I was looking forward to getting this book from the library, in part due to a glowing review it got on Dark Faerie Tales, and in part due to the gorgeous cover (shallow, moi?). Well, now I read it, and unfortunately I have to second Ana from The Book Smugglers — it was a disappointing experience.
Many reviewers have compared Hush, Hush to Twilight. Not having read Twilight myself (I prefer my vampires non-sparkly, and my female protagonists non-doormat), I can’t comment on that. However, a derivative first novel is nothing new. Terry Brooks’ The Sword of Shannara, for example, was panned as a Tolkien rip-off. P.D. James’ Cover Her Face brings to mind Agatha Christie. Both authors went on to find their own voice and write numerous bestsellers.
There are lots of reviews out there that go into the plot in detail, so I’ll limit myself to the summary from the book’s copyright page (“High school sophomore Nora has always been cautious in her relationships, but when Patch, who has a dark side she can sense, enrolls at her school, she is mysteriously and strongly drawn to him, despite warnings from her best friend, the school counselor, and her own instincts.”) and move right along to explaining my reaction to the book. Reading Hush, Hush was like eating something that was OK going down, but left a bad after-taste in my mouth. The more I thought about the book, the less I liked it. Here are some of the reasons:
- Nora and Patch. There was no chemistry, and no explanation for their mutual attraction. “Verbally and emotionally abusive” does not equal “desirable mate” for me. Neither does “too stupid to live.” (At one point, Nora tries to interrogate Patch’s co-workers for information about him. “Is he a stalker?” is on her question list. I am so not kidding.)
- A major plot issue does not make sense. [spoiler alert] How does “killing my Nephilim will make me human” becomes “if a descendant of my Nephilim sacrifices herself, I will become human.” We must have missed that page from The Book of Enoch.
- Supporting characters, especially Vee (the best friend who is apparently missing a brain), Elliot (does a 180 from “nice guy” to “freaky creep,” with no warning whatsoever), and Coach (the unprofessional biology teacher who would have been fired from any real school).
I know that I am not the target audience, but I sincerely hope that the teenage girls who read this book realize that Nora’s behavior and actions were NOT something to be emulated. Girls, if a guy acts like a total jerk and does not have any redeeming qualities other than “hot hot hot,” it’s best to avoid him. Seriously.
Having said all this, I was interested enough in the premise of the story to put a hold on a library copy of Crescendo, the second book in the series, which comes out in October 2010. I hope that the issues which bothered me so much are just a symptom of Ms. Fitzpatrick’s inexperience as an author, and will go away as she finds her voice and gains confidence as a writer. After all, if I haven’t read Three Bedrooms, One Corpse, book 3 in the Aurora Teagarden series by Charlaine Harris, before Real Murder (book 1), I probably wouldn’t have bothered with it. Harris definitely improved with practice, and Ms. Fitzpatrick can, too.
Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
Publication Date: October 2009
Pages: 391 (Hardcover)
Source: Public Library
Rating: 2 stars (Bad)