Desiree's Reviews > The Freak Observer

The Freak Observer by Blythe Woolston
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's review
Jan 17, 2011

liked it
Recommended for: Young Adults
Read from January 07 to 10, 2011 , read count: 1

I'm going to get straight to the basics to explain why I rated this book 3 stars.

Characterization, for one, is very one dimensional. Loa is portrayed as a very intelligent, rational teenager in high school who is very interested in science and physics. This was interesting and unique, however, I feel that it's the only part of her character - aside from the panic attack in class that occurs midway through the story - that is believable and draws the reader in. She isolates herself from everyone, even before the accident that gives her the beginnings of post-traumatic stress disorder. She is extremely emotionally stunted for most of the book, which may be a result of having to care for her younger sister who has an incurable disease and needing to stay in control of her life (emotions would present a threat to that control) but even when she is written to feel something, I never felt as if I were connecting with her.

Other characters, with the exception of Little Harold as another reviewer mentioned, are completely unlikeable. The only people from school that she gets remotely involved in friendships with are so flimsy, they're practically transparent. I felt that the only reason they existed was to fill pages as most of them had next to no importance for the storyline, including the very long entanglement with her debate partner who abruptly leaves and then sends cryptic postcards and gifts to Loa for months. The two male characters we're introduced to nearer the end of the story, have such little to offer that I only kept reading to get to the end.

Woolston's writing style is unique and I appreciate it but the fact that she skipped around so much in the beginning between her sister dying, her friend dying, and her present attempts to deal with it, did not piece together very well. The location of the story and the bleak weather, I think, set a dull mood to the story. I was not moved by the characters and I found a majority of the story lacked emotionality. If Woolston does write another book, I hope that she continues using amusing descriptions of mundane things (one of the reasons I gave 3 stars instead of 2) but she might try harder to connect with her readers, have them feel what her main character is feeling.

And, as a sidenote, as someone who has been struggling with PTSD for over ten years, I did not find that Loa's PTSD was entirely believable. Everyone goes through different methods of dealing with death (her constant nightmares and sleeplessness) and everyone who has PTSD doesn't suffer from the same symptoms but there is a certain degree of reality and emotionality that you can sense when reading about someone's PTSD. I don't know if Woolston was trying to protect younger readers but writing about it from arms-length will not do anything to reach younger readers who are looking to learn more about how others go through it or have a history of it themselves. If an author is going to have a character suffer from a disorder, I don't feel like they should keep it at such a distance. It's important so why act as if it's some annoying thing like a headache and not talk about it? The only point where I felt she even tried was during the aforementioned panic attack in which she did some slightly impressive cognitive processing.

If you do decide to read this book, don't expect very much depth.

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