Received from NetGalley for review.
I got to 48% before I realised that this book was not going to get any better and then I skimmed and discovered that I was right and no, it really doesn’t. So that’s two dud reviews in a row, which is a shame. The basic premise of this seemed interesting – Shadow Pines is an insular town with a hint of mystery as a lot of people disappear, and four teenagers are given shadow boxes, which give them the power to trade someone to the shadows. That definitely had some potential, but the execution of the idea was awful. The writing feels fractured and patchy (albeit relatively easy to read), the characters are annoying and forgettable, and the whole shadow box thing becomes laughable.
There are two major problems with this book:
1.) The characters are all ridiculous – they are total clichés and they do not improve as the story progresses. Harley is the typical alternative, woe is me teenager who nobody could possibly understand. Cry me a river, kid. She comes across as a whiny brat who judges everyone around her and thinks she’s better than everyone else. She also makes some seriously questionable choices regarding her boyfriend, Nash, which just show how much of an idiot she is. Teaghan starts as shy and scared but becomes a completely different person overnight (yeah, that’s realistic). Brock and Gianna are barely worth mentioning, they have that much impact. The other characters are equally bland and predictable; there is no originality whatsoever in the characterisation and I felt no connection to them.
2.) The actual plot doesn’t seem to have been thought out. You have the creepy insular town, the shadows that some people can see, the disappearances and the shadow boxes, but it all feels like a mad jumble. I can’t even put my finger on it, the plot and pacing of the story simply didn’t work for me. Then, half way through, some Shadow Pines history is randomly dropped in? That just doesn’t work; you need to work the history in slowly and gradually, not in one massive info dump. Not much even happens in the first half of the book, it’s mostly just a pity part for Harley and Teaghan and their (not really) tragic lives. I feel like so much potential was wasted.
A complete miss for me, unfortunately.
Read: July 19th 2015