Dark Eyes

Dark Eyes

4.1 6
by William Richter

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Wally was adopted from a Russian orphanage as a child and grew up in a wealthy New York City family. At fifteen, her obsessive need to rebel led her to life on the streets.

Now the sixteen-year-old is beautiful and hardened, and she's just stumbled across the possibility of discovering who she really is. She'll stop at nothing to find her birth mother before


Wally was adopted from a Russian orphanage as a child and grew up in a wealthy New York City family. At fifteen, her obsessive need to rebel led her to life on the streets.

Now the sixteen-year-old is beautiful and hardened, and she's just stumbled across the possibility of discovering who she really is. She'll stop at nothing to find her birth mother before Klesko - her dark-eyed father - finds her. Because Klesko will stop at nothing to reclaim the fortune Wally's mother stole from him long ago. Even if that means murdering his own blood. But Wally's had her own killer training, and she's hungry for justice.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for teens, this debut thriller introduces our next big series heroine!

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 7–10—Wallis Stoneman seemed to have everything. Rescued from an orphanage in Russia by wealthy Americans, she was whisked off to live in glamorous Manhattan. But by the age of 16, she has opted to live on the streets with other runaways, attempting to shun her former life. An encounter with a Brighton Beach shopkeeper from whom she is trying to obtain a fake ID opens an unimaginable door to her past: he hands her an envelope with documents, a gemstone, and a letter from her birth mother. The path Wally takes to find out about her early life and to reunite with the woman who gave her away 11 years earlier is dangerous without her knowing it, because a criminal is also on her mother's trail. The teen is trained in martial arts and the use of handguns, equipping her to go toe-to-toe with a man so evil that he was sentenced to life in prison. He is also her father. This debut novel glamorizes life on the streets and stereotypes street kids. It has an "and then this happened, and then that happened" feel, and, as each event unfolds, it is more and more difficult for readers to suspend disbelief.—Melyssa Kenney, Parkville High School, Baltimore, MD
Publishers Weekly
A Russian mobster out for vengeance. A distraught adoptive mother who takes time from her high-flying real estate business to go to the morgue. A hardnosed cop admiring the street skills of a private-school kid gone rogue. These cameos are sketched with skill and conviction, but the protagonist of screenwriter Richter's first YA novel, 16-year-old Wallis Stoneman, is more of a puzzle. Independent and fierce, Wallis has willingly given up a sheltered life on the Upper West Side to join a tight crew of homeless youth who rummage for food and clothing on the streets of Harlem. Obsessed with the search for her birth mother, Yalena Mayakova, who she has never known, Wallis becomes involved with ruthless criminals who will lead her toward discovering her true origins, but will also destroy those she loves. Despite Richter's well-paced action sequences and the book's cinematic scope, Wallis is not an entirely convincing teenage heroine, strongly reminiscent of characters like La Femme Nikita and Lisbeth Salander, but lacking in authenticity and psychological depth. Noir homages may also be lost on the intended audience. Agent: Kari Stuart, ICM. Ages 12–up. (Mar.)
Children's Literature - Veronica Bartles
Wallis Stoneman is a sixteen-year-old runaway. Sort of. She knows she can always go home again, to the lavish apartment where her adopted mother waits with open arms, but Wallis is convinced that her wealthy socialite mother will never be able to fully understand her, and so she stays out on the streets, proving to herself and the world that her friends are the only family she really needs. However, when she stumbles across a package containing a letter written to her from her birth mother, Wallis realizes that her roots, which she knows nothing about, could be deadly. Her birth father, Klesko, is a Russian gangster who will stop at nothing to retrieve the fortune Wallis' mother stole from him before Wallis was born. She races against time to track down her birth mother before Klesko finds her, discovering a web of deception at every turn, but she knows she must uncover the truth before Klesko finds and kills them both. In this debut novel, Richter has worked hard to follow all of the formulas for a good mystery/thriller, and for the most part, he succeeds. Although the plot is predictable, the characters are fairly two-dimensional, and though the twists are anything but surprising, there is plenty of action to move the story forward. Because of the high rate of profanity in this book, however (the f-word appears frequently), I would not recommend it to younger readers. Reviewer: Veronica Bartles
VOYA - Kelly Czarnecki
Sixteen-year-old Wally Stoneman is a runaway. The last time her adopted mom, Claire, saw her was a few weeks ago when she came back to do laundry. Jake, Ella, Sophie, and Tevin are her crew. After six months, Wally decides to be with them full time and away from Claire's structured and stifling environment. They hang out during the day, walking the streets of New York together. Since Claire worked for a realty company, Wally uses a password to locate places for sale, types in the code for the lockbox, and gains access to a key and thus a temporary shelter. One day, Wally discovers that her ID and most of her emergency money are gone. Through connections, she ends up at a place in Brighton Beach to get a new ID. She is given a mysterious file with a surveillance photo of a male; a letter from her Russian mother, Yalena Mayakova; and a stone worth thousands of dollars. Wally's search for her mother will stop at nothing. It is not long before she discovers that she is in over her head, as Yalena has ties to the Russian mafia that bring Wally right into the middle of a dangerous situation of revenge, murder, drugs, and money. Teens who enjoy reading fast-paced and danger-filled mysteries will enjoy this book. While there is not a neat and tidy ending, readers cannot help but learn some lessons along the way in being true to oneself and uncovering the past. Reviewer: Kelly Czarnecki
Kirkus Reviews
A drop-dead-gorgeous heroine, evil dudes with guns and a perilous race through the streets of New York City make for a page-turning read. When sassy, streetwise runaway Wally (née Valentina) Stoneman's fake ID is lost as a result of the brutal murder of a friend, she comes face to face with the mystery of her lost Russian heritage, her missing mother and priceless jewels that have ruthless thugs chasing her up and down the streets of Manhattan. Richter is a screenwriter, and the pages of his first novel for teens turn quickly. Readers will feel as though they are watching a fast-paced action movie, with its multitude of daring escapes, witty one-liners, touch of passion and slew of dead bodies. The characterizations feel more stereotypical than original, but it works. Readers will recognize many of them: the beautiful heroine, the do-gooder cop, the bad boy, the slimy murderer and his sidekick. Action takes precedence over literary quality, but the chase sequences are so slickly written that readers will most likely not notice the novel's staccato sentence structure and wooden dialogue, or they'll forgive it anyway. What they will notice is Richter's scenically keen sense of New York City geography as Wally and her cadre race back from Coney Island to SoHo to the Upper West Side fleeing for their lives. Full of thrills and screaming for a sequel. (Thriller. 14 & up)

