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Bibliophilic Monologues

Shadow Hills

Shadow Hills - Anastasia Hopcus So. Before we continue with this, let me insert a disclaimer to any publishers/authors who might be sniffing around my blog. I want to take this moment to insist that I, despite evidence to the contrary, am not a hater. I love YA novels, particularly paranormal YA (though I am developing a love for contemp YA as the paranormal stuff is becoming regurgitated versions of twilight and other prominent novels) but I like well written books. If I see a problem with a novel, I am going to speak out about it. You are welcome to disagree with me and even say so in a comment. In fact, I welcome a comment. I just hope that you will not mistake my reviews as a vendetta against YA and YA writers or anything of that sort. Okay. Now that I have inserted that warning and hopefully set the tone of the review, let’s talk about Shadow Hills. I had been looking forward to reading the book for a long while so when I saw it on the shelves at the library, I was excited. When I started reading and read the character’s name, I immediately stiffened. “Persephone” reminded me of Abandonment and after that debacle, I’m not touching a Greek retelling for a long, long time. But fortune must have been on my side because there was no mention of Hades. Or, well, there was but not John/Henry are not characters in the novel. (Zach is but more on him later.)Let me talk about the good stuff before I talk about the bad, lest you think I’m too critical. I thought the mythology/paranormality (it’s a new word, I made it up just now) was interesting. It is not entirely original but there is a freshness to it that is refreshing. Especially the insertion of science to explain something that is supernatural. I like that. Works for the logic glutton in me. I also liked the dynamics between the friends. It was well written and I appreciated that pretty girls were friends instead of catfights waiting to home. Of course, there were pretty girls who were horrible but there wasn’t much emphasis on it. If the author had focused more on them than I would have liked the book better but alas, that was not to be.Persephone is fifteen years old. Her sister died and her parents are too busy being Californians to give a damn about their daughter. (They did pay for the shrinks she had to see after her sister’s death so they’re not that heartless.) (And they are also paying for the fancy boarding school Phe (as she prefers to be called) so that’s saying something too. Not quite heartless.) But anyway, Phe following her dead sister’s mail and dream journal gets herself to Shadow Hills. On the way there, she has a dream about a beautiful boy.Are you thinking what I’m thinking, Pinky?OH YES. Insta-love!! Just add girl. And a boy. (Sparkles not mandatory. But really awesomesauce if present.)Persephone is fifteen years old. She lost her virginity while drunk to a less than nice boy. She was perhaps fourteen when that happened. And that’s okay. Who am I to judge the sexual life of a teenager? See, the problem I have with Persephone is that she acts in ways that, while not as idiotically as others in her cohort, is stupid enough to make a person question her sanity. She gets a call from her teacher to meet him at the back of some building and she goes charging off without telling anyone. Even though she knows it’s not entirely harmless. There’s also the relationship between Zach and Phe. Yes, I get it. They are teenagers and spilling over with hormones. But this is a novel and I am not reading the story to read them constantly “kissing tenderly” (it’s called a thesaurus, there must be other ways to describe kissing then “tenderly” which was used more than three times to describe the activity in the novel). I understand they are full of passion and all other smexy things towards each other but they act more like they are in their twenties than teenagers. The relationship does not ring true. In fact, it seems rather contrived.Zach is not much of a character, honestly. Apart from being the Edward to Phe’s Bella, he does nothing but look pretty and try to be a good sidekick to Phe, the Wonder Breaking In and Entering-Er. Because that’s what she does. Sneaks into places to look for evidence…to what I’m not exactly sure. She gets away with it too because she’s a spunky wench like that. The plot is all over the place. We get told that Phe is this super-special-person who is meant for amazing things. In fact, she is “The One.” I wonder if anyone else got the soundtrack of Matrix playing in their heads when they read that. Anyway, the whole build up to her being The One is all for naught as we are left with no answers about her special powers or the reason her sister was pulled towards Shadow Hills. We don’t even get to meet one of the Banished. They are present as the bogeymen during childhood. So, in case you haven’t realized it yet, I didn’t like the novel. There were things about it that I liked (like the banter between the side characters) but as a whole, the novel was entirely underwhelming and totally aggravating. The world building and the paranormality could have been developed to be much more interesting than it was and well. Yeah. I won’t be reading the next one in the series.