Thursday, February 21, 2013

Blackwood by Gwenda Bond

book cover of Blackwood by Gwenda Bond

Title: Blackwood
Author: Gwenda Bond
Release date: September 4, 2012
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Pages: 416
Source: Bought
Reading level: YA


On Roanoke Island, the legend of the 114 people who mysteriously vanished from the Lost Colony hundreds of years ago is just an outdoor drama for the tourists, a story people tell. But when the island faces the sudden disappearance of 114 people now, an unlikely pair of 17-year-olds may be the only hope of bringing them back.

Miranda, a misfit girl from the island’s most infamous family, and Phillips, an exiled teen criminal who hears the voices of the dead, must dodge everyone from federal agents to long-dead alchemists as they work to uncover the secrets of the new Lost Colony. The one thing they can’t dodge is each other.

Blackwood is a dark, witty coming of age story that combines America’s oldest mystery with a thoroughly contemporary romance.

I really wanted to like Blackwood.  When I heard about it being picked up for a TV show I decided I should give it a shot since the story sounded so interesting.  It was definitely interesting but I found it lacking in quite a few ways and I was just unimpressed with it.
The characters in this book are odd.  Miranda and Phillips are both outcasts but that doesn’t make them friends.  In fact, Phillips helped make Miranda the outcast that she is.  Her family is said to be cursed and her dad is the town drunk.  When things on Roanoke Island get really crazy though they have to band together to try and solve the mystery before it’s too late.  It was an interesting concept and I liked that the characters were different than your typical protagonists but they were just a little too weird to relate to.  However, I did like that Miranda was a Vampire Diaries fan.  I give her props for that.  Other than that though she was just really standoffish and not very friendly.  There were just a few too many things that I didn’t like about her.  Same with Phillips.  He was better than Miranda, in my opinion, but I just didn’t care for him.  The characters were definitely not what kept me interested in this story.
I do have to applaud the actual story though.  It was beyond unique.  114 people disappeared from Roanoke Island hundreds of years ago and no one knows what happened to them.  Now it’s happened again and it has something to do with Miranda’s family and their curse.  The mystery kept me guessing and it wasn’t an easy plot to figure out.  I was fascinated by the mix of history and contemporary and that’s definitely why I actually enjoyed this book.
I don’t really have any praise for the writing but it wasn’t bad.  There wasn’t anything spectacular about it however.  It’s not something that really stuck with me after finishing the book.  I would call it mediocre.  The story was really the only thing not mediocre about Blackwood.
Overall, Blackwood was really just a book that hit right in the middle for me.  I didn’t love it but I didn’t hate it.  If you’re a history buff and you don’t really care all that much about characters, I’d recommend this one.  Maybe get it from your library though.

Looking for more reviews of Blackwood?
Smexy Books’ review
The Book Smugglers’ review
A Dream of Books’ review

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  1. Little Miss Becky

    I’ve been curious about this one, too, since hearing it got picked up for TV. It does sounds like an interesting story, but characters and writing kind of make or break a book for me—not sure I would like this one.

    Great honest review, Katie!

  2. Beneath the Moon and Stars

    I have this one on my to read stack! I won it in a giveaway but had never heard of it! Since then I haven’t seen any talk about it until this. I really care about characters so I don’t think this one will be for me but I’m still gonna give it a shot! Unique story’s are always good! Wonderful honest review Katie <3


  3. John The Bookworm

    This one interested me, but between you and The Book Smugglers, I have to say that it probably won’t be for me. I’ve been reading too many ‘okay’ paranormal stories, and this one doesn’t sound like the best intro to the Strange Chemistry imprint.

  4. Cecelia

    Hmm… I’m seeing mixed reviews for this one. I live in Virginia, though, and I’m really interested to see how the Roanoke thing plays out history-wise. I’ll probably try it anyway. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Bekka @ Pretty Deadly Reviews

    I tried to read this book a while ago, but just could not get into it. I didn’t find the writing engaging at all, and I didn’t make it but ten pages in. I’m glad I didn’t waste my time on it down, but it does stink that you didn’t like it. The premise sounds really good, too 🙁

  6. Christina Kit.

    I really loved the concept, because Roanoke is something that got me all excited since grade school. I mean, a real life mystery?? Who can pass that up??

    It’s too bad you didn’t enjoy it – it did sound full of potential but if you didn’t connect with the characters there’s no point.

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