By: William Richter
Release Date: March 15, 2012
Genre/Age: YA Contemporary Thriller/Mystery
Source: ARC from Around the World ARC Tours
Wally was adopted from a Russian orphanage as a child and grew up in a wealthy New York City family. At fifteen, her obsessive need to rebel led her to life on the streets.
Now the sixteen-year-old is beautiful and hardened, and she’s just stumbled across the possibility of discovering who she really is. She’ll stop at nothing to find her birth mother before Klesko – her darkeyed father – finds her. Because Klesko will stop at nothing to reclaim the fortune Wally’s mother stole from him long ago. Even if that means murdering his own blood. But Wally’s had her own killer training, and she’s hungry for justice.
“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” for teens, this debut thriller introduces our next big series heroine.
Wow. So this book was a lot darker and more intense than I was expecting. It is not your normal fluffy YA novel, but a tense action thriller with high stakes and real consequences.
The action and thriller side of the novel is done really well. The mystery of Wally’s mother’s identity, the clues we’re slowly given, how everything falls into place… it all kept me reading late into the night. And the climax is full of nonstop action and unexpected twists that had me both cringing in horror and laughing in delight.
This is the second book I’ve read recently by a screenwriter (Jennifer Bosworth’s Struck was the other one), and oh man, do they know how to bring the excitement! The writing is engaging and each scene feels like it could come straight off the pages and right onto a movie screen.
The one thing I had an issue with in terms of the plot of the novel was how easily Wally discovers everything. She makes connections and draws conclusions based on very little evidence and she’s never wrong. She guesses things and figures things out that even trained detectives would have trouble with, much less one sixteen-year-old with very few resources. I don’t think there were any setbacks in her investigation at all. Every single lead she followed turned into a wealth of information, her timing was always perfect, and the whole thing felt unrealistic. I just wish it was done in a way that was more believable.
Other than this, I did enjoy Dark Eyes as an action novel. It’s the emotional side of the novel that I felt was lacking a bit. I never really understood Wally’s motivation for running away from home, since she obviously cares for her adoptive mother, Claire, and feels guilty about leaving her. She has led a privileged and pampered life, and comes across as rather selfish. Wally is also just a very hardened character and keeps everyone at arm’s length, which makes it hard to really connect with her. She talks about her friends as her family and the people she truly belongs with (the whole reason she ended up leaving home), but I would have liked more development of her relationship with them. I personally never really saw the connection they all had, so while I became intrigued by Wally and her quest to find her mother, I couldn’t really bring myself to care that much about the crew.
Despite my issues with the book, I enjoyed Dark Eyes. I especially loved the Russian aspect to the novel, since I lived in Russia when I was a kid. It made me feel a little nostalgic. :) Overall, Dark Eyes is a dark, gritty story that will keep you turning the pages until the thrilling conclusion.