Precious Blood – Tonya Hurley
From the author of the New York Times bestselling ghostgirl series, the start to a dark and thrilling trilogy about three girls who become entangled with an enigmatic boy. Previously published as The Blessed.
What if martyrs and saints lived among us? And what if you were told you were one of them?
Meet Agnes, Cecilia, and Lucy. Three lost girls, each searching for something. But what they find is Beyond Belief.
I should have realized, after seeing that it was republished under a new name, that it was disappointing. But I didn’t, and now I’m mad.
I picked this book up because that cover was screaming at me, and I loved the synopsis: three saints reincarnated as modern-day girls? WHAT AN AMAZING CONCEPT.
It was terrible.
I went in expecting a V.C. Andrews-esque experience (where I’d be both appalled, but fascinated); instead, I got the trainwreck that was the last season of Gossip Girl (where nothing made sense and everyone was horrible).
For one, the story moved slower than a sloth. At first, I didn’t mind; I liked being introduced to the girls one-by-one (in a hospital ER over the course of one night), and thought it was a good way to get to know them. But then, after 50+ pages of them going about their lives, the girls have to meet each other, which took about 100 pages. And I didn’t like any of them enough to spend that much time with them individually. Lucy is a wannabe celebrity, Cecilia’s a struggle musician, and Agnes is a schoolgirl with all the strength of a ragdoll. Together, they’re catty and mean, and spent the majority of the book sniping at each other which got tiresome after a few chapters.
Meanwhile, their love interest, Sebastian (another saint!), has the personality of an empty gift bag – sure, he’s pretty to look at, but he has no substance. I couldn’t get a feel for him, and even by the end, I wasn’t sure if he was telling them the truth or if he actually was delusional (no, seriously – what happened at the end?). It was one of the worst cases of insta-love I’ve ever seen…and it wasn’t just one of the girls, it was all three of them! All three of them fell in love with him within seconds! I feel so blasphemous saying this, but at least if he was a reincarnated Jesus, I could understand why they followed him without questioning (sidenote: I’d probably read a YA novel about teenaged Jesus. My very Catholic dad would be horrified, but I’d give it a shot. Just sayin’.)
The writing also bothered me on a technical level. There were lots of broken/fragmented sentences that interrupted my reading; it would have been cool if she was writing in a more prose-like fashion (the way Bible passages are broken into verses within chapters), but then each sentence really should have had its own line without being smashed into one paragraph.
And oh my gosh, the dialogue tags. I’m normally a fan of creative dialogue tags (reading the word “said” over and over can get boring), but even I can admit they’re better in moderation. Especially when the dialogue tags make the characters seem even more unpleasant than they already are i.e. in this gem of an interaction:
“…you’re a murderer,” Jesse screeched…
“I could split your loser skull.” Sebastian grimaced.
The dialogue itself felt disingenuous for the most part, like her editor pointed out that no one had said anything in a while and so she forced a conversation instead of letting it flow naturally.
One thing I found interested was the amount of religious imagery and vocabulary that was used, especially before the girls are revealed to be reincarnated saints (which, by the way, happens 300 pages in, by which point I was skimming). As a Catholic, I got most of the references, though I still had to look a couple of things up, but I wonder how this reading experience differs for people who aren’t religious.
I could go on about all the things I didn’t like, but I’ll cut it short here. I will add, however, that they’re are a couple of chapters of graphic violence that felt so out of place, it was like reading a whole different book. It was the very definition of the phrase “that escalated quickly”, but instead of improving the story, it disgusted me. Spoiler alert: people get impaled with guitars and blood is EVERYWHERE and it’s so gross, I had this look on my face:
So, even though I always feel bad about giving books a poor rating, I have to say it: this was a one star. It would probably be no stars, but I actually finished the thing instead of abandoning it, so kudos to Tonya Hurley for making me waste a few hours of my life.