Right away I wanted to like this book, and I have to admit, when it came to living up to every expectation, it delivered. Sort of. Problem is, it delivered a little too perfectly. Every time I got to a part where I wanted something as a reader ("gee, I really want to know what Grams thinks of all this..." or "What's Seth been up to during this scene?") bam! Marr would hit me with the answer in the next scene. I felt like I was reading this as a piece from workshop and Marr was anticipating every possible critique I could make.
There's a fine line between a book that fills a reader's expectations and one that is predictable. Wicked Lovely skirts that line throughout. There was a bit of a lull in the middle when it became very clear to that there was no "easy" way for the central conflict to be resolved. This meant I had to keep reading in order to figure out exactly how Marr was going to paint herself out of this corner. Thing is, making a reader keep reading just so they find out how the author resolves the conflict means the reader's focusing on the mechanics, not the story or the characters. This is not entirely a good thing. Also, the inevitability of the central conflict--the fact that there was no solution--meant that the plot slowed down. After all, there's only so many times a character can think "there's no way out of this situation" before the reader says "I get it. Now get over it and get to the point."
Also, the way Marr always seems to know just when the reader needs something (a nugget of one character, a hint of a plot thread) means that I never felt like she was holding out on me. There's something comfortable about a book that always delivers and in a way, that comfort worked against this novel. For example, at the end, during a somewhat gruesome scene, I read the words but I didn't feel the characters' agony because I was so used to being in that comfort zone. Marr did such a good job of making me comfortable as a reader that the book lost its edge. I know this book is supposed to be dark and edgy with scary-looking fey and characters that have lots of piercings and live in steel train cars, but while my brain registered these details, I didn't feel them.
I wanted this book to push me outside my comfort zone--to mess with my head a little--and it never quite went there. When it comes to a good, comfy read, this book does exactly what it should. It pleases because it's predictably edgy and conventionally unconventional. The characters are complex enough to be interesting but not complicated enough to make the reader confuse the good guys from the bad. We know from the get-go who's coupling up and who's going down in the big show-down. All we need is to find out how the author plans to get there. This is not a challenging book, but it's a fun, entertaining read... good for summer and the beach.