swoon By Nina Malkin [Amazon]

When Dice’s cousin Pen has a near-fatal fall from a tree, she winds up possessed by one Sinclair Youngblood Powers, a ghost who was hanged in that very tree 250 years ago. Sin is determined to get revenge on the town that killed him, but Dice is just as determined to stop him. However, after an exorcism gone wrong, Sin finds himself in a body all his own – and Dice finds herself forced to try to stop the boy she’s already fallen in love with.

I could tell just from reading the blurb that Swoon is blatant Twilight rip-off. You’ve got the dark-haired, pale girl who moves from a big city (New York, in this case) to a monosyllabically-named small town (Swoon, Connecticut) where she’s supposedly a fish out of water although in actual fact she’s pretty popular. You’ve got the dreamy undead guy who may or may not be evil, and the love at first sight. You’ve even got the bizarre preoccupation with expensive cars.

But – and we all know how I feel about Twilight, so you know how much it pains me to say this – Twilight is better.

For starters, the prose of Swoon is aggressively, obnoxiously quirky. I don’t have the copy I read in front of me, so I can’t pull out too many examples, but I do remember my favorite phrase, from when Dice, Pen-as-possessed-by-Sin, and a couple of boys get out of a car: “…we denuded the sumptuous ride of our genetic material.” Not “we got out of the car.” We denuded the sumptuous ride of our genetic material. It took me three read-throughs of that sentence to figure out what she was talking about, especially since I have heard “genetic material” as a euphemism before, but never as another word for bodies. And the whole book is like that.

And it’s not just the prose that’s aggressively quirky. The whole reason the main character is called “Dice” is because everyone in Swoon has to have a monosyllabic nickname for no very clear reason, and that was her preferred shortening of her real name, Candice. So…Dice and Sin. Yeah. And while one of my major problems with Twilight was that Bella had no personality, Swoon has the opposite problem: its characters have too much, or even too many. Malkin couldn’t quite seem to decide whether Dice was an ordinary, quiet girl (just like you!) or a sexy New York club kid who goes to parties in a red bra under a black mesh shirt. Nor could she seem to decide whether Pen, Dice’s cousin, is a wholesome good girl or a wild bad one, and when her behavior’s already completely unpredictable, the crazy things she does while Sin is possessing her don’t have the impact they should. It all adds up to a distracting, hard-to-follow book, populated by characters the reader never really gets to know.

I will give Swoon this: while Twilight seems blissfully unaware of the problems with Edward and Bella’s relationship, Swoon owns its crazy. Dice is well aware that Sin is bad for her – because he’s dead, sure, but also because he’s a bad person. That doesn’t actually stop her from being with him at any point, but at least she twigs to the unhealthiness of their relationship. It gets a little worse, though, when show

Twilight says: “He acts badly because he loves you.” Swoon says: “He acts badly because he’s bad, but okay, he’s still pretty dreamy, so go for it.” It’s still a terrible message, of course, but props for slight self-awareness?

Oh, and in case you were wondering how Sin is planning on destroying Swoon? The dastardly deeds Dice is determined to prevent?

He starts orgies. There are four or five of them in the book. Orgies. Yep.

So, you know, there’s that.

Will Swoon be the next Twilight? Only time, and fourteen-year-olds, will tell, but here at Active Voice it gets zero cupcakes.


    3 Responses to “Swoon”

    1. Gillian says:

      Oh man, that looks awful. Thanks for the warning. Now even if I end up buying it for work, I can avoid reading it.

    2. Nikki says:

      I haven’t read this book, and I probably won’t. This review brings up the fact that bad people seem to be commonly passed off as “hot,” and perhaps even more commonly lately. That’s sad. But anyway: ‘Twilight says: “He acts badly because he loves you.” Swoon says: “He acts badly because he’s bad, but okay, he’s still pretty dreamy, so go for it.” It’s still a terrible message, of course, but props for slight self-awareness?’ Yeah, I suppose it gets some points for owning that a bad guy is a bad guy, but not many, because readers are more likely to take away messages from the character’s actions, rather than her observations. (She ended up with the guy, and that will stand out more than that she stated he was bad.) So, I agree with you. 🙂

    3. Emily says:

      Oh, man. I came across two “denuded”s on the same page and one later on in Cassandra Clare’s City of Ashes series (I think it was in the first book, but I don’t remember if it was Ashes or Bones.) That was it for me. Just completely ridiculous. WHY didn’t an editor catch this?

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