Bites

14544Published: July 1, 1992
Publisher: Scholastic
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

Venom.

Dove doesn’t want to buy the perfume. She doesn’t like its scent. And its name frightens her.

But somehow she can’t help herself. It’s almost as if something–or someone–inside her is forcing her to try it.

Dove was always a nice person, a sweet and gentle girl on whom friends could rely.

Until now.

Because when Dove puts on the perfume, she unleashes a part of herself that has been locked away all her life.

It is a second self she never knew existed.

And it is Evil.  (goodreads.com)

THE PERFUME started off as a flowery mess of Dove getting existential about not wanting to go into a particular store in the mall because it was giving her bad juju or something.  The book levels out somewhere around the halfway point when Dove kind of starts to lose her mind and then you start questioning whether she really is or not.  That’s where it finally gets interesting.  Unfortunately that’s pretty close to the end of the book.

For most of the book the actual perfume is kept in the background and the focus is on Dove’s vanished twin coming back to life inside of her.  The smell of this Venom perfume triggers Wing, the scorned head twin, to emerge while calmer, soothing smells sends her back into Dove’s abyss brain.  The concept is kind of strange and the way the perfume gets into Dove’s hands is just really contrived: a perfume that gets yanked after a matter of days sold in a store that disappears after Dove buys it (when she never wanted to go into that store anyway but she was COMPELLED to buy the stuff) and the insanity ensues.  Really I wasn’t thrilled with the beginning.

Once the story settled into itself it got a little psychological and I like that in my horror.  You start to question whether Wing  is a separate entity or whether Dove really does have a split personality (kind of like Session 9, if you’ve ever seen that movie, came after this book was published, by maybe ten years).  That part I really liked because as a reader it really throws me off and it makes me question everything that’s happening but not in an unreliable narrator sort of way.  Here even the narrator didn’t know what was happening, what was real and what wasn’t for a time, so it added a level of anxiety to the story that amped up the stakes.

There were references to Egypt that I wasn’t sure were relevant.  It was intoned that Wing was possibly some ancient being from Egyptian times and she got her power from the glass pyramid in the mall but whether she was that or really Dove’s vanished twin is never confirmed.  The concept is neat but it just seemed kind of messy how it was applied within the story.

Overall it had its creepy moments but I felt it tried to get really artsy at the beginning there and it threw me off for the story.  It was a bit overly dramatic without much explanation and it set the tone for the rest of the book and it didn’t really match.  I did end up liking the story because of the weird psychological place it went to but the perfume itself was mostly a non-entity in its own story.  I’ll chalk that one up to poor titling.  Of course the perfume did have it’s use but for a book of the same title it didn’t live up.  I still think THE PERFUME was better than a good amount of the old school YA horror books I’ve read because it did delve a little deeper into some mysticism and gave me better characters and a pretty decent story but it had a tendency of getting ahead of itself and it would jar me out of it.  It’s okay, though.

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