Today we’re reviewing the book trailer for Melissa Marr’s upcoming YA novel Carnival of Souls (release date: 9/4/12). Don’t know what a book trailer is? Check out our guide.

This trailer is completely different from the last one we looked at, Kerstin Gier’s Ruby Red, which was a lighthearted animated video narrated by the protagonist. Souls is a darker, dystopian fantasy novel, and the trailer is accordingly more somber; an ominous black-and-white animation of a circle sprinkled in sand alternates with video clips of the author discussing the book.

In her somewhat vague sound bites, Marr emphasizes the three main characters’ backgrounds and presents their struggle as a class war, pitting their personal values against their determination to better their lives through murder. The official site goes into much more detail: in a city of “daimons,” the Carnival of Souls holds a gladiatorial competition that allows any daimon the chance to join the elite ruling class. Aya belongs to the ruling class, and Kaleb the lowest caste, but they’re both participating in the fight. Meanwhile, Mallory is a witch who, with her father, fled into exile in the Muggle world, but she knows it’s only a temporary escape and the daimons will be coming for her soon, for some reason or other. Her only hope of survival is to be ready for them.

I found the constant switching back and forth between the animation and the video to be awkward and jarring (to say nothing of the cheesy rock song playing in the background). If it’s cold enough that you have to wear a leather jacket, Ms. Marr, come in from the back porch already! Don’t sit out there on a tacky plastic chair. Writers belong in comfy chairs by a fire, anyway.

It’s a challenge to summarize a book in under a minute in a way that makes sense and encourages readers to learn more about it, without giving too much away. This trailer, however, erred on the side of giving too little information — and the least interesting parts, at that! The words “daimon,” “carnival,” and “witch” aren’t even uttered by the author. Nor do you get to see the book’s cover, a dramatic image of a carnival mask wreathed in flames that isn’t visually referenced at all in the trailer. Overall, the trailer feels disjointed, cheaply made, and not well tied in to the accompanying website — let alone the book it’s promoting.

Grade: C-

Stephanie Perry
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