Sunday, December 19, 2010

Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus

Title: Shadow Hills
Author: Anastasia Hopcus
Publisher: Edgemont USA
Copyright: July 13th 2010
Pages: 400 (hardcover)
To Buy:
How obtained: Bought at a bookstore

After her sister's tragic death, Persephone "Phe" Archer has been haunted by a series of disturbing dreams. Hoping to make sense of her sister's death, she enrolls in Devenish Prep in Shadow Hills, Massachusetts--the subject of her sister's final diary entry.

Once she steps on campus, Phe realizes that there's something very different about the place. Not only does Shadow Hills' history contain an unexplained epidemic that destroyed the town in the 1700s, but its modern townies seem to posses eerie supernatural powers. Even Zach--the gorgeous stranger Phe meets in a cemetery and immediately feels connected to--seems as if he has something to hide. But the more questions she asks and deeper she digs, the more entangled Phe becomes in the haunting past of Shadow Hills and finding what links her and her sister to this town might just be the end of her.


First of all, I'd like to take a moment to dedicate this review to Kristina over at the Frazzled Book Nommer. She has been--literally--waiting months to read this review. (Ok, you can stop bugging me now. ;D)

I really wanted to like this book. Really, I did. I mean, think about it: Mysterious epidemic? Townies (Phe's word for the Shadow Hill natives) with supernatural powers? Creepy dreams that connect Phe to the town? Sounds epic. The whole mystery intrigued me and I was looking forward to seeing how it unfolded. But that's the problem--there was no unfolding to be done. Phe solves the mystery behind Shadow Hills (roughly) a fourth of the way into the book, and the plot is taken over by a fairly familiar style of YA romance minus a lengthy period of courting: Girl sees Guy in her dreams, Girl meets guy in real life, Girl thinks Guy is hawt, Guy thinks Girl is hawt, they get together and, after deciding that they can't stand to be apart from each other, combine their super special awesomeness to defeat a bad guy. The End.

Now, I am a fan of romance, but only when it is done well and the relationship is interesting. Though it is clear that Phe and Zach are made for each other, there is no challenge that they must overcome to be with one another, and nothing to produce roadblocks in the way of exchanging their love. Even Zach and Phe's powers don't keep them apart, which was kind of disappointing because Phe's powers are unique and make her a 'special snowflake,' even among the townies in Shadow Hills. While Zach's powers are rooted in science, Phe's powers fall on the mystical side of things, and in this case I don't think the blending of the two worked well because the differences were not exploited to their full potential. The lack of conflict between them made parts of the book...well, boring, for lack of a better word. Eventually the two stumble onto another mystery (somebody is murdered on the school grounds) towards the end of the book, but by then the action felt almost out of place.

Though the novel is well written (I really enjoyed Hopcus' writing style) and concludes solidly, there were still a lot of lingering thoughts about Phe's newly-discovered powers and her connection to Shadow Hills. I'm assuming Hopcus did this to leave room for a sequel, but--and I feel bad for saying this--I'm not sure I'll pick it up. However, I know many fans of the paranormal genre will enjoy this book because what it does offer is unique to the genre. It just didn't turn out to be my cup of tea, especially since I was expecting something much different than what was given.



Alice Dwyer said...

Thank you for the review. I have been humming and hawing about this book for a while now and I love the idea of it but I think, after reading your review I will wait a while before I pick it up.

Emi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Emi said...

@Alice: I think your decision is a good one. I don't ever want to say, "NEVER READ A BOOK," but this is one that I think the idea was better than the actual story. If you ever get around to reading it, be sure to let me know what you thought! :P

Kristina Barnes♥ said...

Daaaawww, I’ve never had a review dedicated to me. I think I’m going to cry! First, I’d like to thank me, for starting this stalking adventure with you. Second, I’d like to thank you, for just being so awesome. And lastly, I’d like to thank coffee haagen dazs for being just so darn good.

Anyway, lawl! Yay, I’m so glad you [finally *coughcough*] posted this review up! I had been admittedly waiting for it, especially since you refused to tell me what you didn’t like extensively. Plus, you have good taste (no, seriously, don’t roll your eyes at me!). I kind of agree with you on the plot – having a mystery solved a fourth of the way into the book is... well... weird. What in the world is going to happen in the sequel if the mystery’s already solved? O_o I mean, besides the mysteriously murdered body. Anyway, so sorry this book wasn’t for you, but thank you for the review. ♥

Despite your warning, I think I’m going to pick it up. Just to see what I’d think about this. If I end up not liking it, I’ll just throw the book at you. You have been warned. ;)

Alice Dwyer said...

I will definitely let you know if I get around to reading it :)

Emi said...

@Kristina: FO SHO, Krissy-kins. <3 I'm so glad that you started this stalking adventure too. But if you're going to thank you, and me, and haagen dazs ice cream, then you have to thank dragons. Because dragons are just so darn awesome and good too. And really, without them, would you and I be here today? (that is a serious question, so think carefully about it before you answer xD)

I couldn't help it if I was holding out on you. xD I wanted it to be a surprise! But now you know. So yeah, advertised mystery solved quickly. Not fun. But since you're still going to read it YOU MUST tell me what you think of it. We'll compare notes. I have the feeling that you might like the book more than I did (since you have a higher tolerance for some stuff), but if you don't, you can't throw the book at me! Its just not fair, especially since I tried to warn you. ;D

@Alice: YAY! Awesome! I look forward to it. :)

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