Dark Blue by Melody Carlson
True Colors # 1
Publisher: Th1nk / NavPress
Number of pages: 196
My copy: paperback, bought from Bestsellers
Kara Hendricks and Jordan Ferguson have been best friends since kindergarten. That is until Jordan started hanging out with a new “cool” crowd and decided Kara was a popularity liability.
Devastated, Kara feels betrayed and abandoned by everyone—even God. Yet for all the hurt and insecurity, these dark blue days contain a life-changing secret. Kara has the chance to discover something about herself that she never knew before.
* * *
I’ve been curious about Melody Carlson’s True Colors series back when I first saw them during the Manila International Book Fair. However, because of my series completion compulsion back then, I never got it. For one thing, there are about 12 books in the series, and another, I couldn’t find the first book. Whenever I do find the first book, I feel like maybe I should get the next one too, so I skip on buying it. Until I finally got a copy during one of the sales I went to last year.
The True Colors series is a set of Christian-themed books for teens that tackle issues that teens deal with everyday: family, friendships, drugs, sexuality, body image and more. The stories are ideally written for the Christian market, but it is also supposed to be readable by non-Christians as well. The first book, Dark Blue, talks about friendships, and how Kara Hendricks felt after her best friend Jordan Ferguson joined the cheerleading team and became a part of the popular crowd. Kara starts seeing changes with Jordan and she feels betrayed. Alone and lonely, she finds friends in some of her art class, and ultimately finds her faith amidst this challenge.
So I went into Dark Blue expecting to like it, despite the fact that I am far from my teenage years. Kara and I shared similar experiences about a friend moving on, so I thought I would be able to sympathize with her. The book starts out strong, with Kara introducing Jordan and their friendship, and letting readers understand how they met, what their personalities are and how the cheerleading thing came to be. I really, honestly tried to enjoy it…but I couldn’t.
For one thing, Kara was annoying. I know she was left behind and she was angry and sad but she really grated my nerves with all her weepy-ness and whiny-ness. I wanted to shake her and tell her, “Girl, you have to try something and not just wallow in self pity. Jordan isn’t the only one who can make you happy!” I never even really got the vibe that Jordan left her behind immediately. Jordan tried to keep Kara as a friend but Kara pushed her away. If Jordan was written with more of a mean girl vibe from the start, then I would have found the succeeding events convincing, especially the end. However, it was always Kara who is avoiding her gaze, or Kara trying to disappear, or Kara crying because Jordan left her without even thinking once.
But okay fine, I can forgive that because it really kind of sucks when your best friend has new friends that you can’t fit in with. I can’t say much on the Christian aspect but I might have to agree with what this one review said: Kara’s change was so sudden that it felt a bit unreal. Like she was holding on to Jesus so much that it came off as using it to slap Jordan in the face — as in “Hey, who needs you as a friend now that I have Jesus!” I truly believe that Jesus is enough and He is the best friend we could all ever have, but I also think we are built for community and relationships while we’re here on earth, and taking that away just felt wrong.
I wish I could say more for the writing, but there was more tell than show, and I was terribly bored with the things Kara did everyday. I mean, it’s normal everyday teenage stuff, but why narrate it? It may be to stress her depression, but it didn’t make for a very interesting book, at least for me. I was kind of relieved it was short, so at least I don’t have to plod on reading it. If it was more than 250 pages, I would’ve marked this as DNF.
I really wanted to like Dark Blue, but it kind of fell in the same traps that I thought Miss Match by Erynn Mangum did: annoying characters, too-“mountain-top” spiritual themes, and awkward writing. Maybe if I read this when I was younger, I would have liked it more, but now, I just didn’t like it.