Series: Blood for Blood #1
Published by Chicken House Ltd. on February 24th, 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
When it comes to revenge, love is a dangerous complication.With a fierce rivalry raging between two warring families, falling in love is the deadliest thing Sophie could do. An epic debut set outside modern-day Chicago.
When five brothers move into the abandoned mansion in her neighbourhood, Sophie Gracewell's life changes forever. Irresistibly drawn to bad boy Nicoli, Sophie finds herself falling into a criminal underworld governed by powerful families. As the boys' dark secrets begin to come to light, Sophie is confronted with stinging truths about her own family, too. She must choose between two warring dynasties - the one she was born into, and the one she is falling in love with. When she does, blood will spill and hearts will break.
Excuse this swoony, patriotic review, but Catherine Doyle’s debut Vendetta is a piece of hot danger and my girly hormones are all over the place. This book is a trashy YA version of Romeo and Juliet meets The Godfather, and it has brought forth one of my favourite fictional crushes of all time. (In case you can’t tell after I’ll have mentioned his name 1’000’000 in this review, his name is Luca and he’s mine).
Mi è piaciuto (It.: I liked): Vendetta is the epitome of a guilty pleasure read that operates with clichés but somehow manages to completely mesmerize you nonetheless. The plot is a fast-paced ride featuring Sophie and five Sicilian brothers. Though Sophie is a plain character and somewhat clueless at times, her point of view is likeable for realistic fiction. She’s neither completely weak nor badass, though she certainly has her moments. Her self-esteem is rather low but it is not overdone the way I’ve seen in other YA books (where you’ll hear the heroine say over and over and over how truly ugly she is, boo hoo). To my great surprise and joy, she proves to be a fierce, brave, and loyal character towards the ending, and I truly appreciate her character growth. Mousy Sophie isn’t completely gone but she has developed a backbone, which she’ll put to good use in the sequel. In addition, I love the emphasis on strong female friendships. Sophie’s and Millie’s friendship is beautiful, I can’t put it any other way. Vendetta ended on a good note, with tension but no cliffhanger. It goes without saying that I loved the amount of Italian swearing in this book – felt like home. Also have I mentioned how much I adore Luca? I haven’t? Good, because I need to gush about that hot cinnamon roll. Luca is everything I’ve ever wanted in a male contemporary lead. He’s that dark, brooking dude you absolutely know is hiding a precious soft kitty behind that mask of stone, and I must have him. I’m Luca trash, I really am.
Non mi è piaciuto (It.: I didn’t like): Vendetta‘s weakest spot, in my opinion, was character depth. Save for one (guess who?), the boys are pretty generic characters. Nic and Luca – Lucaaa – are more prominent throughout the book than Dom and Gino, which was fine by me, as those two have the personalities of tea spoons. Doyle just scraped at the surface with most of the characters, even the female lead. The short stories published to bridge the gap, however, brought some insight (for example, that one of the boys is gay). As a lot of YA contemporaries do, this book skidded past insta-love by a very, very thin margin. Further, the background on the Sicilian mafia could have been more extensive (and also more correct!) but I guess the book’s a love story foremost, not a history book. I had to cut back my expectations regarding this point, though the sequel does considerably better with the mafia info.
So, from an objective point of view, I’d give Vendetta a solid 3-star rating for completely hooking me despite the issues I have. But the 50% of me that are Sicilian are making me add half a star due to finally-some-YA-featuring-the-Sicilian-mafia swoons. Ok, I’ll admit it… and a little bit because of Luca, my mafioso dreamboat.