Title: All Our Pretty Songs
Author: Sarah McCarry
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: July 30, 2013
The first book in an exciting YA trilogy, this is the story of two best friends on the verge of a terrifying divide when they begin to encounter a cast of strange and mythical characters.
Set against the lush, magical backdrop of the Pacific Northwest, two inseparable best friends who have grown up like sisters—the charismatic, mercurial, and beautiful Aurora and the devoted, soulful, watchful narrator—find their bond challenged for the first time ever when a mysterious and gifted musician named Jack comes between them. Suddenly, each girl must decide what matters most: friendship, or love. What both girls don’t know is that the stakes are even higher than either of them could have imagined. They’re not the only ones who have noticed Jack’s gift; his music has awakened an ancient evil—and a world both above and below which may not be mythical at all. The real and the mystical; the romantic and the heartbreaking all begin to swirl together, carrying the two on journey that is both enthralling and terrifying.
And it’s up to the narrator to protect the people she loves—if she can.
I had mixed feelings about this book. I really liked it for the first couple pages, even though I knew it was because McCarry’s writing was almost exactly like Francesca Lia Block’s (back when she was still good, I mean). After the first direct mention of Weetzie Bat, though, the similarities between styles started really bothering me. I feel like it’s okay to be inspired by an author, but to me All Our Pretty Songs felt like a carbon copy of Block.
I also started to get a little bored of the pretty/lyrical summary that occupied the first part of the book. I kept waiting for something to happen, but nothing really did until Jack, and even then I felt like the book was written more in summaries than actual scenes. I think that can work sometimes, but I didn’t feel like it was enough in this book. I also don’t think I could stand it for another two books even though I enjoyed the writing when I wasn’t feeling sad that Francesca Lia Block doesn’t write that way anymore.
The fact that this book is part of a trilogy really surprised me as well. I kind of understand why there needs to be a sequel, but I think that All Our Pretty Songs could have been a standalone if a little more had happened. Another reason I’m not sure this will make a good trilogy is because the narrator is never named. I usually like this in books, but I feel like it would just annoy me if it stays this way for a whole trilogy.
Something else that bothered me about this book (I thought I kind of liked it but I can only think of bad things to say as I’m writing this) was Aurora. She really, REALLY ticked me off. I understand she was supposed to be this charismatic, wild, fun character, but I didn’t like how helpless she and everyone else thought she was. This girl is not someone I would want for a friend. I also didn’t like that the narrator assumed Aurora was the reason anyone ever talked to her. When she started getting suspicious that Aurora and Jack were secretly together, I just wanted to smack her over the head and shout, “NOT EVERYTHING IS ABOUT AURORA!” Basically, Aurora was a no.
Even though I liked this book at first, it ended up frustrating me and was ultimately a disappointment. I felt the author’s style wasn’t her own, thought more should have happened throughout the story, and wasn’t a big fan of the story’s focus, Aurora.