Feb 132012

Angry and disillusioned, yet loved and privileged, 16-year-old Wallis Stoneman is living on the street. While Wally has always known that she was adopted from a Russian orphanage, she has recently stumbled upon an envelope of information suggesting not only that her biological mother is alive but also nearby, and Wally is determined to find her. Armed with survival skills, Wally and her “street family” fight not just to find Yalena Mayakova (her mother) but for their very lives. Hollywood screenwriter Richter has entered the YA market with a bang. Riffing on his cinematic understanding of how setting and pacing can drive characters’ thoughts and actions, and his talent for scattering clues that lead readers to off-base conclusions, Richter has created a hardscrabble, violent world that is juxtaposed with Wally’s other wealthy and serene world. The dichotomy between the adults that Wally and her crew interact with on the
street and those from her nonstreet life is stark as well. This novel is not for the faint of heart. Its violence, complex characters, and international espionage are similar to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2008) but without the sexual violence or innuendo. The conclusion is realistic, sad, and violent, but it is somewhat upbeat only because Wally is. Let’s hope we see more of her and author Richter soon.
— Frances Bradburn

 Posted by at 7:56 pm
Jan 312012

The Witch’s Library writes:  5/5 – One of the Best YA Thrillers Yet!

Okay, I can see where people would compare the “Millennium/Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” trilogy to this book, and to be fair, for the YA market, that’s a pretty good match. I absolutely loved “Dark Eyes” because it has all of the elements I could ever want in a YA book – thrills, chills, and spills (with a teeny dash of romance mixed in). Richter makes Wally so alive that I felt as if I were really there, with her, running with her as the clock ticked down. If you like your YA heroines fierce and strong, “Dark Eyes” is most definitely the book for you.

I was pretty much hooked from the first page. I love it when authors plunk us down in media res beginning their scene, but I especially love it when they do it when they’re starting the book that way. My heart pounded throughout the entire book and I consumed it in more or less one sitting. This is a fantastic standalone that just has one goal: find yourself and survive. Wally’s journey to find her birth mother and the reason why her friends start dropping like flies was tightly, elegantly wrought with no words to spare but plenty of sensory language/dialogue and a real feeling of a life on the street.

But seeing as Richter is a screenwriter by trade, this is no surprise. The prose is cinematic in quality, and it was like watching a movie in my head. There were a few places where I felt there were some sensory input pieces missing (the beginning with Wally still in Russia), but as I have a screenwriter for a friend who makes the same mistakes with his own book, that’s par for the course. In screenwriting, you have a camera to fill in your sensory blanks. With prose writing, you don’t have that camera, you have to make it instead. But because this was more or less such an airtight story, I can’t really nag Richter about that. It was so polished and for such a narrow scope of a story (Wally and her quest), all the characters were very well-rounded and nothing felt empty or lacking except for a few pieces of the sensory spectrum here and there.

What I also really loved was the fact that he left room for the reader to imagine Wally’s true ending at the end of the book, leaving it empty for the reader to fill in what she was going to do next. This is a very fast-paced book, and the ending finally drew itself out in the final pages, unwinding very slowly and that was delicious, too, as all of the questions we had about Wally, her mother, her father, and some of the other characters were very easily and elegantly answered. There is some romance here, but it’s not a main focus, though it does affect Wally and her judgment at times. At heart, this is adventure, this is a thriller, and this is a race against the clock to find answers before others get killed. This is what YA needs more of – well written, strong YA heroines that are trying to find themselves and not their next boyfriend. Considering Richter wrote this as 3rd person close, he managed to write Wally as a girl in a feminine tone. It’s hard to do cross-gender narration (even in 3rd close), so that’s what made this even more enjoyable.

So if you love your YA girls hardened, smart, and you like your stories with a bite to them, check out “Dark Eyes” when it hits shelves in the US in March. This is definitely one of my best of 2012 so far, so be sure to grab a copy at your bookstore or library. It really is worth the read.

For original review, to go: http://witchoftheatregoing.wordpress.com/2012/01/05/review-dark-eyes-by-william-richter/

 Posted by at 1:41 pm
Sep 192011
the power of six

This book is an absolute thrill ride, weaving together a non-stop concoction of action, intrigue, mean nuns and alien death squad scariness. Pittacus Lore grabbed me from page one and never let go, for which I am extremely grateful… where did my weekend go? I never read I AM NUMBER FOUR but I definitely will now.

 Posted by at 12:28 pm