Saturday, 17 September 2011

Review: Solace and Grief by Foz Meadows

The Story:
Solace Morgan was born a vampire. Raised in foster care, she has always tried to keep her abilities secret, until an eerie encounter with a faceless man prompts her to run away. Finding others with similar gifts, Solace soon becomes caught up in a strange, more vibrant world than she ever knew existed. But when the mysterious Professor Lukin takes an interest in her friends, she is forced to start asking questions of her own. What happened to her parents? Who is Sharpsoft? And since when has there been a medieval dungeon under Hyde Park?

My Thoughts:
Sue recommended this book to me after I had a big whinge discussion with her about how I didn't think my MS would fit in with the current culture of publishable Australian YA. After reading Solace and Grief, I think I am even more dismayed. But that's another story entirely. Solace and Grief is beautifully written novel and blends the concepts of vampires and other paranormals or Rare with social issues such as homelessness, alcoholism and general displacement and listlessness.
       Solace grows up in a group home where for seventeen years she feels as if she doesn't fit into the world. After dozens of foster parents fail to materialise on the day they are meant to pick her up, Solace is resigned to living out the remainder of her teenage years with the eclectic mix of other unwanted group home kids. That is, until the day the Faceless man begins to stalk her and for reasons unknown to Solace, she is compelled to run away. Solace encounters a ragtag group of youths in a club and almost immediately forms a bond with them. It isn't till much later that Solace learns that every member of her new found group of friends is a Rare and all have their own special Tricks
        Sound great at this point doesn't it? That's what I thought too at the beginning, and then the "getting to know you" bit went on and on and on. Much of the book is spent idly hanging around the Gadfly club where Solace initially meets her friends, or sleeping in the warehouse they all live in. While I was compelled to continue reading because of the premise and the writing, I have to admit that at times the story dragged and I almost thought it was a bit pointless. Things do pick up towards the end of the book though and I think the small twist was what saved it for me. 
      Character wise, there was a lot of scope for some great personalities in this book, what with the special powers and the sheer number of friends Solace makes. I really liked the idea of a group of ragtag teens coming together to fight evil. Unfortunately, this was one of the areas where I believe the author let herself down. Besides Solace's closest friend Manx (whose power is to turn into a giant house cat..LAME!), I can't remember anything distinguishing about any other characters. Even whilst I was reading the book, I kept thinking how interchangeable everyone was and there were times when I had no idea who a couple of the girls were. Solace herself was far from being a kickass heroine. Most of the action in the book was thrust upon Solace and she just reacted. Rather slowly I might add. For a vampire with super strength, I was disappointed with her if I were to be honest. Even the tiny bit of romance in the book felt incredibly out of place because of the previous disinterest shown by Solace and then when things started happening, Solace exhibited some overwhelming emotions that seemed to come out of nowhere. 
       I know it was meant to be a paranormal fantasy but I just couldn't suspend my belief for this book. If only because Solace's group of friends were meant to be street kids and vagrants and yet their dialogue was more befitting a high tea luncheon. I was also a tiny bit concerned with the very liberal portrayal of underage drinking, drug taking and general aimlessness. I'm not sure at this point if I'll check out book two. The writing as I've stated was incredible. That and the concept of the Rare has carried this book past the neutral rating mark. I'm not sure if I'm invested enough in the story to overlook the lackluster cast though.



  1. Oh yawn! I hate when a book takes forever introducing everyone and doesn't get on with the story. And worse, you keep reading the dang thing only to find it never even gets to a story.

  2. I hate flat, undistinguished characters. Ick!

  3. Jenny: That was my biggest problem with this book and many others. Something monumental happens and there's no sense of urgency at all. It's just "oh, so and so has disappeared...let's go have a drink and see how it pans out."

    Fairy Penguin: I hate them too. Characters are the best part of books and when they're not memorable neither is the book.

  4. Pity. I enjoyed it. I rather liked the character who would have loved to be a lion or something dramatic and was stuck with being a giant house cat. I REALLY liked the notion that there was all this stuff going on under the streets of Sydney. I wouldn't have described it as slow-moving, myself, but everyone see these things differently. ;-)

    I recommended it to you to read, Lan, because you said your novel was sort of X Men and that nobody was publishing this sort of stuff. Well, they are.

    I have the sequel for reviewing. It moves away from Sydney into an Otherworld. I'm stoill reading it, so won't comment.

  5. Im going to be honest. I'm getting bored with the current culture of YA! Yes there are some really great writers out there, but I like to read different books, not the same ones over and over again. :)


  6. We are such picky readers, aren't we? A book needs to be character driven...but we want to get to know those characters through action. (More with the showing! Always more! LOL)

  7. Your book critiques are awesome! I'm a big fan of STUFF HAPPENING, too.

  8. Sue: I'm glad for the recommendation! I wouldn't have known about the book at all, and if anything I want to read as much Aussie YA as I can. I just couldn't get into this one. I agree the idea of there being secret activity happening under Sydney is great. It's just that as an avid action reader/viewer, I found the pace of the story to be a bit slow.

    Alana: I'm trying to branch out as well. Have started realizing though that all books are hit and miss no matter what the genre.

    BJ: That's exactly right. I want my characters personalities to come out whilst things are happening all over the place. I don't mind if books start off a bit slow because I like to get a good feel for the world, but 3/4 of a book is pushing it for me!

    Jenny: Ditto :)

    Peggy: Thank you! I would have been happy if there was a bit more use of the powers involved :(

  9. " ... whose power is to turn into a giant house cat ..."

    I LOL'd so hard at this! Hahaha!
    Nice review! It really sucks when, even in a *fantasy* novel, it's hard to suspend belief for it!


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