granted, freaking everybody DID lie to her and she does do some spectacular slapping-of-faces, but she spends so much time crying and simpering and it really began to grate on my nerves.
The "mysterious man" from the blurb is a Fae named Kevighn. He's the queen's huntsman, tasked with finding a girl full of "Spark" to sacrifice so the Otherworld, magic and the Fae can continue to exist. He does this by seduction, usually. However, Noli is just different from the other girls and he finds himself falling in love with her. Because she ... gardens? Never once did she do much of anything except frustrating him by not giving into his charms or binding to the Otherworld. His character was bland, seemingly unnecessary, and made way too many mentions of how much he wanted soft women and opium. So why was he there?
Thankfully, at least Noli's best friend from forever, Stephen "V" Darrow, is the other half of the triangle. Despite being a little over swoony, he's actually a realistic kind of guy. Noli's reasons for liking Kevignh are flimsy at best, but at least with V the attraction makes sense. They are clearly in love with each other right from the get-go, so they also lacked insta-love which I enjoyed. (Well, until it got awkward there towards the end and I was wondering if I was going to need to warn people under 16 about this book. That was ... spontaneous.)
It is the plot that saves this second half. After all, I still like Noli enough that I don't want her to DIE. V showing up gets her away from Kevighn (at least, until he randomly shows up, twice), which makes a lot of things more bearable. V's brother James and Noli's friend Charlotte are also fun characters, and I enjoyed reading about them.
The first part of the end seemed like a deus ex machina. This huge issue seemed to be resolved too easily. What I didn't realize what that the book was NOT over yet. What happens to Noli at the end was definitely a twist that I wasn't expecting, and it left me interested in what would happen next.
Overall, the book was a solid 3 stars. I even thought about giving it 3 1/2. I recommend this book for people looking to ease into steampunk, as long as you are the kind of reader that likes romance-centric novels with love triangles. If you're looking for straight steampunk or something with a little less romance (the latter of which I was hoping for) then this might not be a top choice for you. Still, I enjoyed the world and I look forward to the next installment!
Ok. So maybe that's not precisely how it goes, but sadly, that fact doesn't make the statement any less true.
I'll admit, Innocent Darkness first caught my eye because of it's cover. Adorned with gears, a dirigible, the obligatory corset/pocket watch/brass-'n-leather goggles combo, and a rebellious looking heroine ready to flout Victorian-era conventions, this cover said to me, "Hi there. I'm steampunk. Grab a cuppa and read me."
And I said, "Thank the Aether." It's been a while since I read an excellent book of the steampunk variety.
Sadly, I shouldn't have pinned my hopes on this one. Typically, I don't even mention covers in my reviews, but for this book I felt compelled to say something about it simply because I think the cover is misleading. Innocent Darkness is barely, barely Steampunk. Instead it's more a story of faerie, which is fine. However, in my opinion, this book shouldn't be visually marketed so heavily as a genre it barely touches on. Besides the altered historical time line (which the reader scarcely sees evidence of), a flying car that introduces our heroine, and several mentions of aether, airships and mechanical doodads, the Steampunk element is pretty superfluous. At least in this first book. Who knows? It could become an integral part of the world and story in subsequent novels... just not in this one.
The heroine, Magnolia, or "Noli," is advertised as a "hoyden." From the saucy vibe of the girl on the cover and from the blurb, I was really hoping for a sassy, kick-butt, strong female lead who's struggling to find her place in a restrictive Victorian society. Unfortunately, the cover misled again. In the end, I found Noli to be almost the kind of girl she despised; the girl she insisted she was not. She isn't what I'd call mindless, prattling or insipid, but she doesn't really stand up for herself either, or even have much of a backbone. Instead she tends to do what the men in her life want her to do. She almost needs their affirmation and therefore doesn't feel at all independent or equal to her male counterparts. She's a follower. She's not brash. She has rare moments of sass. And I know that the title is Innocent Darkness, but I found Noli to be very naïve for a girl who'd buck her mother's authority and the law to fix cars and hoverboard illegally. Who she is at the beginning, compared to who she proves to be throughout, compared to who she says she is just feels incongruous. In the end, Noli just doesn't mature as a character, and I just couldn't find that all-important connection to her, which is unfortunate.
