Author: Kelly Creagh
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Rating: Did Not Finish
Cheerleader Isobel Lanley is horrified when she is paired with Varen Nethers for an English project, which is due—so unfair—on the day of the rival game. Cold and aloof, sardonic and sharp-tongued, Varen makes it clear he’d rather not have anything to do with her either. But when Isobel discovers strange writing in his journal, she can’t help but give this enigmatic boy with the piercing eyes another look.
Soon, Isobel finds herself making excuses to be with Varen. Steadily pulled away from her friends and her possessive boyfriend, Isobel ventures deeper and deeper into the dream world Varen has created through the pages of his notebook, a realm where the terrifying stories of Edgar Allan Poe come to life.
As her world begins to unravel around her, Isobel discovers that dreams, like words, hold more power than she ever imagined, and that the most frightening realities are those of the mind. Now she must find a way to reach Varen before he is consumed by the shadows of his own nightmares.
His life depends on it.
Before I begin my review, I’m going to come out and say the most controversial thing about this review: I didn’t finish the book. I know many, many people have a problem with people who write reviews about books (almost always, if not always, negative) without finishing the book. I have never posted a DNF review – in fact, I very rarely leave a book before I’m done with it. However, with this book, I made an exception. I made it over halfway through this book, at least 250 pages in, which is more than enough time to catch my attention and is longer than some books, so I think I read far enough to talk about the book. If you don’t like reading reviews of unfinished books, then don’t bother reading this, but I’m doing my best to be just as fair toward this book as toward any book I finish.
OK, now for the book itself. Before I read this book, I had read some great reviews of this book. Based on the summary, this didn’t sound like my kind of book, but I decided to check it out first. Unfortunately for me, my opinion didn’t seem to change much.
The main character is a typical cheerleader that apparently grows throughout the novel while the love interest is the goth loner who is more than he appears. Well, that’s what I thought I had heard in other reviews. Based on the huge size of this book (over 500 pages!) and the glowing recommendations, I figured that the romance between the two would slowly unfold and seem quite genuine, but instead it seemed to be almost insta-love, if a romance that’s still developing after about 250 pages can be called insta-love (the romantic feelings seemed to show up randomly and quickly to me, anyway).
I just had trouble connecting with Isobel. I don’t want a really stereotypical cheerleading mean girl, but I did expect Isobel to be a little more “typical teenager” than she seemed to be at the beginning. Sometimes she seems like a misunderstood teenager, sometimes she’s the good daughter, and all the time I just had trouble figuring out who she was.
I wasn’t interested in the story either. For over halfway through the book, I just expected more interesting things to be going on at that point. About two months later, I barely remember what was going on, nor do I really care that I didn’t get the chance to finish it, which is probably a good sign that I made the right decision about not finishing this book.
I know it seems like I hated this book, but I really didn’t care that strongly. It’s not a horrible book, it just wasn’t the book for me. I know there are plenty of other people who did enjoy the book, so I seem to be in the minority, or at least in the less-vocal group of readers. Regardless, I’m happy with my decision to move on rather than force myself through this book, but I’m sure there are plenty of other people who have and will love this book. It’s all about an individual opinion.