Published: August 31st 2010
Details: Hardcover, 543 pages
My Rating: 3/5
Well written debut about cheerleader and an outcast goth guy who are assigned an English project about Poe in school. First half of the book is of them gradually growing fond of each other despite their differences. The second half the book turns horror/supernatural as they are thrown into a dream world interwoven with Poe’s stories. A fuzzily explained dream world drags the grade down. Still enjoyable read.
A few chapters in:
I read various book blogs raving about this book and its wonderful romance, and so naturally I was intrigued.
After reading a few chapters however, I am sceptical. The premise is so similar to other paranormal romances that it almost put me off. Isobel, the heroine, a popular girl and cheerleader, is paired up in class to do a project with this outcast and weird, yet strangely good-looking boy in school. (Heard this plot setting before anyone?) Naturally, she’s horrified in the beginning, but I assume she will warm up to him eventually. I haven’t got that far though, and as I said, I am slightly wary. I hope that their (what I assume to be) growing fondness for each other actually shows. As it is now, it’s been a bit too awkward and weird between them, him not uttering many words at all. Hmm..
It has got great reviews though, and so my hopes are still up for an exciting novel. Let’s see how it plays out..
After finishing the book:
So I finished the book a few days ago, and I’m still not quite sure what to think.
I think I find it difficult to sum it up because I really liked some parts and disliked others. As you know, I started out sceptical, but as Isobel and Varen got to know each other better it got interesting. But then, just as I was getting really hooked, it took a dive into that supernatural dream world and my interest was lost again.
First however, let me point out that the writing is excellent. It is detailed, hence the length of the book, but not tedious like other books I’ve read (see The Pace). The reason why it’s not tedious is because the details make sense. If something detailed is explained, more often than not, that particularly detail is important for the plot later on in the book. Which makes me want to pay attention, because I know I may be rewarded later. So kudos to Creagh for that!
The plot however, as hinted earlier, was uneven. The first half of the book was good in the sense that I liked how Isobel and Varen gradually grew fond of each other. It certainly took some time. Isobel, despite committing social suicide by hanging out with Varen, was surprisingly much more open to talking to him than he with her. Consequently, at the start I was wary of Varen. He was being rude and arrogant for no other reason than for the fact that Isobel was (on the surface) a popular cheerleader. Then gradually we get to know more about Varen and understand where he is coming from. Suddenly his grumpiness made sense to me. Their feelings for each other slowly start to grow into something more – romantic.
But, just as that starts to develop, the supernatural plot takes over. Varen disappears. Isobel somehow ends up in a dream world chasing him and trying to understand how to solve the chaos. She stumbles through one weird surrounding through another, meets a number of strange creatures, her ex-boyfriend being one of them as he visits the dream world as the red death. (Don’t even ask me what that was about – I have no idea!). And all the while the strange Mr Reynolds keeps popping up here and there, helping (or not helping) Isobel with fuzzy advises.
To cut it short, I felt like I was reading a great contemporary novel about two people with different backgrounds falling in love, then got interrupted and thrown into a David Lynch movie where nothing made sense.
Moreover, I didn’t buy the whole epic romance between Varen and Isobel. I understood their connection at the start, but it went from “I think I might like you” to “you’re the love of my life” in two seconds. Like ..wait..what? Did I miss something?
I think I would have like the two of them (Isobel and Varen) to have had a bit more time together in the “normal world” before all the craziness started. And I would have liked the craziness to have been a bit less crazy or at least stayed crazy for a shorter period of time.
The Bottom Line:
All that being said, it’s still a good book, which had me glued to the pages througout some parts. It’s well written with an original story. I can definitely see potential for a good series and it’ll be interesting to see where it is heading from now on. I just hope that we are provided with explanations in the next book so that this dream world makes better sense. Sequel is to be published in August next year.