Quite a refreshing idea that was well-executed. I found this to be a real page-turner, apart from one dull point in the middle of the book that was we...moreQuite a refreshing idea that was well-executed. I found this to be a real page-turner, apart from one dull point in the middle of the book that was weighed down by Oliver's angsting. Proper review to come.(less)
In one word, this book was satisfying. From the start I actually expected this to be a first book in a series so I was quite interested to find out it...moreIn one word, this book was satisfying. From the start I actually expected this to be a first book in a series so I was quite interested to find out it was a standalone novel.
Lis London has moved to Hollow Pike to live with her sister Sarah and her family after being bullied pretty bad at her old school. She soon makes friends with the school's most popular student Laura Riggs, and finds herself flirting with the much lusted after Danny, however as Laura catches on, Lis is subjected to much the same bullying as her old school and teams up with the weird trio Kitty, Delilah and Jack, who bond over jokingly plotting Laura's murder. After a pretty nasty practical joke, Laura winds up dead, with rumours of witch involvement, and Lis battles with the guilt over the practical joke they played and the prospect of a murderer on the loose.
It was very well written, and Lis was a reasonably likeable character. There were only one or two things she did that annoyed me, but are forgivable given her panic over the murder. What I also appreciated was how Lis and Danny's little relationship wasn't all that forced. It was believable and well done. The whole 'who killed Laura' thing was a little Twin Peaks (okay maybe just the name but still - small town, random murder, father kind of suspected, supernatural happenings etc) but it didn't turn into anything Twin Peaks-y at all (thank god I wouldn't appreciate the nightmares thank you). As a whole the book was just really, really interesting and didn't have many dull moments. It wrapped up well, although it took a while to adjust to who was behind the murder (I won't spoil it), and had a rather satisfying ending.
The minor things that bugged me were mainly Kitty and Delilah. I didn't warm to either of them as characters but could see why they were necessary to the story, so I'm not going to call them out on being unnecessary quirky friend characters. Also it wasn't all that heavy on the witchcraft element. It was only SUSPECTED for most of the novel, and nothing heavily witchy was really woven in the story, so people may be disappointed in that aspect but I wasn't, because the murder mystery element made up for the lack of hardcore witchy stuff.
Otherwise, this was a pretty good read! The writing is very descriptive and telling the story in third person didn't take away anything from the creepiness or intrigue of the novel either. (less)
**spoiler alert** Now I'm really wishing I had actually bought a copy of this rather than get it from the library, because I want it on my bookshelf,...more**spoiler alert** Now I'm really wishing I had actually bought a copy of this rather than get it from the library, because I want it on my bookshelf, stat! You're probably going to notice I'll be comparing this book a lot to 'Saving June' by Hannah Harrington (yes the whole road trip after family death scenario), but bear with me, because both books were really really good. 'Saving June' was perhaps a smidgeon better. A smidgeon. It had something that this book lacked, even though this book was fantastic across the board.
We have roughly the same formula as 'Saving June' as we do in this book. Teenage girl suffers recent death in the family, and goes on road trip across the USA with boy who she inevitably has feelings for (and said boy has a fantastic taste in music), ignores her mother's phone calls most of the time, has a fair bit of fun, and obligatory angsting over dead family member. There is also a heavy music theme.
But that's about where the similarities end. In this little adventure we have Amy, who has to move from California to Connecticut following her father's death. In the beginning we get that immediate sense of loss across the board. Having to leave her family home, the art of feeling alone, despondent, and distant from all friends and family. Not only does she not want to leave California, the only state she's ever known as home and has never travelled out of, but she spends a good lot of time alone before this. She also has to make this journey across to the East Coast with Roger, a family friend from the past who she only vaguely remembers.
All starts out well, though awkward, enough. They only make it so far before they decide to detour to Yosemite, before deciding to take an even bigger detour, not at all what her mother had carefully mapped out for her. On this journey, Amy opens up very slowly as a character, as does Roger. He seems all polite smiles at first, but then comes the truth that part of this detour is because he's seeking his recent ex-girlfriend for answers after he was recently dumped without explanation.
What I liked more about this book was that it was a lot more about the different places in America. I don't live there, I'm an Australian, who now has a huge urge to visit the US asap! But from the book, I got this sense that every state in the US is like a mini country of its own. Each has it's own vastly different habitat and culture. You won't find that so much here in Australia. Sure, the landscape is different, moving from coastal cities to small beach towns to bush to desert to mountains, but I don't think our state cultures as all that different (except the never-ending sports battles between New South Wales and Queensland - in which QLD is the best!- ), but in the US it felt like, in this book, all you had to do was cross the state line and things were vastly different. Don't know how accurate it is but it sounds intriguing!!
In this book, compared to 'Saving June', it felt as though the minor characters we met along the way were far more rounded and realistic, and actually meant a lot more to the story. As I said before, the sense of journey and focus on the places they went was also much more prominent. But I also felt that 'Saving June' was a touch better written. This book wasn't badly written at all, it just felt short in a few scenes, or there were some annoying grammar mistakes at times. Having said that, it didn't drag the book down at all.
Overall, this was a winner. I'm sad it took me so long to get through it, so it probably felt longer than it was, but it was very well done. The little graphics and photos and such throughout the book were a nice touch, as were the playlists!!!