This one was in the ‘suggested reads’ section of my kindle whenever I highlighted ‘Hush, Hush’, and it’s a debut novel with a Twilight-esque cover, so you know it’s going to be a masterpiece. Well, it did win an award. Said cover includes another feather, so our hero is either an angel or a goose.
Anyway, I’ll try not to make too many puns about the terror being ‘inescapable’, ha, ha, ha. The condensed review can be found on Goodreads, here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/524121430
Well, let’s get started!
Our main character has been given a scholarship to some elite academy, which is no doubt secretly filled with vampires/witches/demons/angels/kelpies/etc. It’s a really interesting opening filled with much-needed exposition and much welcomed insight into our heroine—oh, who am I kidding, it’s boring as hell.
So Evie, the MC for this book, has been raised by her Uncle Jim after her mother’s death. No doubt she was murdered by vampires/witches/demons/angels/kelpies/etc. There’s a moment of astonishment when Evie tells us Uncle Jim’s not into ‘females’, but since she follows it up with ‘my age’, it deflates soon enough.
We learn Uncle Jim is a private investigator who hacks people’s private computers, which is legal because they’re considered joint property (No. No they’re not.) and much clichéd sappy dialogue ensues, interspersed with banter. He leaves, and we’re treated to long, long descriptions of Evie settling into her dorm. Zzzzzzzzzzzzz…
Then Evie cuts her finger and in the last few paragraphs has an extremely urple vision of some dude covered in blood and a voice spouting ‘meaningful’ gibberish. I could have easily cut this chapter down to half the length it was and it would still be made mostly of superfluous material.
Jeez, at least Hush, Hush was entertaining in its badness!
All right, maybe things will pick up now that we’ve spent all of chapter one setting the scene. We start off with the words ‘Bong, Bong’ which in my opinion is already an improvement. Due to visions, or even… premonitions? Ha, ha, ha—Evie is late for freshmen orientation.
When she gets there she stops to admire a bronze statue. We’re not told what the statue is of, but it’s ‘A Gift of the Wellington Family’, so chances are they or it will be important. She’s called over by an acquaintance—Alfred, who’s no doubt going to be the loser/sort-of-friend/Mike-from-Twilight of the book. They have a long conversation about turning their mobile phones off, and I notice for the first time that this is apparently uni, not a boarding high-school as I first thought. Huh.
Well, the phone conversation was obviously crucial, but apparently learning more about the school isn’t, so we skip past the induction and on to more important things… like an OMG so hawt boy in the audience! He looks at Evie like he really hates her for no reason and we all know what that means. Love interest!
Evie is then sent on a walk to Arden Lake, splitting her up from Alfred whose life she has decided to take charge of, renaming him Freddie and changing his personal style without his permission, while keeping obsessive notes on other people’s mobile phone usage. I don’t know about you, but I remember my own induction group into university being extremely interested in said induction, and not on their mobiles the entire time. (Well, maybe one or two of them.)
Anyway, Obvious Love-interest tells Evie to get da fuk out, but she informs him that she’s right where she’s supposed to be, and he starts acting like Agent Smith from The Matrix, with lines like “So you are… Genevieve,” (Mr. Anderson).
Well, Agent Smith’s name is actually ‘Reed Wellington’. Not quite as stupid as ‘Patch’, but it’s up there, making me think of beef wellingtons and all…
Evie meets Russell, a man with a ‘twang’ in his voice who probably survives solely on fried catfish. They have some banter, and then there’s a so-called barbecue (it’s no real barbecue, there isn’t a drop of rain in sight).
Evie, Russell and Freddie sit together for eating tiems, while the audience is treated to more talking. As Russell walks her back, Reed appears and tries to get Evie to talk to him alone. Given Russell is a stereotypical suthener, y’all, and Reed’s name is… well, Reed, I wonder if the author is a fan of Enterprise? If so… it would explain a lot.
There’s a testosterone charged moment for the ages, Evie tells Reed to piss off and then for some strange reason makes a joke about a comment Russell made earlier, even though he’s ostensibly on her side. Huh.
Well, Reed tells Evie to get da fuk out again, either because he knows that if she doesn’t a terrible YA paranormal romance will ensue, or because he’s just generally an asshole. Or both, I suppose.
Russell tries to distract him with a dick-measuring contest, but Reed mind controls him to get on the bus. Wow, mind control already—that was fast. You’d think the author might build up a little suspense and mystery about the character (not that it wasn’t obvious from the front cover that the love interest would be some sort of supernatural being) but no, instant mind control. He tries to use it on Evie too, but it’s Not Very Effective.
What follows tries to be a Kriptik Konversayshun, but is actually extraordinarily banal. The gist is that Reed and Evie are both some kind of supernatural being that are enemies with each other, only Evie doesn’t know it yet and Reed thought she did. Evie instead thinks he’s talking about how she’s a scholarship student and we all know from Hush, Hush what a terrible fate that is.
Instead, she pulls a Taser out of her bag! (where the hell did that come from). But it’s Not Very Effective, and Enemy Reed uses Glare. Evie runs away!
