May 16, 2012

Review: Bliss

By: Lauren Myracle
Published: September 2008 by Harry N. Abrams
Format: Hardcover, 444 pages
First Reviewed: April 2011
Buy: Barnes & Noble//Books-A-Million//Amazon//Book Depository
Add it on Goodreads

Bones, says a voice in my head, tomes.

When Bliss’s hippie parents leave the commune and dump her at the home of her aloof grandmother in a tony Atlanta neighborhood, it’s like being set down on an alien planet. The only guide naïve Bliss has to her new environment is what she’s seen on The Andy Griffith Show. But Mayberry is poor preparation for Crestview Academy, an elite school where the tensions of the present and the dark secrets of the past threaten to simmer into violence. Openhearted, naïve Bliss is happy to be friends with anyone. That’s not the way it has ever worked at Crestview, and soon Bliss is at the center of a struggle for power between three girls—two living and one long dead.

Rating: 3/5

It's another case of "Judging a Book by its Cover," but this time it's in the opposite direction than normal. I didn't expect to like this because I don't care for the all, really. I remember seeing this book in the store when it first came out (in '08, I believe), and I never wanted to get it because the cover just didn't grab me. Well, I was wrong about the book.

It was an interesting setting, one that I haven't read, I don't think, in YA book world. 1969 Atlanta, Georgia. Very interesting and different. Overall, I liked it, but I wish we would have gotten more of a tone and visual of the time period, since it would have been much different than now. Though, it was handled pretty well.

At first, I didn't know what to think about Bliss. I wasn't sure if I was going to like her, but I finally got into her head and she became a well-developed character, methinks. Though she did irk me a little with some of her tendencies and how she handled some situations. However, the other lead, is as creepy as they come. Myracle did a fantastic job creating the intrigue with that character while keeping her realistic, but still insanely disturbing. Where some of the characterization fell a bit flat for me was with some of the minor characters (not all of them). Some felt a little too one-dimensional, but then would do things that I felt were out of character. An odd sort of mix of personality for some of them, basically.

The writing was pretty good for me. Main critique first: Italics! Good lord. Combine all the italics in all of the books I've criticized for having too many, and this book will still have more. Anyway, that aside, I felt the narrative was very strong once I got into it. At times it was hard to follow, in the sense that it just had a hard time flowing well. But I did appreciate the style with the journal entries and creepy quotes in between chapters. Myracle did a great job grasping the eerie feeling and the voice of Bliss.

I'm not quite sure if I liked the plot all right or really liked it. Some parts I really enjoyed, while others were just average. Like I've been saying, the creepiness was there, definitely was there. It's what kept me going. I was expecting a bit more mystery, though, and there were some plot elements I felt should have been addressed more and others that were pretty much forgotten by the end of the book. Speaking of the end, it felt rushed. The entire book was leading up to this, and then it was over in the blink of an eye. My other main critique would be that the friendships created in this were a bit too...easy, would be the best way to put it. Some were there within lines, and it just was too fast, I thought. However, I did appreciate that this wasn't a romance. Yes, Bliss gets a boyfriend, but it's a sub-sub-plot. Not too big a deal.

I'm struggling with rating again. While I did thoroughly enjoy reading this, I just can't bring myself to give it four stars. If there had been a bit more with the plot and with tying things together, then I'd probably give it four stars. It was just missing something that I can't quite put my finger on, but it was a pretty decent read.

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