Saturday, August 20, 2011

Review: Graveminder by Melissa Marr

Rebekkah Barrow never forgot the tender attention her grandmother, Maylene, bestowed upon the dead of Claysville, the town where Bek spent her adolescence. There wasn't a funeral that Maylene didn't attend, and at each Rebekkah watched as Maylene performed the same unusual ritual: three sips from a small silver flask followed by the words "Sleep well, and stay where I put you."

Now Maylene is dead and Bek must go back to the place--and the man--she left a decade ago. But what she soon discovers is that Maylene was murdered and that there was good reason for her odd traditions. It turns out that in placid Claysville, the worlds of the living and the dead are dangerously connected. Beneath the town lies a shadowy, lawless land ruled by the enigmatic Charles, aka Mr. D--a place from which the dead will return if their graves are not properly minded. Only the Graveminder, a Barrow woman, and the current Undertaker, Byron, can set things to right once the dead begin to walk.

Graveminder is Melissa Marr’s foray into adult literature after the conclusion of her successful young adult series Wicked Lovely.  Marr has great ideas, and I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into juicy, complex story lines. 

The story opens with a creepy scene that’s so riveting I couldn’t read it fast enough. Maylene Barrow, Claysville’s graveminder, meets a very disturbing seventeen-year-old girl in town and invites her home. Maylene is later found dead. Her granddaughter Rebekkah returns to Claysville for the funeral with plans to leave as soon as possible, but she finds out she’s the next graveminder. Claysville is suddenly like Hotel California: she can check out any time she likes, but she can never leave. 
I wanted to like this story because conceptually it sounded interesting, but Rebekkah is an annoying character. She’s manipulative and immature, and her long history of using Byron makes her unsympathetic.  She contradicts herself (with internal dialogue) entirely too much, to the point of reader distraction.  Byron appears weak, pining for a woman that continually does him wrong.

Although Marr does a good job of revving up suspense, I kept getting jerked out of the story by deep point of view italics, poor editing and unbelievable behavior. Since I wasn't lost in the story, I began analyzing everything and therefore became much less forgiving of things I’d otherwise overlook. 

Marr overuses the technique of showing her characters thoughts with italics. It’s essential for readers to get this character insight, but Rebekkah questions and contradicts herself so much she appears mental. 

I go all fussy britches with weird names or strange spelling variations. It's fine if they fit the story setting, but doing this just to be creative annoys me. (When Harry Potter first came out, I wouldn’t read it because I didn’t know how to pronounce Hermione. Stupid, I know but I can’t help it). I’ve never seen the name Rebekkah spelled this way, and it's often shortened to Beks in the story.  Don’t love it, but I’ll go with it. Byron is shortened to B, Alicia becomes Lish (shoot me), and Charles is Mr. D. I mustn't forget Daisha and Amity Blue. 
Marr’s narrative can sometimes be messy, and the overuse of fragmented sentences was irritating. Character’s behave like adolescents and the story reads very much like a young adult novel. I was disappointed in the simplicity of it. The ending felt rushed with information awkwardly crammed into the last few chapters. The best part of the story is the initial scene, and Marr's concept of the underworld. 

For the concept of the underworld, and maintaining suspense, I'll be generous with my rating:
Don't let me discourage you from reading this book. Many people liked it, and it's been optioned for a television series. If it comes to fruition, I'll definitely check out the television series because the underworld is intriguing, and much more interesting than what goes on above ground. I'm sure the television series will be popular with fans of AMCs The Walking Dead.  


  1. I really want to read this one. I haven't read much by Melissa Marr but the book sounded good. Thanks for the review!

  2. Oh, I'm so glad I found your blog! I felt exactly the same way about this book. Rebekkah annoyed me as well and Marr's writing style kept getting in the way of the story. I really wanted to like it too but just couldn't finish.

  3. I've read the Wicked Lovely books, but Melissa Marr's writing never impressed me much. However, this plot does sound interesting...might have to give it a go, but I cannot stand badly written books.

  4. I agree with you Stephanie, I tried, I truely did to like this book. Loved the cover, loved the description of the book.
    I did not like ANY of the characters, I also become so irritated by the way the author beat to death the supposed love story. The entire book all 324 pages is nothing more than a repeat of every theme, concept and situation you have read about in the previous chapters. There is nothing spooky,creepy or unsettling about this book.(per reviews on back of book) I don't mean to be harsh in my review but this was listed as an "adult book" and I would without a doubt say that this book at best is a "young adult/teen" book. I did not really feel like I gained anything by reading this book and I would not recommend it to anyone.


Thanks for the feedback. Be well, and happy reading!

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