Title: Dark Eyes (Dark Eyes #1)
Author: William Richter
Wallis Stoneman was born in Russia and adopted by a wealthy family in New York City. Beautiful and rebellious, she trades a life of privilege for the gritty streets of Manhattan. She knows nothing of her childhood in Russia. Those years are lost forever.
Now Wally is sixteen and hardened, and she has just stumbled across a harrowing secret that will change her life forever: Wally’s roots are deadly She’s the daughter of Klesko, a notorious Russian gangster who’s just broken out of prison. Klesko is searching for the fortune Wally’s mother stole from him long ago, and he’ll stop at nothing to find it.
Can wall find – and save – her mother before Klesko kills them both?
I’m not sure exactly what made me pick up this book. Dark Eyes is one of those books that I saw a while ago, thought, “that looks interesting,” and promptly forgot about. Then during my last trip to the library, it somehow ended up on my pile.
Wally was okay, as far as characters go. She was tough and smart and a great leader with a pretty big stubborn streak, which are traits I love in a character. But she was also a trespasser, thief, and seller of stolen goods, which put her a few notches lower in my estimation.
The rest of her gang – Tevin, Ella, and Jake – were okay characters. They had their good points (Ella, especially, was really sweet), but since they didn’t have a lot of page time, the bad (thievery, breaking and entering, and Ella and Jake sleeping together) outweighed the good.
The plot was honestly what made me finish this book. There’s so many bits and pieces to it, it was like a giant puzzle that I wanted to figure out. (There were even some scenes showing what Klesko was up to, which kept me hoping Wally would stay ahead of him – not because I particularly liked her, but because I hated him.) Wally finding her mother doesn’t sound hugely complicated, but considering how many dead ends, criminal acts, and murders it takes to get there, it was.
A tiny little detail that bugged me, and really shouldn’t have been that much of an issue, was the whole Russian thing. Wally was adopted from Russia. Her family is Russian. And it seemed like every other page, it was Russian this and Russian that. Personally, I didn’t think the family’s nationality should have been that big of a deal.
What really killed it for me was the ending. There was far too much unnecessary violence in the climax, but what I really hated was that Wally ended up in a worse place than when the book started. I realize this isn’t a happy-go-lucky story, but I had hoped her situation would be at least slightly improved.
Considering how harshly this book got graded, I probably shouldn’t have even finished it. But I did, mainly out of a mild curiosity to find out how Wally came out of it, and was disappointed. I didn’t know this going in, but there’s a sequel to Dark Eyes, Tiger – which I do not intend to ever read.
The Dark Eyes series:
- Dark Eyes
For more on my grading system, check out this page.