But Russell comes back for her—I’m beginning to hope he’s actually the love interest, and they actually have a reasonable talk regarding Reed’s mind-control power.
We’re 10% through the book, and a lot more is happening here than in Hush, Hush, which is why this review-cap is taking so long even though most of what happens is boring. (and then out of nowhere—mind control!). At this rate it’ll be ten thousand words long, so I’ll try to keep it shorter from here on in.
Or I was going to, but then Evie misinterpreted and insulted Occam! Now she must die!
I kid. (Or do I?)
Evie has Breakfast (exciting!) where Alfred tells her the boys in his dorm were rating the girls from the student directory all that night—and Evie’s a ten! What a surprise! But of course, Evie disapproves.
She tries to register for physics, but Reed tells her, you guessed it, to get da fuk out. Lame fish analogies ensue. Apparently TERRIBLE THINGS will happen if Evie stays at the school, but Reed didn’t count on her actually asking what the hell is going on and relents, allowing her to register for class. What a doofus.
So Evie goes to the cafeteria, avoiding all the usual token cliques to sit with Russell, who’s been mind controlled into forgetting who she is, but then remembers after a brief headache. Then again, maybe he wasn’t mind controlled—maybe he’s just that dumb. She gives him the ‘now you must stay away from me or you’ll get hurt’ speech, but he counters with ‘friendship is the best thing ever’ or something sappy like that.
Russell then shows her a magic necklace which Evie becomes convinced she must protect. Then talking ensues, and I realise that despite my best efforts, this recap is going to get loooong.
Evie meets a girl called ‘Buns’, talking ensues. That’s half this book in a nutshell, really, irrelevant talking. It’s not badly written, it just clogs up the book to no purpose. A teacher tells them the rules of… something, but it’s entirely skipped over so Evie can also meet Buns’ roommate Brownie and get invited to play field hockey.
And then it’s time for din-dins! The excitement never ends at… whatever it was this school was called. Until mind-control happens, I guess.
More obviously irrelevant characters are introduced by way of the hockey team, and we get the baseball scene from Twilight again. Evie injures herself, and of course Reed springs into action, this time being more proactive in getting Evie to get da fuk out by picking her up and driving her to the hospital. Russell tries to intervene, but is mind controlled away.
On their way to the hospital, Evie and Reed discuss Reed’s mind control ability, making it sound like the most mundane thing in the world. It turns out that Evie didn’t injure herself, she was deliberately injured by a girl named Tamera who I skipped over because that part was so boring. Now I fear I’ve missed the introduction of the Malfoy/Marcie character! Oh noes!
Reed takes Evie back to his house where he lives alone with his servants. He applies his tender loving care, the leg insta-heals, and at one point Evie exclaims that he’s made a joke, but try as I might, I just can’t find any trace of one. And it goes on. And on. And on.
Suddenly Evie’s talking about how she feels desperate, like she’s running out of time, and as far as I know this has come out of nowhere, though these feelings may have been buried under all the useless small talk and thus obscured from my view. Reed disapproves of her friends.
Then he tells her that Russell is there ‘because she brought him here’. Okay, this sounds interesting… but that conversation soon fizzles out and they go back to random bullshit. Also, Reed knocks over the statue of an angel. Foreshadowing? Then they start talking Kriptikally again, resurrecting the dumb fish analogy, and Reed takes a leaf out of Patch’s book by implying he might kill her!
…but Evie is distracted by that implication by the sexy. She merely tells him that if he does have to kill her, he should let her Uncle Jim know she’s gone. I suppose it was good of her to think of that when there’s so much more ogling of Reed she could be doing! Also she now thinks that if someone as special and wonderful (really?) as Reed wants to kill her, she must be a monstaaaah! About three minutes ago, she hated him, but now she hangs on his every word. Ah, twu wuv!
Reed tells her he’s a soldier in a war—angels and demons, I’m guessing—and Evie angsts that her life is now changed for evah! Yes, because some crazy bastard tells you to get da fuk out and says some bullshit about a war and mind control, your life is now changed forever.
On her return to the dorm Evie bullshits with Buns and Brownie, then finds Russell sleeping at her desk. Apparently this dorm doesn’t let people have boys over (wait, this is uni, right?) and she decides the best way to proceed from there is to let Russell sleep in her bed. With her.
Now, the beds at my first hall of residence were not big enough to allow two non-romantically involved people to sleep on comfortably. When my best friend came over to visit, she got the bed, I made do on the floor!
Oh, and Evie is a virgin. How shocking.
Anywho, it’s now time for Art History, so the author can give me flashbacks to the art history course I did in my second year at uni, which bored me to tears so badly I ended up failing it. (not that I think art history—particularly the era I was studying—is boring, but that lecturer sure as hell was). This lecturer, by contrast, immediately asks if he can use Evie’s ‘ethereal beauty’ as his model.
… and then it’s time for lunch again!
