Author: Jill Hathaway
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Vee Bell is certain of one irrefutable truth–her sister’s friend Sophie didn’t kill herself. She was murdered.
Vee knows this because she was there. Everyone believes Vee is narcoleptic, but she doesn’t actually fall asleep during these episodes: When she passes out, she slides into somebody else’s mind and experiences the world through that person’s eyes. She’s slid into her sister as she cheated on a math test, into a teacher sneaking a drink before class. She learned the worst about a supposed “friend” when she slid into her during a school dance. But nothing could have prepared Vee for what happens one October night when she slides into the mind of someone holding a bloody knife, standing over Sophie’s slashed body.
Vee desperately wishes she could share her secret, but who would believe her? It sounds so crazy that she can’t bring herself to tell her best friend, Rollins, let alone the police. Even if she could confide in Rollins, he has been acting distant lately, especially now that she’s been spending more time with Zane.
Enmeshed in a terrifying web of secrets, lies, and danger and with no one to turn to, Vee must find a way to unmask the killer before he or she strikes again.
I first decided to read this book because it was a debut, but the more I thought about it the less interesting and more typical-YA-paranormal it seemed. I got it from the library, though, and it was short, so I decided to give it a go anyway. Unfortunately, I was right and wasn’t too impressed with this debut.
The main character, Vee, irritated me. She was overly critical of a lot of people, which might have been less of a problem if the author had tried to gives these characters depth so that we realized that Vee was wrong to be so judgmental, but that never happened. I think some of the characters earned a little sympathy from me, but I don’t know if that was because they seemed like real people or if I felt so bad for them because they didn’t seem like actual people, and I don’t feel like Vee ever felt sorry for being so judgmental. She seemed like a stereotypical used-to-be-popular-before-traumatic-event-but-now-hates-everything-pink-and-perky, and I feel like the use of (slight spoiler) of attempted date rape wasn’t treated respectfully – it was just a plot device.
The love interest was given depth through telling rather than showing. I think I mentioned this at some point in the past, but it annoyed me enough to bring it back up. There was a scene where the obviously-a-love-interest-but-she-hasn’t-realized-it-yet mentioned that he likes The Great Gatsby or F. Scott Fitzgerald, I can’t remember which. That’s all he does, mention it in one sentence. Less than a page later, Vee alludes to this statement by saying that the way he talked so passionately about it was so beautiful and reminded her of the way she loved astronomy or something of the kind. He mentioned it – that is no where near passion for something that he obviously loves. I know, it’s probably just a silly little pet peeve, but I think this was a blatant, and really bad, example of telling rather than showing. A paper thin love interest/character that the author is trying to enhance but fails at.
The best friend seemed too good for her even though you know they’ll probably end up together in the future (or maybe they did in this book – I’ve kind of blocked out a bit of it). Almost from the beginning, their relationship was volatile and strained. It was difficult to accept them as best friends when we never got the chance to really understand why they were friends in the first place. We were told that they were best friends and that things had been great between the two of them, but it’s hard to believe that when we never got the chance to see it. Again, show, don’t tell.
And, most importantly, the mystery wasn’t that interesting. I feel like I figured some really important things out long before Vee did, so I was practically yelling at her to get a clue for half of the book. I guess there were some things that might be considered twists, but even if they surprised me, Vee never really figured them out until a few chapters later, at least. In general, though, it was pretty obvious at times, which meant the climax consisted of me continually saying “Oh really, I didn’t figure that out fifty pages ago, you’re so smart!” rather than being shocked and entertained. Investigating is definitely not a skill that Vee seems to possess.
Overall, I just wasn’t impressed with this book at all. It’s very, very rare that I don’t finish a book (probably something I should work on – maybe it can be a late-ish new year’s resolution), but it took a lot to force myself through this book. Unless I hear 100% great things about the sequel from people who think it’s way, way better than the first book, I’m not going to stick around for the second book.