Review: A Darkly Beating Heart by Lindsay Smith

Collaborative feature with Alexa. We read ARCs together and post our reviews on the same date.

A Darkly Beating Heart by Lindsay Smith
pub 10/25/16 by Roaring Brook Press
YA - Fantasy / Time Travel
Received ARC from pub
Plot • Reiko is angry. About a relationship gone wrong, her family, her suicide attempt. Her parents send her to Japan in the hopes that a summer away will help her face her issues. While there, she visits a historic village called Kuramagi and finds herself traveling back in time to 19th century Japan to embody Miyu, a young woman with inner rage very much like Reiko’s. We flip back and forth between past and present but increasingly spend more time in the past as Reiko prefers being Miyu. But it becomes clear that Miyu has an agenda of her own and soon Reiko is forced to face both of their demos.

Characters • I couldn’t connect to a single character. Whether it was Reiko herself or her family and “friends” in Japan, there wasn’t enough time spent developing the characters enough to feel like real people. Reiko is just all anger and while we find out the causes for it, they’re told in flashbacks that felt like after thoughts. Then her immediate family played an important role in her current circumstances but they’re not in the book at all, which I thought was odd. Even her extended family. The one cousin who was a part of her life was a superficial caricature and an awful person. Reiko did have a sort-of guy friend that I liked but he wasn’t in the book much. Plus even when Reiko was Miyu, we never really get to know her either. Basically — not enough character development.

Writing • This is the third Lindsay Smith book that’s fell short for me (I DNFed her previous book). I think she has very interesting stories to tell and I like how diverse her characters and settings are. I really do! But there just always seems to be something missing in the writing to truly hook me.

Overall feelings • It was okay. Again, I appreciate the diversity in this story and I think the overall concept was interesting but I wasn’t a fan of the execution.

What's your favorite anime? • Fushigi Yuugi. I loved that anime when I first watched it in high school but two years ago, Alexa and I decided to re-watch it and I fell even more in love with it as an adult. I guess some of the details had faded away (plus I don't think I ever finished it). But as a adult, I saw how mature the story was and how wonderful all the characters are (Tamahome and Miaka!). It's definitely my fave.

1 comment

  1. I love that we picked the same anime! It's SO good, isn't it? And it's so tragic, but also funny and so worth watching (repeatedly). Also, I totally see what you're saying about A Darkly Beating Heart! It fell short for me too, but I think I might have enjoyed it a smidgen more than you did ;)


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