Friday, November 19, 2010

Draw the Dark by Ilsa J. Bick

Draw the Dark (Carolrhoda Ya)
Draw has multiple meanings here: to draw in the artistic way, to draw out memory, and to make something come to you. 

Christian has long been an artist, and long had an idea about a strange land called the sideways place. The sideways place is on his mind more and more, especially after he draws Nazi symbols on a barn in Wisconsin while sleepwalking. At unexpected times, Christian is other people in the past, trying to solve a 1940s mystery about an affair/using WWII prisoners of war as cheap labor/a union dispute/a dead infant/a murder, and sometimes, he’s other people right now. If the whole town thinks he’s a crazy delinquent, does he have a chance of finding out why people have been disappearing? Does he have a chance of figuring out his own life?

I enjoyed Draw the Dark by Ilsa J. Bick (Carolrhoda YA), but I suspect that the whole time I was reading, I really just wished for the mystery of the story to stand alone without supernatural elements--it was compelling in its own right--and I suspect that this wasn't a good match for me as a reader. I felt that the book was a little ponderous, and that the story threads didn't braid together in a way that kept things flowing. Beware also: HIPPA does not seem to exist in this universe. YA horror fans and mystery fans, however, have got a hefty speculative history read to immerse in. Pair this with Bleeding Violet for two scary books that address ideas of sanity and reality.

I read this book as a first-round judge for the Cybils Awards, which means that I may have received a review copy from the publisher (or not; I own a lot of the books in this category). I read some books nominated for the YA fantasy and science fiction category in 2010 before the nomination period, and may have already reviewed them or declined to make a public review; these books might not have a Cybils post tag. As a first-round judge, I was tasked with helping create a shortlist of books. My personal reviews do not reflect any actions or discussions of the judging committee. 


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