Friday, June 12, 2015

Book Review: Phantom (Dark Musicals #1) by Laura DeLuca

I went through a stage of my life, right before college, where I was absolutely obsessed with Phantom of the Opera. It started with the movie that had Gerard Butler as the Phantom which led to reading the original novel, then Phantom by Susan Kay, and eventually having the pleasure of watching the musical on Broadway a couple of times.

I wanted a new interpretation of the novels with a high school twist, a character just as distorted and flawed as Erik but with more modern problems. I wanted the beauty of the prose of Susan Kay's Phantom with the wonderful storytelling of Gaston Leroux's Phantom of the Opera but in the end, I was more disappointed than a child opening a Cracker Jack box and there not being a toy inside. 

First: the blurb from Goodreads since I'm not going to bother writing one
The “Phantom” was a musical phenomenon that Rebecca had always found enchanting. She had no idea that her life was about to mirror the play that was her obsession. When her high school drama club chooses “Phantom” as their annual production, Rebecca finds herself in the middle of an unlikely love triangle and the target of a sadistic stalker who uses the lines from the play as their calling card. 
Rebecca lands the lead role of Christine, the opera diva, and like her character, she is torn between her two co-stars—Tom the surfer and basketball star who plays the lovable hero, and Justyn, the strangely appealing Goth who is more than realistic in the role of the tortured artist. 
Almost immediately after casting, strange things start to happen both on and off the stage. Curtains fall. Mirrors are shattered. People are hurt in true phantom style. They all seem like accidents until Rebecca receives notes and phone calls that hint at something more sinister. Is Justyn bringing to life the twisted character of the phantom? Or in real life are the roles of the hero and the villain reversed? Rebecca doesn’t know who to trust, but she knows she’s running out of time as she gets closer and closer to opening night. Only when the mask is stripped away, will the twenty first century phantom finally be revealed.
 Alright...I should have known better from the blurb.

I am pretty much over most high school drama, mostly because my experience was incredibly different from a lot of these characters' that you read these days. I went to a small school with a graduating class of 55. Most of us were in the same classes for 8 years together so you sort of learn to live in harmony. Are other high schools this horrible where kids are attacking each other in the hallway and there are catfights and challenges being thrown about like confetti?

Anyways, Rebecca is one of those girls who has never done anything special in her life and then suddenly decides to try out for the main role of her favorite musical. She (of course) lands the role of a lifetime with Christine and she thinks that she connects to the character in a special way. After all, she has spent her life in the high school equivalent of the chorus dancers, staying out of the way and trying not to do anything to gather attention but she can't pass up this opportunity.

So she gets the role, pisses off the popular girl, gets the popular boy Tom to finallyOMG notice her and then the creepy goth guy shows up and steals all of attention. Justyn has a beautiful voice but a tendency towards lurking in the corners and singing lines from the musical to her. Carmen and Debbie, her best friends, think that he's strange and urge Rebecca to stay away from him but she can't resist him and finds herself drawn to him.

Tom, who is supposed to be the basketball player who surfs with an awesome voice is the most over done character I've seen in my life. He's supposed to be perfect and blonde and pretty and oh wait...

I've seen this character before somewhere! I wonder where...

Moving onto Justyn. The goth boy with inconsistent character descriptions. He was originally described with facial piercings, eyeliner and black lipstick. He wears fishnet shirts and chains on his boots. Now, with my obsession over KPOP, I've gotten over most reservations about guyliner but the black lipstick is too much. There was some hazing at my college where the girls in sororities made the pledges wear black lipstick so if they made out with a guy at a party, everybody would know. Sorry, but black lipstick + making out + creepy character role = taking it too far. 

And he loves his cape and takes every opportunity to hide in the corner and lurk. He takes himself too seriously and fucking calls himself LORD JUSTYN I SHIT YOU NOT

Not only that, but randomly the author decides to insert that he is Wiccan into the plot. It does nothing to further the plot but seems to be there just to make him a little bit more different and make it so that his mother won't take him to the hospital when he breaks his ribs. I'm all for natural healing but I'm speaking from personal experience that when you break your ribs, it fucking hurts. It is difficult to sleep, especially if you break them on your side and a little bit of willow bark tea is not going to help much as far as pain scale goes. Take him to the hospital and get him some decent medication and treatment so the boy can sleep!


Want some quotes? Well, you're getting them anyways. Prepare yourself...

"Why are you so nervous, Becca?" Carmen Webber asked. "You've got to be the only person in the school who's had the entire script memorized since kindergarten. Besides, you have an amazing voice. You're going to be fine. Really!"
 I hate teenybopper pep talks, especially as an introduction. Off to a bad start.

"He's the stagehand the Phantom kills right before the intermission. He gets hung."
 Being hung is something completely different than being hanged. I get that they're in high school but the editor should have caught that.
"I'm not the one who's been upstaged by some usurping loser from the geek squad."
 Ahahahaha...I miss insults like these. It's like all the old teen movies are coming back to laugh at the modern world.

"The phantom always used a noose to kill his victims."
 No...he used a Punjab lasso that was utilized like a garrote. Educate yourself.
"I can't believe you two would actually read that dribble on purpose."
 This is dribbling. The word you are looking for is drivel.
"I've put up with your crap for long enough, Wendy. The jibes. The looks. The nasty comments. Well, I've had it. It stops now. I got the role of Christine. I have the better voice. And you have been upstaged. Get over it and get on with your life. Being a bitch isn't going to change things."
 Ugh, sassy standing up for yourself is soooooooo two thousand and late.
"His one cataract eye was oblique and almost glowing"
 Did you even try to edit this thing? Your eye can't be oblique. Cataracts can make your eyes opaque though.
"Willow bark is just a plant."
No, it is the bark off of a willow tree which is where aspirin is derived from. As stated earlier, if you have fallen and broken your ribs, you are going to want a little bit more than some diluted aspirin tea.
"I heard he hung himself in the bathroom stall."
 HANGED. He hanged himself. You can't "hung" yourself. It is grammatically incorrect and therefore impossible.

All of this is before even considering the plot, which felt like it was *insert yourself here* fanfiction. Rebecca has no obvious flaws besides being so stupid that you wonder who ties her shoelaces every morning. Her friends are bitchy and have an opinion about everybody and everything. Debbie is described as the scary Amazon (which I personally take offense to) and doesn't stand up for herself through the entire book. Tom and Justyn fighting over her is the most played out plot line ever and the bitchy horrible Wendy is the most stereotypical mean girl I've ever seen.

I honestly cannot fathom how this thing is rated so high on Goodreads. A 4.05? Are you fucking kidding me? The author can't even call the musical by its proper name, doesn't credit the quotes that she used correctly and spells Andrew Lloyd Webber's name incorrectly at the start of the book. For a fan of Phantom of the Opera, it sucked at being a good tribute to the work.

There are two redeeming qualities from this book. The plot twist was unexpected (but not well written). I can honestly say it surprised me. The other is that it has made me want to find some good Phantom of the Opera literature and reread Phantom and the original novel.

So skip this one. Don't come near it. I've more than warned you. If you are an avid fan of Phantom of the Opera you will be excessively disappointed.

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