Nutshell: Amanda Hocking's "fairy tale" follows Lux and Lily as they try to safely navigate a world in which good and evil are literally battling around them. Some problems with the text may make adults less enthusiastic, but this book will undoubtedly be devoured by her fans. Four stars.
Review: Hocking seems to have successfully walked the fine line between literature which appeals to girls and that which appeals to boys, creating in Virtue a book which should captivate both.
In line with our no spoilers policy, I'm not going into much detail about the plot, but this tale of the struggle of good versus evil nicely balances romantic elements with magic, action and adventure. The world Hocking has created is nicely detailed with small touches that are sometimes reminiscent of the work of J.K. Rowling and which help the reader easily envision the goings-on. Although the characterization of Lux and Lily at first seemed flat, once the reader learns more about who the characters are--or rather, who they represent--you could argue that the characterization is sufficient.
Hocking's writing is clear and simple--almost curiously simple sometimes--and appropriate for the age group she's aiming for with this work (Virtue is recommended for readers 14 and up, according to the product description.
An adult reader, however, may find it difficult to remain engaged with the plot given the many errors scattered throughout the work. Most of them involve wrong words flying under the radar of the spell check function, but which should have been caught by whoever assisted Hocking with the editing--things like the use of aide instead of aid, illicit instead of elicit, and so on. I was amused, however, by one particular slip. Note to Hocking's editors: decanter and cantor don't mean the same thing. Once a cantor is full of wine, you don't want it back.
Still, these are minor problems overall, and considering the intended age group, many of them won't be noticed at all. In the end, I suspect that Virtue will please Hocking's fans and may earn her some new ones.
Rating: Four stars. In spite of the problems with the text, this is an entertaining book that will appeal to both boys and girls. Virtue is a recommended buy.