ARC Review: Dorianna by Catherine Stine
Author: Catherine Stine
Genre: YA paranormal/horror
Publisher: Evernight Teen
Publish Date: October 24, 2014
*This post was updated on March 9, 2017 to fit with the current format
Synopsis: Internet followers, beauty, power. It all sounded good. Until it transformed into a terrifying reality Dorianna couldn’t stop.
Dorianna is a dark twist for the Internet generation on A Picture of Dorian Gray.
When her father is jailed, her mother ships lonely, plain Dorianna to her aunt’s. There, Dorianna yearns to build a new identity, but the popular Lacey bullies her—mostly for getting attention from her ex, Ander.
Ander takes Dorianna to Coney Island where Wilson, a videographer, creates a stunning compilation of her. She dreams of being an online sensation, as she’s never even had a birthday party, and vows she’d give anything to go viral. Wilson claims he’s the Prince of Darkness and warns her the pledge has downsides.
Dorianna thinks he’s joking. She has no idea of how dire the consequences might be.
ReviewDorianna by Catherine Stine was an ARC I received by Bewitching Book Tours for reading/viewing purposes only. In receiving this ARC, I will post an honest, true review reflecting my opinion over this book. This review is my opinion and hasn’t been influenced by any other party.
Cover: I didn’t like the cover. The girl made it unbalanced. It would’ve been better with just the beach horizon. Also, the blurb almost overpowered the title. It should’ve been a bit smaller or it’s not even needed. I don't like how it looks.
Dorianna- At different points in the novel, I liked and disliked Dorianna which I believe is the author's purpose. I felt like she always got way too in over her head. She was too obsessed with being noticed and what everyone else was doing. She should have been more concerned with herself. But I guess that was the main point of Dorianna. She had to go through this journey to discover how she wanted to be. Also, she was a brat most of the time. If people weren’t doing what she wanted, she made them do things to please her.
Wilson (aka Warren)- Wilson is just a creep. I was not fond of the Prince of Darkness. He was just plain creepy, and Dorianna should have stayed away from him. He just gave me the willies every time he was mentioned. I don’t know how Ander was friends with him.
Ander- I liked Ander at first, but he’s a cheater. He needs to grow a pair and stand up. He’s also kind of a jerk.
Lacey- I liked Lacey. Sure, she was a brat, but I liked her. She didn’t have to gain powers to have people like her. She didn’t physically harm people with balls of heat. She was one of my favorite characters.
Bailey- Bailey was my favorite character. I loved how she stuck with Dorianna throughout the end. She’s a true friend. Also, she was nice to Dorianna at first unlike everyone else. She’s a good person.
GENERAL- I liked how all of the characters were artists. They were all very creative in their own unique ways. I liked that about them.
Plot: The plot was kind of confusing. Even now, as I sit on my couch and write this review, I still don’t understand Dorianna’s/Wilson’s powers. I didn’t understand the Beast. It confused me. Also, it was very strange, but it was unique. I think I’ll remember this plot for a while since it was so strange. It was different. Also, it relates to modern times. People these days are so obsessed with their followers. I relate a little with Kayl’s Krazy Obsession and all because it’s my baby and I love it, but I can’t fathom how Dorianna, or someone in general, could be that obsessed with being known and out there. That’s all they cared about. In the end, Dorianna became possessed with checking her follower stats and everything. I don’t get it.
Ending (SPOILERS): I really liked how this ended. Dorianna took charge of her life. She was tired of hurting people, so she admitted herself in the detention center. She hurt herself every time she tried to change for the good, but she didn’t let that stop her. She wanted the powers GONE. So that’s what she did. (END SPOILERS)
Also, I liked the 18 years later chapter. I think it provided great insight into how Dorianna affected everyone. I loved the whole Dorianna by Ander James. I love how Ander finally achieved his dream of being an author. It was a great ending. And then Ander and Dorianna apologized in their own ways. It was perfect.
Overall: Honestly, I did not like this book at first. I seriously considered stopping and marking as a DNF. But I’m glad I finished it. I love it now. I am so happy that I decided to give this book another chance. Yeah, it might have been a bit confusing, but I’ll remember this book for a while.
Guest PostEvoke, Don’t Bludgeon, Or Show Don’t Tell by Catherine Stine
In my own writing and in the literature I teach, from Collin’s fabulous Hunger Games to Kafka’s story The Hunger Artist, I’m always harping on the importance of “showing not telling.” When I was a newbie, if I heard that slogan once, I heard it a zillion times. Does it mean you always have to put the characters in dialog or in action, or that you can’t have exposition? No, and that’s where it gets complicated. So, let me start simply, by showing not telling.
Here are the opening lines from Collin’s Hunger Games:
When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold. My fingers stretch out, seeking Prim’s warmth but finding only the rough canvas cover of the mattress. She must’ve had bad dreams and climbed in with our mother. Of course she did. This is the day of the Reaping.
It’s internal monologue, which is a form of exposition, yet it tells a lot without bludgeoning the reader by being too direct. We infer that they’re poor and cold by the rough canvas mattress cover, and because they have only one bed that they all sleep in for warmth. We know that her little sister, Prim is about to be involved in a horrid event. And we know it’s called The Reaping.
To show not tell is to infer and evoke these aspects rather than say them directly. A less seasoned writer might’ve written: We are horribly poor and have no heat so we all sleep in one bed. My sister’s name got put in the kitty and might be picked today for a very deadly game.
