RESIDUE is the debut novel from EBR’s very own head honcho, Steve Diamond. The reason I am reviewing my bosses book is because he knows I’m incredibly picky, I dislike the genre he wrote in, and I’m the only EBR reviewer who wasn’t involved in the book from any standpoint other than reading it. Also, I’m more likely to be hard on Steve than nice.
So let’s talk about RESIDUE.
Right out of the gate, it should be noted that the cover is fantastic. A top notch effort, and really lends to the atmosphere of the book. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that covers aren’t important.
RESIDUE opens with Alexandra Courtney in a bloodbath and fight, and quickly establishes the novels reliance on the paranormal as a plot device and tool to make the characters unique. Almost as quickly, we’re introduced to Jack Bishop, the protagonist of the novel, who is a (surprise!) paranormally powered individual who is wanted by an evil “THINGY” for experiments. And stuff. Can’t get into too much detail there – spoilers, and all that!
Right?! Super tropey and a little off-setting in the beginning. Well buckle your seat-belts, cuz right there, is where the tropes end. First off, Diamond delivers complex, motivated characters, who refuse to be defined by what they can do, but instead are defined by the choices they make. All of the cast is well-written, delivering consistent high note after consistent high note. The use of ESP powers is done in a way not often seen in Horror, and definitely not YA.
The novel is a Horror/Thriller, and the pacing and taut dialogue keep that feeling up while stopping you from being worn down by the suspense. Instead, Diamond punctuates his story with violent, grim, and desperate action. The action is deftly written, and delivered with the skill of a writer several books into a series, not a debut novel. The supporting cast and history in the setting created here is fantastic. The climax is satisfying, without closing all the threads for the rest of the series.
However, the whole novel isn’t perfection and roses. There are issues and some struggles in the writing. The female lead, Alex, feels well written but not distinct from the cliché of “butt-kicking babe”, and at points Diamond struggles to bring depth to her. However, by the end of the book, he manages to stick the landing with grace and I found myself enjoying her character far more than the character of Jack Bishop. The somewhat generalized plot fails to live up to the books potential for the first half, but with the twists and plotting in the second act, really does come into it’s own. These are all mistakes of the debut author, and frankly, Diamond’s are less egregious then the majority of new authors on the scene.
Really, my only lasting complaint is the length of the book, and the waiting until the next one.
Is it perfect? No. Is it a damn good first effort from a new author in a difficult genre? Yes. Hands down one of the best debut novels I’ve read in the last few years. I look forward to more.
I can not stress this enough; Diamond delivers the only YA novel that’s ever kept me on the seat of my chair. RESIDUE treats the YA genre like adult fantasy treats adults. With respect, insight, and delightfully exquisite writing.
Recommended Age: 14+
Violence: Not only does RESIDUE have the terror-laden Horror violence, it also has some intense actiony violence. The cover quote from Larry Correia says, “The best Prom scene since CARRIE.” That should tell you all you need to know.
Sex: Nope, and it’s refreshing not to have a Horror novel resort to sex for shock value. The characters have enough to worry about (like not getting murdered) without obsessing about sex all the time.
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