A quirky, original, well-written novel by a new Australian author … what could possibly go wrong?
This is Shyness is good. Very good. But it has one big, looming fault that spent the last half of the book dancing around in my peripheral vision, cackling madly to itself.
The first half – or near-half – of the book is about these two people, Wolfboy and Wildgirl. They are strangers but go on an adventure through a suburb where the sun never rises. It’s very metaphorical, yet not obnoxious; the quirk of everlasting night doesn’t overpower the teenagers’ personalities. Rather, it enhances them as Wolfboy and Wildgirl both have a lot of darkness in their pasts.
The problems come when the two of them being a Purposeful Quest; suddenly a deep journey into these people’s minds turns into a sort of teenage spy thriller. It doesn’t feel altogether natural, with questions about other portions of Shyness left on the footpath scratching their heads while Wildgirl and Wolfboy run off into the distance.
Not climactic enough to be a climax, not interesting enough to be a thriller, This is Shyness loses its way for a while. Taking breaks between action to have the kids bicker and reveal more about their histories doesn’t actually work; if you’re going to get into the action, it needs to be exciting. And taking a break every two minutes doesn’t make for an exciting read.
Hall has created an interesting place, with interesting people, and a partially interesting story. She just lets it go off on its own tangent in the final third of the book; and not in a good, quirky-yet-charming way.