Friday, December 30, 2011

Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus

Release Date: August 24, 2010
Publisher: Egmont
Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 388
SynopsisAfter her sister Athena's tragic death, it's obvious that grief-stricken Persephone "Phe" Archer no longer belongs in Los Angeles. Hoping to make sense of her sister's sudden demise and the cryptic dreams following it, Phe abandons her bubbly LA life to attend an uptight East Coast preparatory school in Shadow Hills, MA -- a school which her sister mysteriously mentioned in her last diary entry before she died. 

Once there, Phe quickly realizes that something is deeply amiss in her new town. Not only does Shadow Hills' history boast an unexplained epidemic that decimated hundreds of its citizens in the 1700s, but its modern townies also seem eerily psychic, with the bizarre ability to bend metal. Even Zach -- the gorgeous stranger Phe meets and immediately begins to lust after -- seems as if he is hiding something serious. Phe is determined to get to the bottom of it. The longer she stays there, the more she suspects that her sister's untimely death and her own destiny are intricately linked to those who reside in Shadow Hills.

Review: Oh, I hate writing negative reviews! So much! But really, what I'm about to write isn't going to be a review as much as it's going to be a rant. A rant on why I really, really disliked this book and why it was a chore to get through.

   Before we get started, let me just say, I wanted to put this book down at pg 280. However, because I hate giving up on books, I made it through all 388 pages. Let me just tell you, though, that I heavily skimmed throughout the last 100 pages or so.

   I wanted to like this book. The concept sounded creepy and awesome. The cover is totally great. The ratings on Goodreads are pretty stellar. I really wanted to enjoy this book and end 2011 with a bang. This book was more of a flop.

   I had several major problems with this book. The first was--of course, you guys know me and my relationships with characters--the main character, Persephone "Phe" Archer. She was idiotic. I'm sorry--I could not put it any nicer. You know when you're watching a horror movie and there's that dumb girl who never listens when you scream, "DON'T GO INTO THE CLOSET!" and goes into the closet anyway? Yeah, that was Phe. It's even ironic because there's a line in the book where Phe says she doesn't want to be the idiotic girl in a horror movie. Well, she is. She falls into all these stupid traps that I'm sure even a toddler would have enough sense to evade. Plus, Phe was totally gaga over Zach. I mean, I love a good romance. Key word: good. This romance was not. But more on that later. Phe was basically Bella--except Bella is like a total badass when compared to Phe. It wasn't just Phe that I didn't like. I didn't like ANY of the characters. Wait, I take that back. I liked Graham and Toy. But that's about it. Everyone else was annoying and totally two dimensional. Even Zach! And you guys know how much I like to fangirl over male leads.

   My second problem was the writing. If you like Stephenie Meyer's writing, then the following sentence will mean nothing to you, but if you're like me, then: Imagine the writing of Stephenie Meyer, except when she was a teenager. Yep. That bad. The sentences were so boring and this book was just far too long! The editor(s) should have cut out a few scenes, because it seemed like there were too many "in between" parts. The dialogue was just awful. Awful, awful, awful. I cringed every time Zach pulled a cheesy line. Or, heck, when Phe pulled a cheesy line. Honestly, the cheesiness of the dialogue was enough to challenge the Twilight saga. There were lines like this everywhere:

   "You're the most important thing in my life."

   Phe's inner monologue was just as bad. Examples:

   "Her words, the idea of not being with Zach, tore through my heart."
   "I wanted to memorize every angle, every plane, of his gorgeous face."
   "The kiss warmed my entire body, giving me strength."

   Talk about gagging. I mean, seriously. They didn't even know each other for more than two weeks and they were already in "I'D DIE FOR YOU" love. Which brings me to my next complaint: the romance. So. Much. Insta-love. And. Cliches. Cliches, cheesiness, insta-love... The romance in this book was excruciating to read about. I hate insta-love, just so you know. Cliches and cheesiness I can deal with in moderation. In this book, it was not moderation. It was the mother load. The romance was pretty terrible. Oh--and it was unbelievable. Like, really, I could not believe it. It seemed so fake. It was basically all physical. There was a lot of build up for their first kiss, but after that, they were making out on every page. You think I'm exaggerating. They even made out at a school dance. So much that a chaperon had to interrupt them. I mean, who does that?

   The one thing that I don't really have a huge complaint about is the plot. I found it pretty interesting, for the most part. A lot of unnecessary scenes and far too many unanswered questions, but other than that, it was intriguing and surprising. A lot of scenes gave me chills and goosebumps, so, yay for the thrilling part! The main plot was pretty good. However, I hated how most of the subplots just... faded away. It's like, "Wait, what happened to that other thing? And that other one? Why are the strings just left hanging?" So that was upsetting.

   So, like I said in the beginning, this is just a rant. If you've read this entire rant, you deserve an award. Seriously!

   Shadow Hills is a thrilling debut that'll leave readers sleeping with the lights on.

   This is the first time I've given this rating... 1 key.


  1. WOW! This book does sound really awful and now I am in no hurry to read my copy that's been sitting in the closet for well over a year. Phe sounds so annoying! I hate heroines that are too stupid to live! And bad writing??? Ick. And the romance??? OMG I would be so annoyed. Yeah, my copy will be collecting dust for a long while.

  2. Ooh, darn! I've heard pretty much exclusively only good things about this one! It's nice to have the negative aspects of a book pointed out, though. (Even if it was a bit ranty :p) Thanks for your honesty!
    - Lauren

  3. Ah, it's been over a year since I read this one. I remember liking the unusual premise, but now that I read your review, some memories of the cheesiness do come back. I think that in most cases, I just can't believe "I'll die for you" love unless they've known each other several months, minimum. Then it's groovy! :-)

  4. Just read this amazing new YA fiction on Ganesha - Part 1 of the Temple Wars series - I think everyone should check it out! Temple Wars


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