The story centers around 5 teenagers, thrown together for a school project. What was brilliant about the characters Rook Hastings has created is how vividly real they are. It’s been a while since I was at school, but I could put the name of one of my old classmates to each and every one of the five. The characters did run the risk of being typical stereotypes, but I think it’s credit to the author that she didn’t just give them recognisable characteristics, but also gave them enough depth so that as a reader it’s easy to become involved with all of them. The book is told in the third person, and this works very well as we are given an insight into their own personal lives, which eventually link up and create a bigger story.
Woodsville is also a fabulous setting. A poor, dingy working class town blighted by sink estates and gang crime it becomes the perfect breeding ground for supernatural horrors. Hastings’ descriptions of Woodsville, nicknamed Wierdsville, are hugely atmospheric. The way she describes the sky, the air, the smells and the oppressive atmosphere in the town make it very easy to imagine and become a part of.
While this book is very spooky, I don’t think it’s too horrific and so would recommend this for most ages from 12+. There isn’t any graphic violence in the book, but it is threatened and suggested. It is quite sinister at times, but I loved that! It certainly beats the Point Horror books I read as a teen. The relationships between the characters are a little flirtatious at times but nothing more. Again I thought Rook Hastings managed to get these dynamics just right and portray the awkwardness and self-consciousness of fledgling relationships between all the characters and it was nice to see it develop, as they became a team.
Nearly Departed isn’t a long read at only 265 pages, and the utterly compelling writing means I found it a very quick read too and had finished within a couple of hours. The entire book though was wonderfully suspenseful and full of twists and turns, so I didn’t really know what was going on until right at the end. This was one of those books I really couldn’t put down and had to drag myself away from to do the things I had to do. Despite having wild guesses throughout, I was still shocked at how things turned out, this is certainly not a predictable read! The only tiny criticism I have is with Jay's Grandfather and his explanations of the paranormal activity, which did leave me a little confused but I'm hoping these are explained in greater detail in the following books. Other than that I loved this book and would highly recommend it. This is a great ghost story with a modern gothic-like feel. There’s a huge cliffhanger at the end and a snippet from the next book in the series that makes sure I’ll be keeping up with the series, as I can’t wait to find out more about Wierdsville!
An Update: Just wanted to add this book to my reading this week as I read it yesterday and it's
The sole survivor in a car crash, which wiped out her family,sixteen-year-old Ever’s life has changed beyond recognition. Not only has she been forced to move to California to live with her aunt, Sabine, but the trauma of the crash has awoken psychic abilities within her. Constantly bombarded with the thoughts and auras of those around her, Ever is struggling to fit into her new high school. That is until the mysterious and handsome Damen shows up. But there’s something odd about Damen. Beside only having eyes for Ever when every other girl is fawning at his feet, he is the only person Ever has met since her accident whose aura is invisible and whose thoughts she can’t read. Who is he and what does his presence mean for Ever?
Evermore is the first book in The Immortals series by Alyson Noël
I didn’t want to start a review comparing this book with Twilight, but really it’s impossible! There ARE a lot of similarities. Ever is the new girl at school, Damen is stunningly handsome and often speaks like he is from another time, he moves so fast it’s like a blur, Wuthering Heights gets a couple of mentions and there’s a bit of creepy watching while she sleeps. BUT it’s also very different, and actually wasn’t what I expected.
I got into this book really easily. It begins with Ever at her new school and flashbacks to the accident, which killed her parents and sister. Ever was instantly interesting, her psychic abilities adding a new unusual dimension. I also felt sympathy for her straightaway and felt that Alyson Noel had created an intriguing and solid teen heroine. Anyone who stumbles across my Twilight reviews (in particular Eclipse) elsewhere on the web will know that I had a massive issue with Bella. Ever’s character is, in my opinion, more likeable, endearing and has a feisty side that makes her more interesting and far less irritating.
I also liked how very little was given away about Damen, so it became difficult to know if he was a good guy or not. From the build up and for most of the book, I thought I knew what Damen was about, but it turned out I was wrong. His character isn’t explored that much in this book, but the foundations are set for future installments and his could be a fascinating story indeed.
Alyson Noël’s writing is incredibly compelling. Her writing is fast paced and makes sure you just can’t stop turning the pages. I kept thinking ‘one more chapter’ then, before I knew it, had read a great chunk of the book. Each chapter is quite short, and she avoids going into monotonous over detail, so the book flows nicely and easily.
While I really enjoyed Evermore, I did find a few flaws, which stopped the book being truly amazing. One of Ever’s psychic abilities is to see dead people, and her little sister Riley is one of them. She plays the part of an irritating younger sister, who just happens to be a spirit who hasn’t quite made it to the other side. Noël writes her as an almost comedic caricature, which could have been amusing in a different book but didn’t really seem to fit well in this one. I think she deserved to be taken a lot more seriously and the reasons of her being there could have been investigated a little more deeply.
I also felt there were inconsistencies with some of Ever’s psychic abilities, in particular the ability to see auras. Long passages would go without this ability being mentioned, and then it seemed to be pulled out the bag occasionally when it was remembered. While there is an aura colour chart at the beginning of the book, there is really no need, as auras are never really discussed with any depth, and when they are it’s obvious and self explanatory.
The romance between Ever and Damen is nicely developed. Rather then just fall straight into his arms, Ever is unsure to begin with and the romance comes slowly. The intensity of the relationship between Ever and Damen builds rapidly towards the end of the book and revelations about both of their pasts leave me eager to read more and hopeful of a dramatic and passionate love affair.
Evermore is the first book in the Immortals series, with Blue Moon due to be released next month in the UK followed by Shadowland, Dark Flame and as yet untitled books 5 & 6. I’ll definitely be keeping up with the series, as despite my criticism’s I did really enjoy it and there is great promise for the rest of the series. While some of the book is a little cheesy and predictable, it’s also original and intriguing with some real breath-holding moments. I found it difficult to put down, got completely absorbed, and left wanting more. I can't wait to read Blue Moon.
My Rating: 3.5/5
Louise Douglas is a writer, based in the West Country just outside Bristol.
The paperback version of her first novel, The Love of My Life, was published by Pan Macmillan in January 2009. A love story with a dark twist, it was long-listed for the Romantic Novel of the Year Award and the Waverton Good Read award and has been widely translated.
Her second fiction book, Missing You, has just been published. (taken from Louise's website www.louisedouglas.co.uk)
Missing You has been shortlisted for the People’s Choice Award in the 2010 Romantic Novelists’ Association Pure Passion Award. The winner will be chosen by public vote and announced on the 16th March. If you've read Missing You and would like to vote, you can do so here
Can you tell us more about your book, Missing You, and where the inspiration came from to write it?
Fen works in a bookshop and is devoted to her young son, Connor, but she keeps herself to herself. Haunted by guilt and a terrible secret, Fen lives a compromised life, isolated from her family, far from home and too afraid of the past to risk becoming close to anyone. She is constantly looking over her shoulder, knowing that one day the truth will catch up with her.
Sean, on the other hand, is enjoying a seemingly perfect life. He has a successful career, lives in his dream home and adores his beautiful wife, Belle, and their six-year-old daughter, Amy. That is until the day Belle announces she has found someone else and wants Sean to move out.
Circumstance throws Fen and Sean together. Slowly their quiet friendship turns into something much deeper and the joy they find in one another eventually gives them the confidence to trust and love again. But will the past tear them apart just as they find happiness?
You can read my review of Missing You here
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