Scar was first published in 2014 and is the debut novel of CC Faye. It is a paranormal romance novel that is heavily influenced by anime and Japanese mythology. This novel is unfortunately currently out of print but I am posting this review anyway to inform you lovely readers in the event that it does become available once again.

Seventeen year old Kiko Kurosawa leads a lonely existence. Her mother tragically passed away when she was only eight years old and she only sees her father, a mafia boss, on special occasions. Most of her life is spent at home in her spacious mansion with only her maids and childhood friend / bodyguard, Ken, for company.

However, Kiko’s life is turned upside down when she is kidnapped from her school by one of her father’s enemies. She is rescued by a masked stranger. She quickly learns that her saviour, Scar, is a young Soul Reaper who has been tasked with collecting a thousand souls before his 18th birthday. If he fails, he will be outcast from his society and left to become a wandering spirit but he can’t succeed without a weapon.

This is where Kiko comes in. Scar reveals to her that she is really a Soul Reaper’s weapon in human form and swiftly claims her as his own. Although initially reluctant to be a Reaper’s slave, Kiko soon warms to her master and swears to help him in his quest. Yet things will not be easy. Scar only has one month remaining to complete his goal and he’s not the only Soul Reaper that wants to claim Kiko…

Yes, I know that posting a review of an out-of-print novel goes against my reviewing policy but I promised the author that I would read her novel back in December and was not really expecting it to disappear from Amazon in only four months. I had also already read the book by the time that I noticed that it was no longer in print and so figured I might as well post this review anyway. Please note that this is a one-off – I’ll take more care in the future to ensure that novels are still in print before I review them.

Contrary to what you many believe, I don’t like slamming independently published novels. Authors pour their hearts and souls into their work and it takes an enormous amount of courage to put it in the public eye. Yet, I also feel that it’s my duty to readers to warn them when a novel is of particularly low quality. This is unfortunately the case with Scar.

You may have already noticed that Nick and I are both big fans of Japanese culture. We’ve been avid collectors of anime and manga for well over a decade now and therefore have a reasonable knowledge of the style and mythology that is common to these stories. Because of this, I was actually really excited to read this novel but that excitement quickly faded as I started reading.

One of the biggest issues with Scar lies in its translation. It is fairly obvious that English is not CC Faye’s first language as the grammar of this novel is incredibly messy. Sentences often contain multiple different tenses, no pluralisation and gradually degenerate into nonsense. I really could have opened any page of the novel and found an example to illustrate this but I’ve decided to use this gem from the beginning of Chapter 12:

“Those words still echoed inside my head even if I have slept through the night, or I have been released from the hospital a moment ago”

In all seriousness, what does that even mean? I know that many independent authors can’t afford translation fees but this novel was put up for sale in English speaking countries in this state. While I sympathise with independent authors, I also feel that they really can’t expect readers to spend money on a book that feels rough and unedited. The broken English made the novel incredibly difficult to read. While there were occasionally interesting ideas within the story, such as the rather gruesome twist regarding how Weapons were made, it was difficult to appreciate them as they were hidden beneath a mesh of mangled sentences.

The story was also rife with anime clichés which felt incredibly out of place in a novel. On a basic level, the story took a lot of inspiration from anime. Scar’s mission to become a true shinigami by collecting a set number of souls and the concept of humans becoming weapons was lifted directly from Soul Eater and I have to wonder if some of the character names were taken from other popular series (Scar and Hughes are both major characters in Full Metal Alchemist). Beyond this, there are a number of gestures and vocalisations that felt unrealistic when written on the page. Katana slicing objects neatly in two, girls clutching their skirts to avoid flashing their panties when hurled into the air and responding to sexual abuse by shrieking “PERVERT!” are all tropes associated with shounen anime. I personally find them irritating enough in that medium, when seen in writing they just feel all the more unrealistic.

Although some of the issues in the prose can be put down to poor translation, I got the impression that the bad grammar masked deeper issues within the story. As the novel progressed, I found myself incredibly lost as to what was actually going on. I did not really get a feel for individual characters as even the author seemed to forget who was who sometimes. Ginger was sometimes described with red hair and sometimes with black, while Lena sometimes had red hair and sometimes brown. Character motivation also seemed to change between pages. Hughes fluctuated between wanting to help Kiko and being Scar’s rival, while at the same time he seemed to sometimes be Frey’s slave/weapon and sometimes be a free agent.

There were also many unconnected plot threads and sudden twists. A sudden reveal of a “cure” to being a weapon was hinted at about a third of the way through the story, yet the details of this were always very vague and the thread disappeared altogether when Kiko is suddenly sent to live with her wicked aunt (or possibly cousin, I wasn’t really sure). There are also many other twists and reveals that did not seem to really connect into the story or get explained very well. Why exactly did Mary want to experiment on Kiko (and, if this was so important, why did she not just steal her as a baby)? Why does Kiko see flower spirits when no one else seems to? Why did Kiko’s grandmother pass down a magical MacGuffin ruby? By the end of the story I was utterly lost as to who the good guys were and what the overall point of the plot actually was.

This was not at all helped by the absolute worst thing about the novel. Perhaps I would have felt more lenient towards the author if it was not for the horrific rape scene in chapter two. This sequence made me so incredibly angry that, if I had not had an obligation to read and review the whole thing, I would have given up right there. While the writing does not make it immediately clear what has happened, Kiko wakes up naked and realises that she has been raped by Scar (who, let me remind you, is the romantic lead of the story). The events of the previous chapter had left her unconscious and he had his way with her while she was out cold and unable to consent or resist him. Quite naturally Kiko is distressed by this, locking herself away and calling him a pervert in what one could consider as this Century’s biggest understatement. This sense of violation lasts for a whole page. She immediately falls in love with Scar because he is so dreamy and rationalises that he needed to rape her in order to activate her weapon form and claim her as his eternal slave.

Wait. What?

Also, the spirit of Kiko’s mother appears to her in a dream and tells her that she’ll come to believe that Scar was in the right for raping her and, most unbelievable of all, that God forgave Kiko for being raped.

No. No. No. Just…No.

Why would you even write something like this into your romance novel? It’s sickening, nothing more that vile victim blaming. Rape is never excusable. It should never be treated as something that happens to women. It never should be shown has having no lasting consequences and it should never, ever be used for shock value. This chapter alone was enough for me to give the novel a one-star review on Goodreads and firmed my resolve to never recommend this story to anyone. Seriously, this novel is right up there with Shadowmancer on the list of the worst, most offensive young adult novels that I’ve ever read.

I think I’ve said enough to make it clear that I did not enjoy Scar and would not recommend it to anyone. If the depiction of rape is not enough to put you off, it’s also confusingly written and very badly translated into English. There are certainly way better teen romances out there. Don’t waste your time struggling through this one.

As of the time of writing, Scar is currently out of print. If you are interested in purchasing a copy, I would advise that you keep an eye on its Amazon page or CC Faye’s blog.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: The Concealed | Arkham Reviews
  2. Trackback: The Witch Hunter / The Healer | Arkham Reviews

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