Toward a Secret Sky by Heather Maclean

Received from NetGalley for review.

DNF @ 90 pages

I made in ninety pages in before I just gave up. Skimming through the rest of the book only confirmed my theory – this book and I were not destined to have a happy relationship. Whilst Toward a Secret Sky has a fantastic premise – orphans, secret organisations, Scottish Highlands – the actual story was severely lacking. It reminded me of a less compelling Twilight with secret codes and angels and demons instead of vampires (ripping off The Da Vince Code and The Mortal Instruments simultaneously), but the same nauseating sense of insta-love and a special snowflake protagonist.

The writing felt underdeveloped and rushed – the reveals in those first ninety pages felt hurried and unconvincing. At no point was I invested in Maren’s character or her story. Instead of feeling sympathy for the death of mother I just felt bored – bored of her narrative, her experiences in Scotland, and her obsession with Gavin. We are simply told that Maren is cursed/unlucky and feels like an outsider, without any evidence to back it up – yes, her parents are dead and that is tragic, but many people lose parents, it doesn’t make you cursed or some kind of harbinger of death. Even though this is fiction it still needs to be convincing and I can’t remember the last time I felt so unconvinced by a story.

Maren’s interactions with Gavin had me laughing out loud with their idiocy – it is not logical to become obsessed with or fantasise about some guy you’ve just met because he’s hot, even less logical to find yourself wanting to kiss him, be with him, just be near him, even though he’s acted like an asshole, just because he’s hot. I’m not buying it; it’s a disservice to teenage girls to suggest that that is all they care about, that they are that shallow, especially when they have just experienced the massive emotional trauma and upheaval that Maren has. I’m actually fairly pissed off that this book didn’t live up to my expectations because it could have been so good.

I seem to be in the minority with this as the reviews are overwhelmingly positive, so I can only say it might be for you – there is always the possibility that the writing becomes more compelling and the plot more developed but I am not willing to find out. Maybe it is just me, maybe I’m too old or too cynical, but I sadly found no enjoyment in Toward a Secret Sky.

Read: March 14th-16th 2017

1/5 stars

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