It pains me that I don't like this book. I adore McMann's other work, The Wake Trilogy. And I am still excited for The Unwanteds to come out in Septem...moreIt pains me that I don't like this book. I adore McMann's other work, The Wake Trilogy. And I am still excited for The Unwanteds to come out in September (such a cool premise!). But this fell short for me in a number of key areas. Let's start with what she did well.
I love the fact that Kendall, the main character, has pretty severe OCD. Such an underrated disorder. I connected with Kendall from the beginning on that fact alone. She has to arrive at school early to straighten the desks in perfect rows, organize the markers by color, and check the window locks six times before class can begin. While I don't consider it my main mental problem (you have to prioritize), I have dealt with OCD myself. Kendall's difficulty connecting with the other students really struck home with me. And I love that McMann uses her talents to bring this disorder to the forefront. Her daughter suffers from it, and I really appreciate her using her medium to convey a message. This is one of the things I so loved about the Wake trilogy as well.
But the flip side of this is that OCD becomes the main reason for the novel. The plot nor the romance is enough to let it stand on its own, and it basically just becomes an excuse to talk about the disorder. A noble pursuit, but those that suffer from it try not to let OCD run their lives. McMann let it run her book.
She starts out with a great idea. Communicating through the desk graffiti, Kendall's OCD being the only reason her friend/boyfriend, Nico, can even communicate at all. It's awesome and original in the genre. Really, it's kind of eerie. Especially when you find out the truth about what's happening. So much creepier after that.
But this interesting story then gets taken over by a romance with the new bad boy in school (who turns out to be really sweet, of course). It's not a terribly believable romance, since Kendall first makes Jacian her main suspect in the kidnappings and then kind of forgets that when he is moderately nice to her. Suddenly she's daydreaming about rolling around in a field with him. For numerous chapters we just discuss the romance with only occasional references to Nico and how guilty she feels to be attracted to the new guy. Then suddenly a new message appears on the desk and we're back in the plot, romance forgotten. They don't exist in tandem, or fuel each other. The plot and romance compete with one another, and end up being overshadowed by her discussions of the disorder.
I still loved her writing style, totally different tense than most popular literature. It took some getting used to in Wake, but now I love how it sets McMann apart from the rest and never lets you forget who you're reading. But a lot of the descriptions were lackluster, the dialog was flat in some places. Not like her other work at all. I feel like if it had been longer, maybe?, she could've spent more time giving me setting and such. As it is I don't even have a good image in my head of what most of the characters look like.
Nevermind that I was truly disappointed with the way the mystery is solved and the book is ended. I'll just leave it at that.
As I said, I still remain a loyal fan of Lisa's. They can't all be gems, I think. But this book read like a rough draft that needed some more time on the editor's desk. I hope it's a fluke. The concept behind The Unwanteds is too good. I'm looking forward to some redemption.(less)
If you enjoyed the first two books in Hieber's Strangely Beautiful series, you simply must read this. It's worth the $5.00 to get the ebook version. T...moreIf you enjoyed the first two books in Hieber's Strangely Beautiful series, you simply must read this. It's worth the $5.00 to get the ebook version. This basically fills the gap between the climax and the epilogue of book 2. Percy makes a lovely reappearance, as does Jane, but Michael steals the show. I adored him in the books, and this story just solidified my love for him. A must read for series fans! (less)