Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Review of Shadow Hills
Author: Anastasia Hopcus
Publisher: EgmontUSA (July 13, 2010)
Reading Level: Young Adult
Source: ARC for review
Description (as taken from GoodReads):
His love captivated her... his secrets might kill her.
Since her sister’s mysterious death, Persephone “Phe” Archer has been plagued by a series of disturbing dreams. Determined to find out what happened to her sister, Phe enrolls at Devenish Prep in Shadow Hills, Massachusetts—the subject of her sister’s final diary entry.
After stepping on campus, Phe immediately realizes that there’s something different about this place—an unexplained epidemic that decimated the town in the 1700s, an ancient and creepy cemetery, and gorgeous boy Zach—and somehow she’s connected to it all.
But the more questions she asks and the deeper she digs, the more entangled Phe becomes in the haunting past of Shadow Hills. Finding what links her to this town…might cost her her life.
I have been interested in reading Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus since November 2009 when I heard about it from Kami Garcia. I quickly added it to the list of the books I intended to read for The Story Siren's (Kristi) 2010 Debut Author Challenge And then in late December 2009, I won an ARC contest from Anastasia Hopcus which included the first chapter of Shadow Hills. As I came to the end of the first chapter, I felt like a cruel joke was being played on me. What?! No more to read?! Consequently, I became giddy when I actually obtained an advance reader's copy of Shadow Hills.
In an effort to write a spoiler-free review, I am going to focus on how Shadow Hills lives up to my "this is a good book" criteria. My criteria looks at readability, characters, twists on the paranormal theme, and ease in recommending it.
There were two things that quickly jumped out at me while I was reading Shadow Hills. An author should write in a way that engages the reader from the first chapter. I am pretty adamant about this. There are too many good books out there to waste time struggling through the first 100 pages of a book waiting for something to happen or for it to become interesting. Just as with reading the first chapter of the book, when I was able to finally sit down and read Hopcus's novel, I didn't want to put it down. I wanted to find out more about Persephone “Phe” Archer and the world of Shadow Hills. Part of what really gripped me was how Hopcus is able to reveal her characters' secrets without confusing me or irritating the heck out of me.
As for Anastasia Hopcus's characters, may I just say one word - Zach. Yes, hot boy with powers. I truly think I have a new fictional love interest. Despite Zach's hotness factor, what really is brilliant on Hopcus's part is that both Phe and Zach are equally matched. I am not going to reveal too much because I would then be spoiling it for readers, but let's just say that Phe is no wimpy teenage girl. I will also say I loved all of the secondary characters. There are some characters that you should really dislike and some that you should really like. Plus, I liked Phe's friends despite their very realistic flaws.
My third criteria is a difficult one for many books. There seems to be only so many twists or variations on the same theme. Shadow Hills was refreshing in that I didn't feel like I was reading the same vampire/werewolf/faery/angel book that populates the shelves of bookstores in over abundance. The history of Zach, his family and the townies and the evolution of their gifts and abilities was fascinating. Phe's ability is different than Zach's but presents with its own unique history. Though the connection between the two was not fully developed, I truly sensed that this was intentional and that in the next book we will gain a deep understanding of the connection between the two.
Can I recommend Shadow Hills? That would be a definite YES! Enough said!
After reading the book, I did have one thing I struggled with but you will probably laugh when you hear it. Let me just say, I grew up in New England. I went to college in New Hampshire and I lived in Massachusetts. And I have lived in Los Angeles. October is cold in Massachusetts. After all these years living in Southern California, when I go home, I freeze. Phe is from Los Angeles. When I think about her clothes, I just kept wanting to run after her with a jacket or a heavy duty sweatshirt yelling "You forgot something." See I told you that you would laugh?!
Shadow Hills is a great debut novel, and I am already pining for book 2. Really, Hopcus has to stop doing this to me. I am totally looking forward to seeing how Phe's abilities grow and how she learns more about her connection to Shadow Hills. And well, yeah, I want more Zach but that goes without saying.
Contest: Here's your chance to win a copy of and ARC of Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus -You will get one point for each item below (for every point you get an additional entry). The more items that you complete the more chances to win.
1. Leave a comment about why you are interested in winning the book
2. Tweet about this contest - please include @alybee930 in the tweet so I can keep track of the tweets
3. Comment it about the contest on your Facebook Page (leave the link in the comments section)
This contest is open to International Readers as well as those living in the United States.
Contest will end on Sunday, June 27, 2010.