Russell expresses concern over the motivations of the professor, but Evie is irritated by his over-protectiveness. Understandable, of course. He should take a leaf out of Reed’s book and threaten to kill her, that’ll get her on board!
Christ, they’ve been at this school for like, three days, but it feels like forever!
During a boring encounter with Buns and Brownie, Evie suddenly has a vision of blood ‘n’ gore and faints. Apparently before fainting she started speaking in tongues, and you know what that means… she’s possessed by the dehbil!
No, not really. The incident is soon forgotten in place of random talking.
Reed shows up to look in through Evie’s window like a creeper. This results in Evie thinking about how totally hot he is! He locks her in his car so he can interrogate her about her possession. Evie now hates him again and points out what a dick he is. Consistency? What’s that?!
Reed’s also surprised that Evie is afraid of him—being the heroine of a YA paranormal romance, he probably didn’t think she was that intelligent. He apologises, and tells her she had a premonition (name drop!) and they hold hands randomly.
More bullshit “I can’t explain anything to you because of reasons” follows. Evie decides to tell Reed to stay away from her for his own protection despite hating him five minutes ago and also despite not having a clue what’s going on, but he convinces her to tell him the next time she has a vision with the power of his sexiness.
I’m beginning to think whatever’s possessing Evie may be an SJW—he tells her he can’t wait to see her in her hockey uniform and she goes all ‘wimmin’s field hockey is srs bizness! Not for the enjoyment of the male viewrs!’ at him. While I agree with the sentiment… come on, seriously? It was a bit of harmless flirting!
Conversely, when Russell demands to be the first person to know whenever anything happens in Evie’s life, she meekly accepts it and apologises. Classes ensue, and then Evie’s Reed sense starts tingling so Reed appears to suggest they recreate the whole fainting episode. Evie goes along with her hockey stick for protection, and Reed reminds her how much he wants to kill her, you know, in case we forgot.
Reed mind controls some poor sap for the surveillance of Evie fainting—probably so he can take it home and laugh at it, no, wait, it’s the one of today because he already got the one from the night before and it revealed nothing. He needs today’s surveillance so he can break it, which will obviously wipe it from the computer too, through… uh… mind control. Why he needs to destroy the surveillance? I hold out hope that it will be explained later, but I’m not going to have a heart attack if it isn’t.
Twu wuv ensues, and they eat Twinkies. And smooch.
But oh no! A Wild Russell appears. Russell uses Rage. It’s Not Very Effective.
Evie goes to tell Art Guy that she will indeed sit for him, and he compliments her on her great wisdom for taking so long to decide, when the progress of her decision making can be encapsulated in one word.
Anyway, it’s time for Foreshadowing/SYMBOLISM!, by way of Art, and Evie is shown some old paintings of Genesis, which she thinks are scandalous because the subjects are nude. Evie… what was your scholarship for, anyway? Banter?
We’re beaten over the head with the importance of these paintings, and then Evie goes off to see Reed and moon about how perfect he is. He in turn tells her she is the stupidest—uh, I mean, most dangerous creature he’d ever known—and apparently he’s known them all.
Really? Even dinosaurs, Reed?
But Reed’s an angel, so I’m guessing dinosaurs were just God’s little joke in this book, and Evie is apparently of the Nephilim. Yeah, they just come out and say it with zero fanfare at this point, even worse than when it was revealed in Hush, Hush. Reed marvels over her amazing deduction skills, which, like Nora’s, were based on ‘feelings’ and speculation, though I’ll admit in this book it’s slightly more well done, what with Evie having had visions of this crap already.
But that’s not all! It turns out Evie is also somehow super-speshul-awesome in a way no one has ever been before, like, ever. Because she has a soul. Oooooooh!
This makes her a ‘paradox’ and an… ‘irony’ (?!?) in her own words. Also an abomination, though I don’t know where she’d get that idea, Reed hasn’t said anything about human/angel hybrids being evil. I guess it’s just there for wangst purposes.
Then Evie suddenly gets amazed that Reed’s an angel (delayed reaction much?) and he wants a soul for… some reason. *sigh* blah, blah, blah, Evie’s going to be a target, more talking. I think this is why it’s better for speculative fiction to be from the point of view of people who are used to the paranormal/whatever, authors are pushed to try and find a way around massive infodumps.
And apparently angels have gender in this universe, (why?) but the female ones ‘lack the mystique and femininity of human women’. Huh.
*Looks in mirror*
Oh, yeah, look at that mystique and femininity, baby. I got it going on!
Also, Reed is a millennia-old virgin. Who’d have guessed? And Evie will soon spin a cocoon and become more angel-y, or something. More Blah. And it goes on. And on. And on. And—
Wait, Russell is Evie’s soul mate? Hold the phone, how did that happen? Okay, this bit is actually interesting, Russell and Evie have been reincarnated throughout the ages together as soul mates, (wait, reincarnation? That’s not very angel-y!) but because Evie’s an angel this time around, things are different. Reed’s solution?
“Maybe he’ll find a new soul mate.”
(To be continued in Part II)