Click on coverAuthor: Thomm Quackenbush
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy/Paranomal Fiction
Book Rating: 7
There is so much in me screaming to say ‘man I loved this book’ but I just can’t. It had more than a heaping handful of the makings of a perfect 11 out of ten but it just didn’t come together right. Kind of like eating a pie that has all the right ingredients of excellence yet somehow still tastes like an average pie though it really shouldn’t. That’s kind of how I felt reading this book. Like it was teetering on the edge of going somewhere but plateaued somewhere in the first quarter of the book and stayed on going somewhere right up till the end and then leaped into somewhere with me thinking, there’s still way to many unanswered questions here even if this is the first in a series.
The heroine, Shane, seems like your typical girl. Nothing too special or unspecial. Just normal. She’s madly in love with Elliott. And that’s about it. I couldn’t really get into her. She’s supposed to be oh so depressed about losing him but really just seems to pine for him in an obsessive way instead of genuinely missing him. And crying over him. And not making friends with people because she’s just lost without him. There wasn’t enough there. Then there was her best friend in collage. Roslyn. The sultry Wiccan. She was entertaining, dated a wannabe vampire boyfriend and that was about it for her too. Her depth kind of stayed in that realm of I’m a which who likes sex, boys who think they are vamps and Shane is my Besty.
The supposed villain, honestly I wasn’t sure if he was indeed bad or evil. Okay that’s not entirely true, I was sure Gideon was the bad guy, but there was no real evidence. As far as I knew Girl could’ve been the bad one. Again I just sort of knew she wasn’t. To a degree anyway. But the book seemed to be more about this game Gideon and Girl had going on and ultimately Shane who is the main character spent most of the book ignoring their advice and trying to figure out how to bring her dead ex back to life.
Gideon, well he was fun to read but ultimately didn’t have nearly enough info on him to connect like with Shane and Roselyn. There isn’t much I can do as a reader without the why. Keep secrets by all means but there has to be some sort of why or end goal we are going for. Nothing he did seemed to lend itself to helping her get out of the limbo between dead and alive. He just barked orders out at her, and trained Shane somehow to just get beat up. As far as I can tell she learned no self defense and was just as helpless at the beginning of the book as she was the end.
Roselyn. More of the same. I would’ve liked to get into more of her as a wiccan, more into her as an artist, more into what drove her as a person. But none of these things got to deep. In fact when Shane got stuck in limbo and Roselyn was the only one who could see her I got a bit excited. Oh there must be something special about her. And nope. The only thing special about her is that she could still see Shane. Nothing more to report.
Virgil and his friends. The three of them think Shane has come to the college to get them. As far as I know she didn’t believe in the supernatural or spells. She was quite neutral about it all. Anyone with half a brain who did their research would have known. Following her around going to places her ex had been before he met her and assuming she’s performing some counter magic of some kind was the biggest leap I’ve seen in a while. After highschool kids go to college. She did well enough to get in on a full scholarship so she earned her way in. Just like any normal student. Unless she was flying on magic carpets and summoning demons assuming she was out to get you, especially since she doesn’t even know who you are is ridiculous.
And girl. Maybe I’m losing my mind here but she was the only thing in this novel that made absolute sense. She could adjust memories, play with time a bit. Make you remember or forget things. She was trapped in the school by some unknown magic force, and even with the power over memories she had no idea who she was and was trying to remember. And most importantly she was not insane. Everything she said made sense yet no one understood her. One point she constantly made was in order for Shane to get her life back she had to do the things she would’ve normally done. She had to act like she was alive even though no one could see her or she would eventually cease to exist for real. It was obvious even with her kooky misplaced dialogue that that was the point. It was far from difficult to decipher. And it made both Roselyn and Shane look a bit stupid that they couldn’t get it.
Then there was the speech she gave Shane when asked who she was. In a nut shell she said why does where I come from matter. If she was an alien, an AI, or a ladybug, what mattered is that she was here now to help Shane get back into the human realm and that was what she should focus on. In the midst of this spiel she draw as an example what if she was Australian. Shane after the speech was over said “your from Australia”. I wanted to scream. How could you miss the point that she’s trying to tell you stop focusing on her origins and focus on you getting your real life back. Shane’s amazing ability to miss the points of what both Girl, bar far my favorite character, and Gideon, entertaining if flat and annoying, tried to tell her. Her job was to listen and focus on being a real girl again. Instead she persisted in trying to find ways to bring Elliot back to life.
And the other thing about this novel was three incidents, one of a man who gets turned into a merchant of death, another about a boy who gets his sins permanently tatted on his body and another about Elliot’s Ex girlfriend Ashley. All three of this got a few pages maybe a whole chapter for the Ashley and tattoo man because they shared the chapter. These things, though very very cool, did nothing to propel Shane’s story. In fact I’m still mulling over why even bother with it at all. Especially the Ashley and Tattoo guy bit. It was fun to read but it didn’t come back as a real plot point. Just added pages. Just something else cool for the author to throw into the novel.
