By A.E. Rought
Published on January 3, 2013
Published by Strange Chemistry
Published by Strange Chemistry
Okay, first off, this blurb on Goodreads gives away way too much of the plot. I actually deleted some of it because I felt that it was way too spoiler-y, especially for some pivotal events at the end of the book And even for things that aren't huge spoilers or are things you can guess pretty quickly, it kind of takes away from any suspense whenever you read the details before you've even opened the book. So, just a warning, if you check out the book's page on Goodreads (or any other place that offers up the "official" summary), you may want to scroll past.Imagine a modern spin on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein where a young couple’s undying love and the grief of a father pushed beyond sanity could spell the destruction of them all.
A string of suspicious deaths near a small Michigan town ends with a fall that claims the life of Emma Gentry's boyfriend, Daniel. Emma is broken, a hollow shell mechanically moving through her days. She and Daniel had been made for each other, complete only when they were together. Now she restlessly wanders the town in the late Fall gloom, haunting the cemetery and its white-marbled tombs, feeling Daniel everywhere, his spectre in the moonlight and the fog.
When she encounters newcomer Alex Franks, only son of a renowned widowed surgeon, she's intrigued despite herself. He's an enigma, melting into shadows, preferring to keep to himself. But he is as drawn to her as she is to him. He is strangely... familiar.... The closer they become, though, the more something inside her screams there's something very wrong with Alex Franks...
This book had a ton of promise. I loved the premise of a modern day spin on the Frankenstein story, and thought it would be interesting to see what adaptations would be made to fit it in a contemporary setting. The beginning and ending of this book were great -- the beginning was very moody and atmospheric as you meet Emma, still grief-stricken over Daniel's death. It raises a lot of questions about who these people are, what happened, etc. The ending is action-packed and very quickly paced. Some of those scenes are truly tense and gory and everything you'd want out of a Frankenstein adaptation. Like, I am not squeamish and even I cringed at a few of the things that happened.
It's the middle part that just dragged. There are long stretches where nothing important happens. Emma pines over Alex and pines over Daniel and tries to make people think she isn't pining over Alex. While I appreciated that all the time Emma and Alex spend getting to know each other helps even out their insta-love connection, it made for a pretty boring read. (There's got to be a happy medium between Insta-Love and the tedium of watching bland people fall for each other for hundreds of pages.) I had to put this book down for a little while because I needed to make a few deadlines for blog tour posts, and when I came back to the book, I'd mostly forgotten what had happened and what I was supposed to care about.
Emma's mom also bothered me. I shouldn't complain too much about a book where both parents are present and not dead or zombies or aliens or otherwise disinvolved in their kid's life. But she would swing between being loving and concerned about Emma--who's experienced some pretty horrible things and still has come out relatively okay--and being so overprotective as to be downright mean to Alex's face when they meet. I understand a bit why she'd be reluctant to accept Alex, given his status as "mysterious new boy" but we're never given any inclination that Emma's the sort who's been untrustworthy in the past. It just felt a little cheap and unnecessary to have her mom be so antagonistic without much evidence as to why she'd be that way.
In general, I feel like a lot of stuff was told to the reader rather than being shown. The story starts with Daniel already being dead and I feel like we never got a clear picture of how he died; Emma's narration just seemed to assume that we already knew. The summary talks about this string of mysterious deaths, but it's only barely touched on for the majority of the story. Some characters never get clear motivations for their actions. One of the villains only gets the barest hint of reasoning as to why they acted the way they did, and that's not enough to explain it. Things just happen a lot. There's a tense, scary climax, and then things are just ... magically okay. Because they just are. Because that's the way people think that YA books are supposed to work.
I'd recommend this book to someone looking for a YA romance with a dash of paranormal-ness and horror (rather than the other way around, which is what I expected). There are some depictions of fighting and bullying, as well as sexual situations and innuendo.