Dark Vision by Debbie Johnson

Dark Vision  
I’m a bit torn by this book; my opinion is inconveniently divided between enjoying the story and not enjoying specific bits of it.
To the positives first, of which the book does have many. Dark Vision has a good story and doesn’t mess about in the telling of it. Lily has had a strange childhood, orphaned at a young age she’s grown up with a cold, hard, and strict grandmother. This coupled with her propensity for disturbing visions triggered by touching another person has left her socially isolated and the least tactile person in the world. Her carefully closed off lifestyle is about to get exploded when Gabriel appears beside her one night and begins to explain who she really is: not Lily McCain but The Goddess. So begins a crazy ride featuring all kinds of supernatural entities and the destiny of the world.
Lily is an interesting character, seriously damaged and with a stunningly low opinion of herself for the most part – understandable considering her upbringing devoid of affection and status as the school freak. She’s scared of emotions and has tried to seal herself off from the pleasure and pain of life. She does have one friend, the brilliantly fierce Carmel. With a friend like Carmel you’re in a good place; she’s loyal, funny, outspoken, a right laugh, and she’ll kick anyone’s butt if they give you hassle. I love her for her lack of judgement of Lily’s idiosyncrasies, and so does Lily. Considering everything, Lily’s doing OK although it’s hard for her to find the joy in life, which actually becomes much more pronounced the more she finds out about her new role.
Dark Vision gets a big tick for having interesting and diverse female characters, amongst the humans and otherworldly types. For once the male characters are much less rounded out. Mostly they’re all major eye-candy or manipulative; apart from Gabriel who combines both those traits with an over-bearing sense of duty. I feel like I ought to complain that the men are a bit limited but I’m a bit dazzled by their hotness and propensity for near-nakedness. As is Lily. After a lifetime of no touching all this flesh is temptation city, especially as she can touch vampires without it causing any unpleasant visions. The emerging sexuality theme is cool but I did get a bit tetchy about the sexual power thing. Lily gets a kick out of turning Gabriel on, fair enough, but really: ‘It was the same power all women feel when they realise the control their bodies have over men.’ I have about a million problems with that statement, but I’ll confine myself to noting that not all women feel like that, not all women nor all men are heterosexual, and not all women conceptualise sex as a power struggle. This kind of thing crops up occasionally in the book and it’s the universality of Lily’s statements that annoy me.
I may as well have my second moan now, which is about the stropping off Lily does frequently. It’s the same thing that irritates me in a fair few YA novels I’ve read recently. It’s as if none of them are capable of having a reasoned conversation instead of a knee-jerk emotional reactions. Lily has many opportunities to question different people about her situation but always stops short. Granted I’ve never been tasked with the fate of the world, but I think I’d be on a serious fact-finding mission as a matter of priority. For me, the use of a tantrum to move on the plot, it’s not my favourite thing.
But, although I do have issues with the book I did also enjoy much of it. I like Lily’s stubbornness, I like the ambiguity of motives, I like sexy vampires. Overall it is a fast and fun read that reminded me a bit of the Sookie Stackhouse stories. A second book is due to be published next year; it’s very likely that I’ll read it.
Dark Vision is out now from Del Rey; they kindly sent me a copy for review.

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