And lastly I was put of quite a bit by the emphasis on virgins. Who cares if the girls or the boys where each others first. Just enough with the virgins and virgin sacrifice and more importantly the need to mention it enough times for me not to forget it. I also read part two and this virgin thing was more annoying over there. Also I’m not down for how the women are so helpless. They are the heroes and are more than ill equipped to live in a world of demons and other supernatural things. In fact if they got into a fight with a human I doubt they would win. It’s like they are damsels in distress and their male counterparts are even weaker than they are. Even though it never happened the book read like one of those novels where a man was going to swoop in and save the day at some point.
I guess that was my problem. Shane pretty much ended up being your typical ‘I just want to be Shane’ even after being thrown into a world that only she can keep the balance of at the moment and she just doesn’t care. Let evil destroy everyone I just want to be a normal girl. Ugh. Why do they always do this. For once it would be refreshing for someone to want to be normal but still understand they can’t be. Denial causes problems and turning a blind eye when things go wrong, which I know they will in book two, is just selfish. Girl even flat out tells her she will never be just Shane again, so Does Gideon before the end. Yet she’s still harping over a normal life.
I felt the same about Gideon. He kept trying to force her to embrace some role that only he seemed to know about, and I could not figure out because there were no real clues laid out. Just floating in space knowing this was going to be one of those no clue type of books where all is revealed in the last ten pages to hopefully make you feel awesome about knowing nothing the whole book. And naturally ten pages is far from enough to tie up the ends that should end in this book so they clearly got pushed into book two.
Roselyn. I had hope for her when she teamed up with the wimpy Virgil, he had the same level of manliness as her boyfriend, zero. And was to psychologically connected to his roommate in a creepy yeah you’re gay even though you say you aren’t kind of way. But she didn’t really learn much. They found this book that I’m still totally clueless about but everyone seemed to want (oh and I read the second book still no clue what the fuss is about this book) she was somehow drawn to hunt down items throughout the campus, but once she had them I don’t remember her handing them over to anyone. I just assumed I’d missed it or girl wiped her memory of such things when she took them from her. Who knows. She basically came out at the end the same woman she was in the beginning. Just like Shane.
Then there was Girl. There are way way WAY too many awesome tings I can say about her. She was by far the most developed driven and deep character in the whole book. And the only one who came out different at the end. The only one whose happy I felt and whose sadness I felt and anger I believed instead of was annoyed by like Shane. Shane always came off as a whiny child who refused to follow orders because she was smarter than everyone and had to do it her way. Girl had a purpose to save Shane, and to remember who she was which was why she was so vague about giving her name. She didn’t know and you could relate to the crisis of not knowing who you were and hating the person, Gideon I assume, who trapped and stole that from her. And in the end when she supposedly wasn’t insane anymore, her ability to make sense out of everything stayed true to the last page. And even then when Shane asked what she was up to and accused her of keeping secrets, Girl once again had to remind her that she had her own journey to follow. She wasn’t the Shane she was before, and what Girl herself was up to was immaterial to Shane’s journey. It just baffles me how many times she tells Shane this and she never gets it. Even in the end. Girl was the best thing all up and over in this book as far as the characters and good character development was concerned. She was just brilliant. In Sea of main characters that floated, she swam.
And another good paragraph, this book was cool. Demons, and wraths, and all sorts of other names for things that I still don’t know what they are without a dictionary, were everywhere. The concept of being here, but not here and having to act like you are here in order to be fully here again was a good one. There were enough funny bits of very clever dialogue to almost drown the annoying stuff. A love interest that ended only because Shane is just stupid was a nice section as well. The dialogue during Shane’s training was always interesting though for someone so smart she always failed to see the obvious inner meaning in Gideon’s words. This book just seemed like with a little more action, more character development and a lot less wining on Shane and the men in the novels part, this book would’ve been better than awesome. In fact, though I think it’s not that great, I would bet my life this book is cool enough, and imaginative enough to get a serious following. It has just the right dose of all the good stuff for people who just want light entertaining reading to enjoy. And there are a lot of those people out there.
So would I recommend this book. Yes. Is it for me, no. Do I even think it's good, not really. But I’d be lying if I said this book didn’t read like the type of book that would become amazingly popular and leave people like me thinking it was okay but not that awesome. This book is that kind of novel. It was just confusing and none of the plot points seemed to drive it anywhere. They just came at me like additional factoids lost on the breeze. It would probably be the type of book made into a movie and be better, kind of how I feel about LOTR. The concept is brilliant, people will love it, but it was a tedious read, that’s how I feel about both. This book is more than worth the read just because, stereotypical virgin stuff and I wanna be normal girl stuff aside, it was quite satisfying in an imaginative I do want to see more of how this authors brain ticks kind of way. I may not give it five stars but I don’t think this book needs them the story is catchy enough to succeed regardless of my not so good opinion of it. Hell I wrote four word document pages so clearly it made an impression on me. And that’s what any good book should do. I just wish the changing of tense was more fluid, and the new strange book wasn't introduced at all if it wasn't going to be developed, and, well if it just had a clear more defined direction. Other than that as a first in a series it read more like a laying of the ground work to be tied up in book two than an actual stand alone grand opening.