Moving on to the romance. Innocent Darkness does feature a love triangle, a love triangle that, in my opinion, feels forced on Noli's part. I won't say much about the whole sordid affair (because it'd reveal too much about the plot), but after certain revelations come to light, I just had a really hard time believing Noli's continued interest in one of the guys. (We'll call him Boy #1.) Especially considering who the Boy #2 is. Especially when Boy #1 means her harm. To me, Boy #1 wasn't a handsome, troubled-yet-redeemable bad boy, he was the type of guy who screams "Danger! And I don't mean the good kind!" Seriously girl, put your Nikes on and make tracks.
In regards to the story, I found the plot interesting enough, if not predictable. It was compelling in that I wanted to see where the love story ended up, if Noli would achieve any growth as a character, and how the main plot point would resolve. I did find the writing style a bit hard to adjust to. It wasn't middle grade, it was definitely YA, but perhaps more simplistic in style? I also found the dialogue to be a bit awkward at times, perhaps due to further emotional development being needed in some situations. The dialogue is another reason why I found Noli to be overly naïve, I think. Also, the storytelling style and her naivete also didn't jive somehow with the... <ahem>... somewhat mature situations that went on between Noli and her gentlemen.
Overall, while I like the idea behind Innocent Darkness, a lackluster heroine, a forced love triangle, a predictable resolution, and the whole Steampunk question ultimately left me disappointed.
Due to some mature content, I'd recommend this book for an older teen audience.
Let’s start with the good: It was a very nice plotline.
Alright, now with the not-so-good: The character depth for me wasn’t there, and that is a problem for me. There was no chemistry between them; I felt like it was very put together in a copy and paste way. The plot sometimes confused me. When I thought it would go one way, it would go the other… not as in “I don’t know what will happen next” (which I didn’t) but more of a “where did that come from and why?” - without an explanation of why. I just didn’t fall in love with this one. Again, the story itself was great; it just wasn’t portrayed in a way that I like. There wasn’t a huge “wow” factor, and I never connected with any characters. It’s not very Steampunk as I first thought. It’s more of a mixture of lots of elements that kind of resemble that genre. The only reason why I’d pick up the next book is to continue the story, but I’ll definitely be skimming.
*Received a copy for review, this in no way affects my review*
Now to what I really didn't like. A lot of the dialogue was very weak and highly unbelieveable. I know it's from their early 1900's and they do talk differently than we do now, believe me, I get that. But I've read enough period novels to know they didn't talk this way. The worst bit of this was the bad boy/other love interest, Kevighn Silver. Argh. In any YA book I am always leaning towards one guy in the mix of a love triangle. Rarely do I ever like both of them equally. But every time I feel some sort of attraction toward the other guy. Not in this case. There is not one attractive thing about Kevighn. Not his appearance, certainly not his personality. I don't mean to be so blunt but he was just boring and lame, especially for the 'bad boy'. I wonder how Noli could even be the slightest bit attracted to this...thing when she's got V. How could any woman, for that matter.
The story itself was OK. It was neither mind-blowing or insanely boring. It kept me entertained most of the time and it kept me wanting to read more. I just wish some of the dialogue was changed and I especially wish Kevighn would just not exist. Or maybe at least made up a bit better. The author did wonders on V, she really did. I fell for him right from the beginning and that never changed throughout the book.
Am I going to read the installment? Probably because I'd like to know where things go from here. Will I probably skim over parts where Kevighn is involved, most likely. Do I recommend this to book to other YA readers? Depends. It's not one I'd tell you to go out and buy the second it's released but if you just want something to read, that's steampunk with fairies, go for it. I do wish I liked it more, I really truly do. But I just can't. I finished it and was just torn up about it that I had to wait a few hours for it to settle in before I could even write this. I really like the idea Suzanne had with this story, I really did but I just wish it was executed a bit better. (And Kevighn really needs a makeover)