Thursday, June 19, 2014

Early Review: Melt by Selene Castrovilla

MELT is a brutal love story, set against the backdrop of The Wizard of Oz. Sixteen year old “good girl” Dorothy just blew into the small town of Highland Park – where the social headquarters is Munchkinland (Dunkin’ Donuts.) There, she meets Joey – a “bad boy” who tells no one about the catastrophic domestic violence he witnesses at home. Can these two lovers survive peer pressure, Joey’s reputation, and his alcoholism? And then there’s his family's secret – about to be unleashed. 
Told in dual first person, Joey's words are scattered on the page - reflecting his broken state. Dorothy is the voice of reason - until something so shattering happens that she, too, may lose her grip. Can their love endure, or will it melt away? 
MELT is based on true events. It is both a chilling tale of abuse, and a timeless romance. It will hit you like a punch in the face, and also seep through the cracks in your soul.

Before I begin this review, let me preface by saying that I read an advanced unedited copy of Melt so many of my comments on the book should be taken with a grain of salt. It is possible that the particular issues I had with the book have been worked out for the finished novel.

I really liked the premise of this book going into it. A book with The Wizard of Oz as its backdrop? A book about love enduring domestic violence, alcoholism, and all those all-too-real challenges? Yes, please. In my opinion, there are far too many books that shy away from tough topics like this, and I truly commend Selene Castrovilla for taking on the task. She certainly has a gift for engaging readers. The scenes where she tackles the domestic violence issue are gripping.

I liked Castrovilla's decision to tell the story from both Dorothy and Joey's alternating perspectives. It was an interesting choice to write Joey's side of the story as poetry. It worked for his frame of mind, though it was sometimes inconsistent (which I guess was the point, so good job). I also had an issue with Joey's voice in his chapters not being consistent with his voice in Dorothy's chapters.  I'm not an expert, but I don't think your voice changes that much between your speech and your thoughts, and his speech was much more eloquent. His voice in his chapters seemed, for lack of a better word, ghettoized. More on this in a minute.

However, I have to admit this book left me wanting. It just didn't live up to my expectations.

1. I came into this book expecting a lot more of The Wizard of Oz to be involved. All I really got was a comment about Dorothy's name, a lot of use of the word melt, and a reference to Dunkin' Donuts as "Munchkinland." Oh, and quotes from the book at the beginning of section, or "parts" of the book. I don't see how this book was "set against the backdrop of The Wizard of Oz," because it wasn't. The references just seemed hollow, unnecessary, and distracting from the story.

2. The relationship between Dorothy and Joey was cliche. She's the rich new girl in town, he's the bad boy from the other side of the tracks (literally). They fall instantly in love over croissants and jelly donuts (which he uses as a metaphor for himself), and have a magical love current that moves between them when they touch. I had hoped this magical love touch would manifest itself in some Wizard of Oz alternate universe reincarnation type scenario, but nothing came of it. Word to all authors, PLEASE, stop with the Insta-love thing. It's not realistic.

3. Not only was the relationship cliche, it was pretty shallow. The characters, especially Joey, had depth, but it never really showed through in the narrative. The story just seemed to lack in character development.

As I said above, please take these comments with a grain of salt. I did read an unedited copy, and I'm sure many of these problems have been or will be resolved. And I promise that I will update this review after the book is released on... November 6! Give this book a shot (or a double). It has potential, so I'm giving it 3 espresso shots.

Thanks to Jen Halligan and the staff at JHPR for sending me the ARC for Melt

Have a great weekend!

Overall Rating: 3 espresso shots

Enter for a chance to win a copy of Melt

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About Selene Castrovilla

Selene Castrovilla is an award-winning teen and children’s author who believes that through all trends, humanity remains at the core of literature. She is the author of Saved By the Music and The Girl Next Door, teen novels originally published by WestSide Books and now available digitally through ASD Publishing. Her third children’s book with Calkins Creek Books, Revolutionary Friends, was released in April 2013. She is also a contributing author to UncommonYA. Selene holds an MFA in creative writing from New School University and a BA in English from New York University. She lives on Long Island with her two sons. Visit her
website for book excerpts and more information!

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