Saturday, March 28, 2015

Book Review - Razorhurst by Justine Larbalestier

Title: Razorhurst
Author: Justine Larbalestier
Publisher: SoHo Teen
Pages: 320 pages
Dates read: March 22nd to March 26th, 2015
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Goodreads synopsis:

The setting: Razorhurst, 1932. The fragile peace between two competing mob bosses—Gloriana Nelson and Mr Davidson—is crumbling. Loyalties are shifting. Betrayals threaten.

Kelpie knows the dangers of the Sydney streets. Ghosts have kept her alive, steering her to food and safety, but they are also her torment.

Dymphna is Gloriana Nelson’s ‘best girl’, experienced in surviving the criminal world, but she doesn’t know what this day has in store for her.

When Dymphna meets Kelpie over the corpse of Jimmy Palmer, Dymphna’s latest boyfriend, she pronounces herself Kelpie’s new protector. But Dymphna’s life is in danger too, and she needs an ally. And while Jimmy’s ghost wants to help, the dead cannot protect the living . . .
Rating: 2.5/5 stars

When I read the synopsis for Razorhurst, I was super excited. And I mean, how could I not be? Razorhurst has ghosts, mob bosses, people who kill with razors... it all sounds really awesome. Unfortunately, by the time I finished Razorhurst, I was quite disappointed.

There are some good things to this book. The writing is spectacular - the setting, the descriptions, the way Justine Larbalestier created and explained the world of Razorhurst. (Especially the short chapters that explained the world's and characters' backstory). I was totally immersed in the story because the writing was so well-done. I felt like I was actually there. But that's really where my admiration of Razorhurst stops.

What really makes me give Razorhurst such a low rating (as much as it pains me) is because the plot feels almost like an afterthought, at best. As worst, it feels like there is no plot in this book. It was all very anticlimactic. We meet Kelpie at the beginning of the book. This is where she meets Dymphna, standing over the body of her dead boyfriend. After that, the only thing that really happens is that Kelpie and Dymphna go from place to place, meeting different people along the way.

The only real conflict is that Dymphna is worried that Gloriana Nelson might want to kill her and that the other head of Razorhurst, Mr. Davidson, wants to kidnap her. When I got to around page 200, I just kept thinking what is the point of this? I wasn't necessarily bored, because the way the book was written was amazing, but I mostly felt like I was reading an essay on someone's life, not a story with a plot structure. It's a book that shows rather than tells and I just would have loved it if we could have had a fast-paced, action book with mob chases and danger around every corner. I didn't feel like that's what I got. The climax as... anti-climactic. It didn't make my heart race or get me all excited at all.

The characters were alright too. I liked Kelpie and Snowy and Neal Darcy and Gloriana Nelson and, even, Dymphna. It would have been nice to see more of them, though. The short chapters describing their back stories were interesting, but I felt like they weren't enough. I couldn't really connect to them because there wasn't anything to connect with. I think that if the characters would have been more three-dimensional, I would have enjoyed Razorhurst a lot more.

I would recommend Razorhurst to anyone who likes historical fiction. The historical backdrop is described beautifully and you really feel immersed in that world. However, I wish that the characters and plot line would have been more developped, because Razorhurst could have been a kick-ass story. I  feel that it fell short on the story front. The setting provided for an amazing story, and that wasn't what was delivered.

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