So. This was unpleasant.
I bought this book, unaware that a) Alyson Noel is a notoriously careless and, to be blunt, horrible writer; and b) that this book was part of a spin-off series– I had thought it was a stand-alone book. So, you could say I went into this book with little to no expectations, having read nothing of this writer before and having not read the main series (which, honestly, I'll probably never do).Plot
The book follows Riley Bloom, a young girl who died alongside her parents in an accident and tells of her time in the after-life as she becomes a Soul Catcher, whose job is to help other souls cross the bridge into the after-life.
It's boring. That's all I can really say.
I should have expected this, since it's such a thin book, but everything happens very quickly. Start of the book, boom, you're introduced to Riley (and quickly pick up on her bratty personality), her purpose in the after-life, and her love interest– a guy named Bodhi who is berated by Riler for not dressing like Joe Jonas.
That's right. You read that correctly. Joe Jonas
Besides the obvious unwritten law that writers should never include modern pop culture in their novels, since it ages terribly within a matter of months, this just further enhances Riley's brattiness levels.
The plot is bare and very weak as a whole.Characters
As mentioned above, Riley is horrible
. The most annoyingly selfish twelve-year-old that ever was. Her so-called 'character development'
happens so quickly– in a matter of four or five pages, really– that it's completely unrealistic. She can apparently conquer all her fears and doubts in less than a chapter. Okay, riiiight.
Bodhi is... weird. Awkward and weird. I mean, he's supposed to be a tragic love interest of sorts– mimicking the main series love interest, from what I understand– but it just comes off... weird. Maybe it's because the book is told through Riley's point of view and she's a twelve-year-old, or maybe it's Noel's writing (probably the latter), but as a character, he's just... NOkay
And then you've got these three boys who are Riley's first assignment, and I don't even know what the hell's going on with them. Like, I can't explain them to you despite having read and re-read their chapter whilst writing this review.The Writing
Honestly, one of the biggest challenge a writer faces when writing from the perspective of a character not in their age range is establishing a consistent voice. Noel failed miserably at this. At times Riley sounds like a third-grader, at others she gains this weird old-man-like wisdom, and, of course, her inner thoughts are peppered with pop culture references– which, as I mentioned, is really, really
bad in a book, because that book will most definitely not withstand the test of time.
Of course, Noel's writing style in and of itself annoys me. It lacks flow, consistency, or literary qualities, and it's just unpleasant to read.The Cover
The cover is what fooled me into thinking this would be a pleasant read. It's a gorgeous cover– I'll at least admit that. Really, the title font, the girl's, the bridge in the background, the flower field– it's all really eye-catching. Too bad it's also misleading.Final Rating
: 1 star.