Picked this one up at the South Jersey Writers’ Group monthly book swap. I’d never heard of the author or the series, but it had a few wishes on www.paperbackswap.com and I’d just finished another book, so I figured I’d give it a shot.
I was totally hooked in the first chapter. A girl who can hear other people’s thoughts learns a dangerous secret, and she and her mother head from California to a remote island in the Pacific Northwest (win!) to escape her stepfather and his secret. Her mom drops her off at the ferry to stay with an old friend, a woman Becca has never met, with a cell phone and a promise that she’d be there as soon as she took care of a few things. Great premise, right?
But then…well. I think the best way to describe the whole thing was “contrived.” Whidbey Island, in my head, was like a movie set seen off-camera — houses with only the fronts and curtains where it shows, fake trees with fog on cue, convenient empty buildings, random strangers with impeccable timing, characters that were supposed to be acting one way but were actually acting another.
I don’t want to give too much away, but the plan does not go, er, as planned. Becca meets a boy, Seth, who is beyond nice, but who also seems to be the object of many other townspeople’s hate, for reasons that aren’t really fully developed until the second half of the book. Then she has a strange attraction to a popular boy, who seems to like her too, for NO REASON whatsoever? And Becca also makes an enemy, a raging, angry b** who is determined to make Becca’s life miserable, again, for NO APPARENT REASON. (Or maybe to be more accurate, the evil and hatred directed toward Becca is not in proportion to Becca’s actions against her antagonist.) And then, Derrick, the popular boy, gets into a bad accident, and Becca and Seth have to figure out the mystery.
I am not a huge fan of “reactive” characters, who let things happen to them and then make stupid decisions. I am also not a fan of characters with unreasonably low self-esteem, although I usually give them a chance. Becca King fit both of these descriptions, and while I felt bad for her, I wanted to shake her a little and say “stop wallowing and DO something already.” Derrick was really the only character who was believable, meaning that the author said he was popular and his actions and the perceptions of the other characters backed this up.
Another thing I didn’t like was that the book is entirely in Becca’s head (in 3rd person limited) for the first half, but then inexplicably, we hop back and forth to other points of view for the second half. It would have been okay if we’d had these people’s opinions in the beginning, but it felt really out of context and I didn’t like that there was no warning! There was a lot of character development and backstory that didn’t seem to have anything to do with either the mystery of Derrick’s accident or Becca’s mystery. And besides, I kept waiting for one of the other characters to give us a positive opinion on all the things Becca didn’t like about herself, or at least some clue as to why they wanted to help her out. But it didn’t really happen. All the other characters verified that Becca was a little heavy and had ugly hair, and they all appeared to pity her, even though she wouldn’t tell anyone about why she had been exiled. No mention of any kind of personality. And very little personality in the character herself.
All in all, it was a boring mystery within a more interesting mystery, but the interesting mystery was hardly touched on. And there was a lot going on; it was hard to keep track of the characters and their actions. Oh well. It appears that this is a series, but I am probably not interested enough to keep reading. I’d like to know the ending to the interesting mystery though!
Here’s a link to my Goodreads review! Be my friend! What are you reading this week?