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Monday, December 12, 2011

Bleed Too Plotless, Pointless

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

It may be the season of good tidings and great joy, but I've been stuck in bleak, depressing YA drama-land. Thank goodness this stuff's fiction. At least I hope it's mostly made up - otherwise, the teenage world is a scary, hopeless to be. I appreciate the raw honesty in these books, it's just that wow, they're unsettling. Maybe I should stick with cheesy, Christmas tearjerkers instead? Yeah, like that's gonna happen.

Take Bleed by Laurie Faria Stolarz, for instance. The book's about a group of kids, mostly high school juniors, who are floundering around one summer trying to fill the emptiness in their lives. Nicole Bouchard's spending her school-less days obsessing over Sean O'Connell, who just happens to be going out with her best friend, Kelly Pickerel. Meanwhile, Kelly's in California, conveniently forgetting to call Sean while she sneaks out to meet the 21-year-old ex-con she's been secretly writing to for the last 5 years. Maria Krito's got only one thing on her mind: cutting. Just like her mother's boyfriend uses Maria to get what he wants, she uses other people to help her feel something. Anything. The problem is, not everyone wants to pierce her flesh with a safety pin. So, she convinces them. Derik LaPointe's a player, Joy just wants to be loved, and poor Sadie Dubinski - she wants to be accepted so badly that she's willing to do anything, even cut Maria, just to belong. And then there's Mearl Aremian. No one knows what to make of her, least of all herself. As the kids' paths cross and re-cross one sweltering summer in Salem, Massachusetts, they're lives become increasingly more interesting.

The back cover of this book offers very little in the way of story description, which makes sense since the novel itself has no discernable plot. Unfortunately, this aimlessness makes the whole book seem kind of ... pointless. I mean, yes, it's illuminating in some ways and yes, it kept me reading and, yes, I cared about the characters (some of them, anyway), but, overall, it's a depressing read that doesn't offer much in the way of hope or positivity. The writing's solid, but that just isn't enough in this case - I wanted plot, I wanted purpose, I wanted some kind of powerful message. And none of that shows up in Bleed. Bummer.

(Readalikes: Hm, I don't know. Nothing's really coming to mind. Any ideas?)

Grade: C

If this were a movie, it would be rated: R for strong language, sexual content and intense situations

To the FTC, with love: I received a finished copy of Bleed from the generous folks at Hyperion Teen. Thank you!


  1. Eep, I must say, this sounds absolutely disturbing :s I just can't read books about stuff like that (the cutting and the safety pins), it's like watching a scary movie, the images stay in my brain, haunting me :(

  2. Sheesh! This book sounds depressing! If it had, had a message or good plot it might have been worth it but without one it sounds awful!

  3. Iben - Definitely disturbing. It makes my heart ache (and my stomach turn) to think there are teens out there who really do live like that.

    Jenny - Exactly! I can stomach disturbing books as long as they're disturbing in a purposeful way. Or a hopeful way. Or something that's more than just disturbing disturbing, you know?


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