Wax, by Gina Damico
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Mystery-Thriller
Rating: ✮✮✮ +½
Yes, the town of Paraffin was a happy place. The grass was green; the streets were clean. The residents were good, wholesome cheese-loving people. They worked hard, they loved their kids, and they greeted every day with a smile. They said hello to one another in passing, and they watered their neighbors’ plants while they were away. They had no reason to distrust their fellow citizens or suspect that they were up to anything heinous, no reason at all.
Until, one day, they did.
Whenever I see that Gina Damico has a new book coming out, I get ridiculously excited. She carved her way into my heart with Croak and has been living in there ever since. I love her sense of humor and her cunning, and how she isn’t afraid to step outside of the box – way, way out of the box.
Seriously, I can name off a dozen books about a fantasy kingdom or a dystopian government, but I can think of only one book about living wax figures, and only one mind that could possibly hold the audacity to create it. Her books are peculiar in a way that almost reaches, “What fresh hell did this spring from,” and to top it off, she makes me laugh almost without trying.
Poppy tried to ignore the costumed musical atrocity that was befalling the food court, but it was not designed to be ignored. A dancing pig dressed in overalls swung his bucket oh so merrily across a raised stage while a trio of cows sang and wiggled their udders. There was also a terrifying anthropomorphic representation of the state of Vermont ambling and cavorting about, his ceaseless, dead stare no doubt sucking the souls from the slack-jawed children who had the misfortune to fall under his tyranny.
THAT IS THE SECOND TIME I’VE READ THAT AND I STILL CAN’T STOP LAUGHING.
I was a bit disappointed with her previous book, Hellhole. It still cracked me up, but there were a lot of loose ends that weren’t tied properly, which left it feeling unfinished. Wax feels complete, with the plot flowing smoothly and all of its ducks in a row. Its structure is different than her previous books, though: not so many highs and lows, twists and turns. Despite the obvious panic that clouds Poppy’s narration throughout, the book as a whole feels mellow in comparison…something that I’m not used to from Gina Damico. It’s almost like she traded in some of her signature spark for a more balanced book.
Overall, I enjoyed Wax more than I did Hellhole – marginally. I’m still waiting for that feeling I had in Croak to come back, when I was bursting with so much emotion – both joy and sheer terror – that trying to stay composed while reading in public was impossible. I hope that her next book – which is about a reality show in space – will bring that back to me, because it’s a force to be reckoned with.