Review: Dark Song by Gail Giles

Title: Dark Song
Author: Gail Giles
Publisher: Little, Brown BFYR
Pub. Date: 9.7.2010
Genre: Contemporary YA
Keywords: Manipulation, Family, Relationships, Lies, Secrets
Pages: 304
Description (from GoodReads):
Mark said he heard the dark song when he creeped houses. The song the predator’s heart sings when it hears the heart of the prey. I heard it now. Mark said it had always been in me. Lurking. Waiting for me to hear.

Ames is not the person she was a few months ago. Her father lost his job, and her family is crumbling apart. Now, all she has is Marc. Marc, who loves her more than anything. Marc, who owns a gun collection. And he’ll stop at nothing–even using his guns–to get what he wants. Ames feels her parents have betrayed her with their lies and self-absorption, but is she prepared to make the ultimate betrayal against them?

Gail Giles’ DARK SONG is not a horror novel, but it is one of the scariest novels I’ve ever read. It wasn’t ghosts or ghouls that kept my eyes from closing, it was the idea of a girl being so easily manipulated by such a creepy, sinister man.

I had a difficult time with the main character. Ames’ is in turmoil… her parents, who she blindly trusted, have been keeping some huge secrets and she lashes out in response. I understand this to a point, but I felt like she just took it too far. As far as I could tell, her biggest loss was her lifestyle, which would be a shock, but not impossible to adapt to. I expected more from her, not only because she’s a young adult, but because she’s an older sister. She felt deeply betrayed, I get that,  but, in my mind, it doesn’t excuse her reckless, immature behavior, especially when it put her sister at risk.

I think it’s natural – and important – that I didn’t like Ames, but it worries me that I still lacked any positive regard for her by the end of the novel. Perhaps this was due, in part, to my unwillingness to believe that a girl could be so easily played. The realist within knows that this scenario has happened in real life, but it’s a terrifying thought. Ames is, in part, a victim, but I cannot bring myself to sympathize.

Marc’s character was remarkably well written. His manipulation of Ames is clear to the reader, but Ames is completely oblivious. It was horrifying to watch the story unfold… to see just how close Ames comes to giving into his twisted idea of right and wrong. I wanted to believe she’d break free of his control, but I wasn’t sure she would have the strength. 

It was Marc, and his ability to make my skin crawl, that made DARK SONG memorable. It isn’t something I’d reread – I’m not sure I can actually bring myself to witness the story again – but I don’t regret reading it and I’d be willing to read more by Giles in the future.

Review Copy provided by publisher.

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