Perverse by Larry Rodness

The definition of perverse courtesy of Dictionary.com:

1) willfully determined or disposed to go counter to what is expected or desired; contrary
2) characterized by or proceeding from such a determination or disposition
3) wayward or cantankerous
4) persistent or obstinate in what is wrong
5) turned away from or rejecting what is right, good, or proper; wicked or corrupt

Synonyms: 1) contumacious, disobedient; 4) stubborn, headstrong, willful; 5) evil, bad, sinful 

Perverse is billed as a coming of age story with a paranormal twist. It tells the story of Emylene Stipe, a 2nd generation Goth. Emylene's parents own the Pall Bearer's Paradise, a Goth club and hangout, which makes Emylene royalty in the local Goth community. Emylene's world takes a turn for the unexpected after striking up an affair with Stelio, a Geek store owner with a secret. Soon everything Emylene knows will be turned upside down as her world becomes infected by evil vampyres (book spelling), leaving her to fight to save her world.

Perverse was given to me by the author in exchange for a review. I am honestly torn about how to feel about this book. I feel that there were almost two competing stories - Emylene's coming of age tale and the paranormal battle against vampyres - that don't completely mesh together successfully. I'll start with what I feel was the least successful of the two - the coming of age tale. I think my preconceived notions of what constitutes a "coming of age" story might have a lot to do with how I responded to this aspect of the story. When I hear "coming of age" I expect a story that focuses on a character (or small group of characters) and chronicles a journey of discovery and/or transformation. It is a personal story and the story is generally told from the perspective of the character undergoing the transformation. This perspective is essential to the story, in my opinion. It is through this character that we as readers get our cues on how we are expected to react and build a connection to the story. We may not always agree with the character, but seeing the story through their eyes provides the thread through which we can experience the story and come to understand how they view the world around them. To me this is an essential aspect of a "coming of age" story, because without this understanding, it is difficult to see how the character's perspective changes over time.

In my opinion, the biggest obstacle for this part of the story was the author's chosen point of view. The story is told from an objective POV, where the narrator is separated from the story and simply tells the happenings. The story is never told through the eyes of Emylene and it is, therefore, hard to know what she is really thinking and feeling. Because I was never able to get into Emylene's head, it was hard for me to connect with her as a character and understand how she saw the world. She said her parents were overbearing and that she resented the responsibilities their positions in the community placed on her, but why she felt this way was unclear and it made it hard to sympathize with her and understand her need to rebel. Emylene's voice was largely absent from the narrative, making it was hard to understand her and recognize any changes that may have occurred. Aside from being more appreciative of her parents, she really didn't seem all the different at the end of the book. Usually in a "coming of age" story I expect the character to experience some significant change. This may have been a style choice made by the author, as it would certainly be a "perverse" play on the traditional format, but to me it was jarring and instead of intriguing, it left me scratching my head and feeling like I missed something. 

As far as the paranormal aspect of the story, I felt that it was much more successfully executed. It was imaginative and entertaining. This aspect of the book was much better developed and I feel like the book would have been stronger had this been the focus of the book. The ending is left open enough that there could be a sequel, but at this point I find myself hesitant to say that I would be willing to pick it up and continue the story. I just don't feel like I built enough of a connection to the story. I believe this story has a lot of potential, but like some other self-published/smaller publisher books, it suffers from the lack of a good editor.

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