Here’s an example from Kafka’s story about an extreme performance artist who fasts. He’s a mistrustful character, who stays holed up in his cage 24/7 and doesn’t relate to his audience. There’s no dialog until the end, when he’s at the point of death. And then there’s a long stretch of it, including, these lines spoken to the overseer: “I have to fast, I can’t help it,” said the hunger artist... “And why can’t you help it?” “Because,” said the hunger artist, lifting his head a little and speaking with his lips pursed, as if for a kiss, right into the overseer’s ear so that nothing would be missed, “because I couldn’t find the food I liked...”
What can we infer from this passage? A lot! First of all, this is the only dialog in the entire story, and there’s a big chunk of it. Take note when a story changes in style. Also, note that the hunger artist motivates this interaction. We infer that he’s now desperate for human communication. Kafka has a gorgeous action line in here—the hunger artist, struggling up though he’s terribly weak, and pursing his lips as if for a kiss that grazes the overseer’s ear. This is Kafka’s way of evoking intimacy through an action and through a metaphor—the kiss.
A less savvy writer might’ve written: The hunger artist was about to die, and felt desperate for someone to talk to. He whispered stuff in the overseer’s ear.
Finally, here’s a passage from my YA horror, Dorianna where I try to create a huge sense of difference from before and after Dorianna’s making a dangerous vow with a Prince of Darkness:
I’m dizzy. I need fresh air, now. But I want this promise more than anything. Ever. “What’s the price?” I rasp.
Wilson’s stare burns into me. “Can’t say, exactly.” He takes a long breath. “But there always is.” His words are ice and fire. Flutters of snowflakes pattering silently under my skin, that melt into scorching sparks.
I follow an irrepressible urge to stand up, and look down on Wilson with his narrow, feral face and piercings. I need Ander to look at me with that passion, over and over. I need those hater girls put in their place. I need a friend, and for people to want to be with me all of the time, to never, ever be bored—only to love me.
It’s worth any price.
A powerful force in me breaks loose, a flu bug races rampant up my spine. Like when I got hooked into rooting for the Pacers one season—the burn of wanting them to smash their opponents. I had their plastic ball hanging from my window, and concentrated on its hypnotic pendulum as I fell asleep. Team fever.
“Would you . . . give your soul?” Wilson’s whisper invades my gut, my brain.
Ander’s aching gaze from our time at the beach shimmers in front of me. Enticing. I can almost feel his kiss. Like water. Drink it in. I’ve never wanted anything as much as I want this, this . . . “I’d give anything for power, easy youth and beauty.” My voice comes from all around me, spreading, gluey on my skin. “Yes, I’d even give my . . . soul.”
The air spirals into a funnel, draining all oxygen from the room with a hiss. So-, so-, soul. In an instant, new air swoops in, air suffused with rich, delicious minerals. I gulp it in, openmouthed, so very thirsty.
“To be seen and accepted,” I murmur.
Wilson goes head to head with me. “Forget about just being accepted—how about having a following of millions, going viral?”
“Really?” I’m whirling. “Go viral.” Wilson’s promises are golden brands, annointing me, conferring an otherworldly legitimacy I’ve never, ever felt. How does he manage to do this?
Ander returns with the brownies. I luxuriate in the sexy new glint he’s giving me. Who needs sweets when he’s looking at me like that? Is this vow a real thing? Is it already working?
“Something feels different in here,” he mumbles. “It’s colder.” He puts the plate of brownies down and smiles at me. Light flickers red, then gold on Ander’s handsome face as he caresses and infuses me with his body heat.
An unfamiliar power in me swells with precarious danger and weight as I study Ander and Wilson. Abruptly, I’m flung out of my body, inexplicably looking down at them as pitiful peons who will someday worship at my feet.
As two of the very, very many.
Dialog is one of the best ways to show not tell. We learn that Dorianna is in terror of Wilson, yet she’s desperate enough for love and friendship to get past that in order to make a crazy vow. By varying the room temperature, we sense something big just took place. Without me coming out and saying that Dorianna’s now cursed, we know she feels a sudden rush of supremacy through her last internal line because she sees the two guys in totally different ways than before.
Do you have any favorite show don’t tell tips? Which ones do you rely on?
Though my pulse is racing, I continue to take my sweet time passing the table.Artfully, I fling off my jacket to reveal my new black pencil skirt. After Lord & Taylor, I stopped into a Brooklyn Heights boutique. With the rest of the monthly check Mom always sends me, I totally splurged on the pencil skirt. It shows off my curves and legs even more explicitly than the tight yellow dress. I have no intention of being called “out of touch” by Lacey or Ava again. At the last minute, I impulsively lean over to Charlie. “You’re Charlie, right? I know your brother, Wilson.”--
Charlie looks up, startled, his square jaw slack. “Um, who are you?”
“The new girl,” Lacey says, as if that explains everything. As if I was the only new girl in the whole school. “Apparently, New Girl got a face-lift over the weekend. Cut-rate deal?”
Surviving on tea, candy, and burnt toast has made my heart feel as if it’s scraping an escape hatch through my chest cavity with toothpicks.--
I need to get inside a changing room, alone, to wrestle with my demons.
“Freaking W-T-F!” I bleat, and press stop. I cover my face for a long, jarring time. Then, with horrified fascination, I press replay—same bad magic. My fingers tremble as I fumble for Wilson’s number. Texting won’t cut it for this conversation.
“Hello, Dor.” He picks up after just one ring. Expecting me? he doesn't even have to say it out loud.
“Try harder to take those goddamn videos off YouTube,” I splutter. “I’m begging you."
“The videos won’t let me.”
“That’s crazy. They’re not people! Did you write YouTube a help message? Double-check their tutorial on how to delete?”
He sighs. “It’s you. I told you before. The unpredictable magic in you wants them there."
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