Saturday, April 18, 2009

Book Review: Hell Week by Rosemary Clement-Moore

The first installment of Rosemary Clement Moore's Girl Vs Evil series was easy to write about, and the words just clicked out of my fingers. This one was just as good a read as the first, and I finished it the same day I got it in my hot little hands. Then I spent over a month trying to figure out how to review it. This one's a bit tougher to write about without injecting spoilers at every turn. In addition, there are semantic problems like the fact that, in Clement-Moore's sophomore novel, protagonist Maggie Quinn is a college freshman. Sigh.

Here goes...

In Hell Week, a demonic plot is discovered by girl reporter Maggie Quinn ...

[STOP! You did NOT just say "girl reporter" -- yes I did -- Okay, mumble mumble... just start over]

In Hell Week (HW), the second installment of Rosemary Clement Moore's Girl Vs Evil series, aspiring girl reporter Maggie Quinn [that's better] begins attending the local college in Avalon. Her sixth sense, barely acknowledged by Maggie in the wonderful Prom Dates from Hell, is now giving her strong warnings that all is not well in Avalon's Greek Row. (As if it took witchcraft to know that there was something scary there.)

The tension mounts as she attempts to infiltrate sororities during rush week, initially to further her ambition as a journalist, then to understand the disturbing events swirling around her, and finally just to survive. By the end, Maggie will face threats to her soul, to the lives of herself and everyone she cares about, and to things she holds even more dear.

The dance floor was writhing with college kids. I didn't see anyone who looked even close to thirty-- though with the strobes and dim light, it was hard to tell.

I looked around, but didn't see Jenna until she appeared in front of me and pushed a drink into my hand. "Here."

"What is this?" I took a wary sip. The drink was sweet and fruity and didn't taste like alcohol at all. The club was hot with pulsating music and sweaty bodies, and I took a deeper gulp.

"Sex on the beach." Jenna laughed at my grimace. "You're such a prude."

"It's not that." It was because even I knew it was a total sorority-girl drink. I was standing in a club, dressed in a trendy hot outfit, and drinking a sex on the beach. I had become what I most feared: a cliche.

Nooooooooooo! Well, maybe.

Maggie has to work her way through a labyrinth of changing priorities, sorority demands, and magical psychodrama, all the while keeping up the intelligent and sarcastic worldview that makes her so beloved to her fans. She manages, somehow.

All right, now what are the caveats here?

In reviewing the first novel, I gushed about how well Clement-Moore managed a difficult trick - she had three characters with the same name, and somehow she managed to allow the reader to keep them all straight.

In HW, however, there are a number of minor characters, sorority girls with different names, and they pretty much all ran together for me. Admittedly, it wasn't that important to the plot -- a babbling argument between barbies doesn't require much differentiation. But, it disappointed me because I was so enthusiastic about how Clement-Moore had accomplished the trick before. The awesome thing is, by comparison I was able to figure out some of the rules of how to make it work, and to post them on my blog.

Would I buy it again? Yep. Will I read it again? Yep. Already have. Am I buying the next one, out now? Yep.

If you like your tension with a shot of sarcasm, a sprinkle of satire and a pinch of self-doubt -- oh, and Demon-Succubus-Sidhe-Muses on the side -- Maggie's your girl... reporter. [Ouch]

No comments: