Wally was adopted from a Russian orphanage as a child and grew up in a wealthy New York City family. At 15, her obsessive need to rebel led her to life on the streets. Now the 16-year-old is beautiful and hardened, and she's stumbled across the possibility of discovering who she really is. "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" for teens, this debut thriller introduces a new heroine.
When I first heard about this book being compared to one of my favourite adult series, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and was said to be the "teen version" of that particular series, I was straightaway eager to see what the author would bring up onto the table because I LOVE Stieg Larsson and after reading this book, while it wasn't as epic as I first hoped it to be, but I could definitely see the comparisons between this book and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo book series, and in Richter's case . . . I think he did a splendid job with this debut novel.
DARK EYES tells the story about Wally, a sixteen-year-old girl whom has lived on the streets with her three best friends, Ella, Tevin, and Jake, who are other kids trying to leave their own pasts behind them. But while these three kids come from hard backgrounds, Wally isn't exactly your typical definition of a street kid. Coming from a wealthy family - with a mother whom adores her and a father who maybe distant for most of the time but will still support her - no one can really understand why someone like Wally would want to run away from a family who loves her. It just doesn't make sense through anyone's eyes. However, Wally has always known that she was adopted from an orphanage back in Russia and one day she receives a mysterious envelope with her name printed on the front and inside contains letters and a very expensive gem from her biological mother, which not only leads her onto a dangerous trail of deceit and murder, but it also leads her to her real father whom is a not-so-kind Russian crime boss that wants her mother - her real mother - dead so he can take back what was stolen from him long ago, even if it means killing his own flesh and blood in the process.
While other readers may have had some mixed reviews about the main character and I can acknowledge she has a lot of faults, but I still thought Wally was such a fantastic female heroine with a lot of fiery power in her. She's street-smart, she doesn't take crap from anyone no matter what stuff they throw at her, she can be girly at times but still radiates that hard personality of hers, and of course my favourite side to her was how totally kickass she was in any situation and she truly had a heart full of gold despite all of the dark things that was going on around her. When comparing it to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I could see many similarities between Wally and my girl Lisbeth Salander, and while Lisbeth remains my girl forever and nobody could beat my love of her, but Wally was another shining star for me and was someone I could add onto the lists of great heroines since she pretty much owned this book from the very beginning. On a side note, the book's supporting characters were a whole lot of fun to read about especially Wally's 'adoptive' mother, Claire, whom added an interesting role to the storyline and she too played a great part in the novel. Heck even the bad characters such as Klesko and his creepy and intriguing son were brilliant also - if not frightening - and I'll be interested whether these two baddies have more of a part to play in the next installment because they were excellent.
Russian crime bosses, hidden identities, stolen riches, plot twists . . . DARK EYES certainly has it all in the crime and thriller department. The characters weren't WOWing but the storyline was the high point of this debut novel. It contained so many great twists and turns that I didn't see coming at all and it gave the reader even more reason to keep on reading for the sake of finding out what will happen to our character Wally and her group of friends. The actions sequences alone ran like their own movie trailer and taking into account the writer is a screenwriter . . . I can see why this is so. Anyway, by the time you reach the end and are left on a cliffhanger, I'm definitely, most definitely looking forward to seeing what William Richter comes up with next because I'm sure it will be yet another crazy ride for his readers.
Overall, this book wasn't what I expected but it was still a fantastic book that was mostly fast-paced, action-packed, full of many unexpected things and was way over-the-top but what stands out was the cleverness in the writing. So if you love reading a book that makes you think outside the box or if you're a huge fan of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series like I am, then take a risk like Wally has done in this fearless adventure because this debut novel will be perfect for YOU! There's no doubt about it!