Published by Amazon Genres: Dark Romance
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I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
ItÔÇÖs September when good girl Via Sorenson stumbles into a Seattle strip club, drunk and alone on her twenty-first birthday. Matt and NickÔÇöbest friends, bandmates, and bouncersÔÇödo their best to shield her from their sadistic cocaine-trafficking boss, Carlos. They donÔÇÖt realize her daddy issues come with a forty-million-dollar trust fund and a legacy she would do anything to escape.
She is actually Violetta Rabbotino, who had been all over the news ten years earlier when her father, an acclaimed abstract artist, came home in a rage, murdered her mother, then turned the gun on himself. Young Violetta was spared, hidden behind the family Christmas tree, veiled by the mysticism of its pretty lights whose unadulterated love captivated and calmed her.
Now, desperate to shed her role as orphaned victim, Via stage dives into a one-hundred-day adventure with Matt and Nick, the bassist and drummer of popular nineties cover band Obliviot. The rock-and-roll lifestyle is the perfect distractionÔÇöuntil she is rattled by true love. As Christmas looms closer, her notorious past becomes undeniable. How will she ever untangle herself from her twisted string of pretty lights?
To say this book took me by surprise is a gross understatement. Please Pretty Lights was one of those reads that left me squirming and yet gleeful that I finally had finally taken the time to read it. I was so uncomfortable while reading it and I stayed in a highly alert state in anticipation of what ÔÇ£couldÔÇØ be coming. The story of Via ( Violatti) Sorenson is at times hard to digest. Via spends 10 years burying the memory of the night she lost her parents, and in less than 4 months she manages to complete a 180-degree turn in the path of her life, in the face of what appears to be to the people who thought they knew her. She changes course so radically itÔÇÖs hard to know if you should root for her break-away or wish she would have stayed on Vashon Island.
Via is living a religious based lifestyle, sans her fianc├® who is off on a missionary type of trip, when she goes off the deep end. As sheÔÇÖs making her mistakes, I found myself cringing and pacing and hoping she wouldnÔÇÖt take it too far, take it one step beyond, and it seems she always does. If it could go bad for Via, it did.
The story keeps a steady pace as we watch Via transform from seemingly good girl to one intent on self-destruction. The story starts in September with Via cognizant of the countdown to the December anniversary of her parents death. As we watch her transform, we are also given glances of what she experienced as a child that gives us context to her mental and emotional state. The story is told through not only ViaÔÇÖs POV, but from also those of Matt and Nick, two young men she bonds with as part of her September birthday bender. As ViaÔÇÖs life and those of Nick and especially MattsÔÇÖ further entwine, ViaÔÇÖs develops self-destructive habits that have horrific consequences. Not all is bad as during this time, Via is also falling in love and finding herself, but itÔÇÖs an odd transformation. I was happy to see her get out from under the thumb of her fianc├®ÔÇÖs life, his choices, but Via remains utterly confused in what she is doing. The four months between her birthday and her ÔÇ£d-dayÔÇØ are fogged over with ViaÔÇÖs denial is a reflection of the endorphins sheÔÇÖs experiencing by falling in love, or by the shame she feels at living 2 opposing lives , or by her newly formed drug habit. Via was a surprise to me. At times, I thought she was smart and strong and had a path for independence well plotted, but the author uses Via to show us just how horribly wrong everything goes when drug addiction is in the mix.
Matt and Nick, our main secondary characters and the other point of views used to tell the story, are pretty straightforward, they are who we think they are and all actions are true to character. One inspiring character is that of Nicks grandmother, Grandma Daney. She serves to offer up great advice to Via, words that I found utterly grounding:
ÔÇ£This life isnÔÇÖt everything, you know. DonÔÇÖt take it all so seriously. Have fun.ÔÇÖ
ÔÇ£Yes, we are all spiritual beings, having human experiences. Remember,
you are eternal. This is just the life you are having.ÔÇÖ ÔÇ£
In contrast, we also are introduced to one of the Carlos is one of the most deplorable characters that IÔÇÖve read, and a major player in ViaÔÇÖs downfall. Carlos is truly despicable and I found that all scenes including him gave me anxiety. He is evil incarnate and yet Via someone ignores all the warnings. Nevertheless, the story was so engrossing I had to keep going. Beware, its violent and ugly and desperately sad, portraying yet another change in direction in ViaÔÇÖs life.
The author does an amazing job depicting the seedy underworld based in a Strip club in Seattle. Via finds herself caught up in two worlds, one she is pulling away from and one that seems more true to her inherent love of the creative. SheÔÇÖs been sheltered by her fianc├® and his family, and has been living life as others tell her. However, her departure to the gritty underworld is just an extension of this. What she craves is independence but the entire time she is developing darker dependencies. When the inevitable occurs, when Via allows it to go too far it is utterly heart wrenching.
Please Pretty Lights is plotted to perfection, IÔÇÖm in awe of the authorÔÇÖs technique, storytelling, including dialogue that is seemingly realistic, and everything I would expect to come from the lifestyle being written about. This was one of those reads where all interruptions are ignored and only bio breaks were tolerated. What makes this a 5 star book is the way this story is executed and how it made me feel, uncomfortable and unhappy, and yet hopeful. This looks to be the first published by Ina Zajac, IÔÇÖll definitely be on the lookout for future stories and Ms. Zajac has gained a fan. I highly recommend this book to all.
~ Review by Cyndi
(Review originally posted on TBE)