Long time geek, fangirl, mother, and reader. I've got a lot to say, you might not like it all, but it will be honest and hopefully helpful.
Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Trigger Warnings: This book has graphic, gory depictions of physical and psychological torture. There is a ton of ableist slurs in reference to mental illness. Some problematic portrayals of the main character’s mental state and a bit of internalized misogyny.
At first I was intrigued by this book. The opening of the story is dark and heavy on visceral horror, giving it a the gritty feel of a modern horror movie (like Hostel or Saw). Which puts it more into the Urban Fantasy genre, than Paranormal or Super Hero genres. This story is all about the ugly, dirty bits. Almost to the point that it felt like it kept wanting to shock me, over and over, which isn’t necessarily an issue. However, since I didn’t know any of the characters or stakes in the story it is in fact completely gratuitous. Where I should be given insight and empathy into who Verity is, I got what she is with no real depth.
Because of that, I couldn’t finish the book because I just didn’t care about any of the characters or the story. While I liked the super creepy feel of the opening the narrative lost all its nuanced charm once Verity got home to her brother, Adonis. Seriously, these are the actual names of the characters not super hero personas and that’s at once hilarious and deeply disappointing.
The already slow pace of the story regularly comes to a screeching halt for random pockets of info dumping. Worse, none of the information was all that interesting or original.
I can see where the idea for this story came from, and how the characters and set up took shape. My biggest problem, which I own as a personal preference and expectation of the Super Hero genre, is the story lacks the fundamental qualities of what super heroes/vignette crime fighters are and why I personally find them appealing . It’s a lot of themes and tropes of the genre piled into big mess of ideas that end up contradicting each other and making no sense.
Verity is part of a group of pretty, privileged, crime fighters who also have special powers that make them outsiders in society. So they hide in plain sight as super heroes? Rich, Of course they’re rich and in the public eye. OF COURSE!
Never mind that Verity never explains exactly why she is a crime fighter, nor does she actually you know FIGHT CRIME. It’s just the family business, along with a multimillion dollar corporation that does or makes what? I don’t know. Like crime fighting, I guess it isn’t an important detail.
Honestly, all of these things could have worked. I mean they’re all plucked directly from comic books and shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The difference between those stories and this book is they have enough world building to make all of wackiness believable. Scorched doesn’t really having any tangible world building.
It props up some cardboard thin, vaguely familiar settings and ideas around boring cliche characters that are equally underdeveloped. Which leaves the reader doing all the heavy lifting when it comes to buying into the world and characters. That’s a way too much work for any reader, much less an impatient one like me.
Maybe if I had stuck in there a little longer it would have all made sense. Maybe if I could have just slogged through all the boring overwrought descriptions and unnecessarily details descriptions of Verities mental trauma. Maybe there’s something amazing, buried in this story that would redeem it for me. But I’m never going to know because the lazy world building and slow pacing bored me to sleep before I could get to it.
Overall, I’m just so disappointed. I really wanted to like this book, but I just couldn’t.