Published by Faber & Faber on August 30th 2016
Genres: Young Adult
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Everyone said the Graces were witches.They moved through the corridors like sleek fish, ripples in their wake. Stares followed their backs and their hair.They had friends, but they were just distractions. They were waiting for someone different.All I had to do was show them that person was me.
Like everyone else in her town, River is obsessed with the Graces, attracted by their glamour and apparent ability to weave magic. But are they really what they seem? And are they more dangerous than they let on?
This beautifully-written thriller will grip you from its very first page.
Every girl with eyes loved Fenrin. But I was not like those prattling, chattering things with their careful head tosses and thick, cloying lip gloss. Inside, buried down deep where no one could see it, was the core of me, burning endlessly, coal black and coal bright.
Oh sweet Jesus, get over yourself. Did that quote really come from a narrator we’re supposed to take seriously? Of all the things I expected from this book, a super emo, extremely slow, Twilight-esque story was not one of them.
I’m not just throwing the word “Twilight” around. For most of this novel, the obsession with the ethereal Graces reminded me of the obsession with the Cullens. The story is about the female narrator being the new kid in town and attending a school where everyone is obsessed with the gorgeous, weird Graces –
Rosalie, Edward and Alice Thalia, Fenrin and Summer. For some reason, they allow River into their tight-knit little circle and invite her to meet their equally stunning and strange parents. Turns out they might be witches.
Okay, well firstly, it’s boring. There is literally no plot for the vast majority of the novel and it all builds toward what I guess was supposed to be a twist… um, well, I saw that coming a mile away. The first 250-ish pages are made up of River going on and on about the Graces, especially her love for Fenrin and shallow friendship with Summer. There’s also some chanting and “spellwork” that may or may not be real. Oooh.
You see, that’s the real problem with this book and Anna already said it: there’s no atmosphere. It tries to be so deep and meaningful with all the emo dialogue like:
“I can stop pretending when I’m alone.”
“The thing is, ” he said softly, “we’re all going to die.”
“But the first time you really realize it… how do you get over that?”
But I just can’t take it seriously. None of these characters, none of the plot, is deep and mysterious enough to warrant those conversations. It just made me roll my eyes. The author clearly wanted to write a dark, deep novel about three mysterious teenagers, but we’ve been left with a silly, predictable high school drama about a goth, a hippie and a hipster.
I neither liked nor was interested in River. Her disdain for other girls in the novel – she even refers to them as “things” – made my blood boil at times. It’s all part of the package that is her character – someone who believes they’re just so much deeper than everyone else. This is how she describes another girl:
She wore big, fake, gold hoop earrings and tiny skirts, and her voice had a rattling screech to it, like a magpie’s.
I foresee the “twist” being used to explain away a lot of things, but I’m not playing. Even forgetting how obvious it was, it didn’t make up for the slowness and the annoying cast of characters. The novel gives very little up in an attempt to be mysterious so that the author can pull back the curtain to reveal… Muahaha. But the “suspense” is so forced that I was cringing.
Personally, this kind of book with flat, cliched characters, “oh, what is this universe?” dialogue and little-to-no plot does not work for me. But according to my arc, I’m in the minority, because this emo mush has already been translated into at least five other languages. Maybe girl-on-girl hate sounds classier in French?