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Dark Eyes Series , #1
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Sales rank:
File size:
515 KB
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

William Harlan Richter is a Hollywood screenwriter. He was nominated for an Emmy Award as producer of "We Stand Alone Together," the documentary episode of the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers. William was born and raised in California.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Dark Eyes 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A little confusing at first but the ending is keeping me on edge. i hope William Richter makes a second.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
InkandPage More than 1 year ago
Rating: 4 The Low Down: Wally is an adopted girl from Russia. She barely remembers anything about her life there, so why is she so angry with her adoptive parents? Deciding to live on the streets with her crew until she figures things out, an encounter sparks an unstoppable trajectory that puts her in the path of mobsters, murder and deception. Who is Wally? Best Thang ‘Bout It: I loved the Russian angle - the adoption, the story of Wally’s past and her birth mother’s escape. The tale from start to finish feels like what I imagine life on the street is like; avoidance (of home, family, police); trying to make a family out of your crew; being smart and fast. When Wally realized that her friends have real problems is her big wake-up call. There’s a lot of action. I’m Cranky Because: Because of reasons that you’ll understand after you read the book, the adoptive dad is quite out of the picture. Plus, it seems like her adoptive mom has given up a little on Wally. Plus, I kept wondering how anyone can help those kids? Should You?: Definitely. Dark Eyes was published on March 15, 2012 by Razorbill. Genre: Young Adult Fiction Urban Contemporary Ages: 12 and up
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing!!!