Book Review: All Our Pretty Songs by Sarah McCarry

16045120Title: All Our Pretty Songs

Author: Sarah McCarry

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance

Age Group: Young Adult

Rating: 3 stars

Purchase: Goodreads, Amazon, B&N

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The first book in an exciting YA trilogy, this is the story of two best friends on the verge of a terrifying divide when they begin to encounter a cast of strange and mythical characters.

Set against the lush, magical backdrop of the Pacific Northwest, two inseparable best friends who have grown up like sisters—the charismatic, mercurial, and beautiful Aurora and the devoted, soulful, watchful narrator—find their bond challenged for the first time ever when a mysterious and gifted musician named Jack comes between them. Suddenly, each girl must decide what matters most: friendship, or love. What both girls don’t know is that the stakes are even higher than either of them could have imagined. They’re not the only ones who have noticed Jack’s gift; his music has awakened an ancient evil—and a world both above and below which may not be mythical at all. The real and the mystical; the romantic and the heartbreaking all begin to swirl together, carrying the two on journey that is both enthralling and terrifying.

And it’s up to the narrator to protect the people she loves—if she can.

All Our Pretty Songs was a confusing read for me. On the one hand, there’s very lyrical, poetic prose, which I liked. Somewhat. I mean, it was all great in the beginning, but by halfway through the book, when things started happening, the events and actions were completely dominated by the lyrical prose, which made me feel like nothing was happening at all.

The book is told from first person POV, and it’s one of the best first person POVs I’ve ever read, I’ll grant the author that. By page fifty or something, I was so deeply enthralled in the main character’s world and mind, that I’d deeply connected with her, and with her best friend, Aurora. If the book had been all about Aurora and our MC, then I could’ve lived with the action scenes flying by too quickly. The friendship between Aurora and the MC is amazing. They’ve been BFFs since they were both little kids, and before that, their moms were best friends. Both without a father – MC doesn’t know who her father is, and Aurora’s dad passed away – and without reliable mother figures, they only had themselves to depend upon. While they’re both very different, this only strengthens their relationship. Aurora and the Narrator both have history, they share many years together, and they both deeply love each other, almost like sisters.

But then, Jack comes into the picture. Our Narrator’s relationship with Jack is weird from the get-go. Whereas the relationship between the Narrator and Aurora is convincing and heartwarming, Jack doesn’t convince at all. From the moment they meet, our Narrator falls head over heels for him, and Jack instantly likes her back. The problem is that her reaction to this guy is completely over the top and exaggerated. The Narrator talks about going all Juliet on him if he doesn’t want her (as in, killing herself), and not being able to live without him, blah blah. I get that emotions can be strong when you’re in love for the first time, but this strong is heavily exaggerated, and not a very good example.

There were things I absolutely loved about this book. The paranormal part – we get glimpses early on, but it’s only fully explored in the later half of the book – is great. It’s a twist on classic mythology, and I’m a huge fan of mythology, so I’m definitely on board. I liked the Narrator. She’s not your general, typical YA main character. She’s down to earth (except when it comes to Jack), courageous, intelligent, willing to do everything for her best friend. The music was another great addition to the book. And the dark and gritty feel and unsettling atmosphere were excellent as well.

But like I mentioned, whatever action happened, it was over in the blink of an eye. Everything was dominated by the prose, making this book a lot slower and more boring than it had to be.

That said, I did enjoy the book enough that I’ll give the second one in the trilogy a shot. This one had a rather unsatisfactory ending, and I’d like to see what happens next. So while I found the action greatly lacking, I’m invested enough in the characters, particularly the MC, to want to know more about what’ll happen to them.

If you’re a fan of lyrical prose and friendship stories, All Our Pretty Songs may be a good choice for you. Keep in mind though, this is definitely not for the younger YA audience due to language, some more explicit scenes (nothing too graphic, of course) and a possible bisexual relationship.

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