This could have been a good book. It was engrossing the first 30 or so pages, at that point I still liked Mara, and the writing was pretty good too.
And then everything went way downhill.
1. The Plot
The basic premise of the book is that this girl, Mara Dyer, was in an accident (a building collapsed) that killed her two friends and her boyfriend. She then somehow persuaded her family to move to Florida, where she and her brothers start going to a fancy-ass private school. Except, weird things keep happening and there are mysterious deaths all around her.
Sounds interesting, right?
Well, it started out that way, and then promptly failed when Noah Shaw, the magical bad-boy love interest, entered the story.
When he came in, Mara went from a traumatized teen who, while I still didn’t really like her, still tried to move forward and heal herself, to a weepy little girl who clung to him for everything. The plot went all over the place as well- it went from romance and school life, to paranormal murder mystery, back to romance again, then to something I don’t even know. There were random flashbacks to the night of the accident thrown throughout the novel, and the story really jumped around. As the book went along, there were also more grammatical errors, though I’m not sure if that was just in the edition that I was reading.
Honestly, the only thing that got this book one full star was the plot- there was something truly addictive about it. No matter how terrible the rest was, the plot was interesting enough to keep me reading even though I wanted to drop it at least 10 times in the first 150 pages.
2. The Characters
Oh. My. God. I’m not even sure where to start with this, because there wasn’t a single redeemable character through this whole book.
Can you believe I actually liked her at first? She actually started off as a good character- she felt believably traumatized and scared of the things that were happening all around her. Unfortunately, that lasted only about 20 pages, when she started turning into a cliche.
All of a sudden, Mara turned into an incredibly stereotypical teenage girl- one who can’t focus on anything other than that hot dude, who slut-shames and can’t control herself at all. She was, quite frankly, annoying. And not only this, but she suddenly discovers that she has special powers to kill people, animals, etc. just by imagining it or feeling strong emotion.
Ugh. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again- kill it with fire.
He’s the bad boy character who for some reason, is considered “sexy”. “Alluring”. “Sweet at times”. I just don’t see it.
This dude’s a freaking creep. He stalks Mara, does things to her without her permission, shuts her up and expects her to be submissive just because? Mara said it in the book- he’s a whore and an ass, and in that moment, she was 100% right. He’s got a tragic past, but that doesn’t excuse his actions in the present; it doesn’t excuse the fact that he’s a sexist prick.
“‘Because I’m European, and therefore more cultured than you,’ he said, taking another swig and trying not to smile.”
“Noah placed his forefinger above my upper lip and his thumb below my bottom lip and applied the slightest pressure, cutting me off. I felt lightheaded, and my eyelids might have fluttered closed. So embarrassing. I wanted to kill myself a little.
‘Shut up,’ he said quietly. ‘It doesn’t matter. Let’s just get her checked out, okay?'”
Look, I don’t know many British people, but I sincerely hope they’re not all like this. The one’s I know aren’t, so that gives me hope, but still.
The Other Characters
No one else really had any sort of personality. Rachel was just the dead best friend, Claire was just the jealous dead friend, Jude was just the evil dead ex-boyfriend. Mara’s classmates at school are just those other kids who hate her on principle, the teachers also hate her for no reason, the only person who doesn’t is another outcast, etc. Everyone else is completely one-dimensional, including her family.
3. Other Things that Bugged Me
Through the whole book, nothing really happened. While it was still interesting, the only thing that really happened was Mara trying to find out what happened to her friends, why she can’t remember, and what’s going on with her powers. And the horrible romance, of course. All of the action happened in the last quarter of the book.
This book could have been great, but it wasn’t. Too bad.