Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Graveminder by Melissa Marr

Title: Graveminder
Author: Melissa Marr

Genre: Fiction (Supernatural / Romance / Undead)
Publisher/Publication Date: William Morrow Paperbacks (1/17/2012)
Source: TLC Book Tours

Rating: Okay.
Did I finish?: I did, but just barely.
One-sentence summary: Twenty-something Rebekkah learns she's destined to mind the dead and keep them in their graves, and she fights with the obligation and implications of the job.

Do I like the cover?: No -- I loathe it. This is supposed to be Marr's debut in to adult fiction, and I feel like this cover places it squarely in YA fic. I vastly prefer the hardcover version.

I'm reminded of...: Kelley Armstrong, Lauren Groff

First line: Maylene put one hand atop the stone for support; pulling herself up from the soil got harder every year.

Did... I stay up until after midnight in order to finish this?: YES. The world-building was great, and I wanted to know more.

Did... I love the 'scrapbook' included at the end of the novel?: YES. I'm a big fan of extras, and the visuals of the Graveminder journals made the nerdgirl in me squee.

Am... I unsurprised that Graveminder has been picked up for tv?: YES. I described it to my wife as having a bit of a CW-feel -- benignly PG, approachable supernatural element, wangsty love conflict that could be dragged out for eight seasons...

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow, I think, if you're in need of a fluffy, unique supernatural novel.

Why did I get this book?: I adored Marr's novel Wicked Lovely, for the unique supernatural angle (evil fairies, which works, seriously), and a tattooed and pierced hunkhero that didn't turn emo the moment the heroine did what she want, and heroine that didn't turn emo over the boys (mostly). So I've been deeply interested in her adult fiction debut.

Review: Unfortunately, this book suffers from being one I've been desperate to read -- and as a result, I'm probably a little more disappointed that it didn't excite me as much as Marr's YA novels have.

I'll be honest, I'm not sure what makes this novel not a YA novel, as the elements of it -- from the character,s plot, to the cover -- feel like a straight up supernatural YA. The heroine, Rebekkah, is annoyingly borderline and wicked moody, all whiny and self-destructive, yet everyone loves her anyway.  The other characters spend all their time coddling, defending, and complimenting her for reasons that are baffling to me.  Add in a totally maddening will-they-won't-they romance that exists solely because the heroine refuses to let herself be in love with the hero for a rather flimsy reason, and you've got what felt to me like many YA novels I've already read.

There's a kernel of awesomeness to this book: bucolic Claysville is blessed -- or cursed -- to have happy, safe residents as long as the dead are cared for by a Graveminder and Undertaker.  For a few hundred years, two families have held these positions, a sort of open secret in town that everyone seems to know about -- save for Rebekkah and her love interest, for totally mystifying reasons.  When Rebekkah and her love interest take on their roles as Graveminder and Undertaker, they have to learn in a rush, as the dead are walking in Claysville, and the dead are hungry.

Anytime I got excited about the book, Rebekkah would ruin it.  Annoyingly, a good deal of the plot depends on her putting off conversations that would have otherwise staved off the resulting drama; pretty much, when Rebekkah goes to bed thinking she's too tired to call X or talk to Y, we know something awful is about to happen.

Marr does some interesting stuff in her books with love and the challenges of loving someone when a supernatural element requires you to be 'paired' with someone else. Sadly, I found Marr's exploration more deft in her YA novel, Wicked Lovely, than here.  The secondary characters in this book, as with Marr's other novels, were fantastic -- really fun -- and in this case, I wished spiky, sexy bartender Amity were our heroine, rather than whinge-y Rebekkah.

If I ignored Rebekkah (which wasn't too hard, given the plethora of other characters), the novel worked for me, and I really enjoyed the supernatural world building.  This is a zombie novel for people who hate zombies, more urban fantasy than gothic.  A diverting read, easily sucked down in a few hours.  I'm still a Marr fan, and I'm looking forward to her other books -- and I think this is a great novel for those new to urban fantasy. 

*** *** ***


I'm thrilled to be able to offer a copy of Graveminder to one lucky reader! To enter, fill out this brief form. Open to US/CA readers, ends 2/3.


  1. I am reading this one right now, and am due to finish this afternoon. I think I am liking it a lot more than you did, but I admit to being confused about this whole non-relationship things and the issues that are standing in the way of the main characters. It's a lot of back and forth, and it's getting old. I do appreciate reading your take on it though, and can see your points.

  2. @Heather: A co-worker of mine liked this book more than I did -- I think she tempered her expectations better than I! ;) I can't wait for your review -- you'll help me be rational about this, I bet! ;)

  3. If you didn't love it, then I probably won't even bother. It didn't appeal to me much to begin with, but hearing it still feels like YA (and I concur the cover looks like supernatural YA), it's probably not for me. It was nice to hear the good and bad about this one!

  4. I don't think this is my kind of book. The cover screams YA to me, too.

  5. @Carrie: It almost has the junky appeal of a CW show but the heroine is just a bit too precious for my tastes. In today's Shelf Awareness, there's coincidentally a piece by Marr on why this is an 'adult' novel rather than YA, and it's mostly because "the characters have concerns that adults have--jobs, marriage, settling into a long-term career." I have to say, that doesn't feel quite true to me, as I don't think I saw any serious contemplation of career or marriage.

    @Anna: I really feel like the cover does a disservice to the book!

  6. I'm not that big a fan of paranormal books, with a few exceptions, so I think I'll skip this one since yours isn't the first less than glowing review I've read.

  7. This one has been on my Wishlist. I'm sorry to hear that you were disappointed, but I thank you for the giveaway!

  8. You're right about this looking like YA! I always assumed it was. I'm thinking it's not for me. I definitely get what you mean about it having a CW feel.

  9. I received a copy of this one from the publisher, and while I'm still excited about it, I've seen quite a few lukewarm reviews. I think it's actually an advantage that I haven't read Wicked Lovely. :)

    Great review!

  10. I'll be reading this one for next month...and I was looking forward to it, but I think you've tempered my excitement.

  11. "This is a zombie novel for people who hate zombies" - that's good to know, because I tend not to be a zombie fan. :)

    Thanks for being on the tour Audra!

  12. I'm a fan of YA too, so it might not bother me :) Thanks for the giveaway!!

  13. I kind of enjoyed this and I've had a few people ask me if its YA...and its not. I really enjoyed this one though I have seen some of the problems you point out. Here's my review if you are interest: http://savvyverseandwit.com/2012/02/graveminder-by-melissa-marr.html

  14. I noticed some of the issues you mentioned here, but I think its more an adult book or a book that could cross over between generations. I feel like there could have been more here with some of the sub/side characters to the drama -- like Cissy and Chris.

    Here's my review if you are interested: http://savvyverseandwit.com/2012/02/graveminder-by-melissa-marr.html