May 17, 2012

Review: Deception

By: Lee Nichols
Published: June 2010 by Bloomsbury
Format: Paperback, 310 pages
First Reviewed: July 2011
Buy: Barnes & Noble//Books-A-Million//Amazon//Book Depository
Add it on Goodreads

"Once more, Emma?" he asked. "Or will you answer me now?"

When Emma Vaile's parents leave on mysterious business trip, it gives her the perfect excuse to be a rebellious teen. Throw some parties, get a tattoo (or maybe just a piercing), and enjoy the first few weeks of her junior year. Then her best friend stops talking to her, the cops crash her party, and Emma finds herself in the hands of a new guardian—her college-age "knight in J.Crew armor," Bennett Stern—and on a plane to his museum-like mansion in New England.
After enrolling at Thatcher Academy, Emma settles in by making friends with the popular legacy crowd. But she can't shake the strange visions that are haunting her. She has memories of Thatcher she can't explain, as if she's returning home to a place she's never been. Emma doesn't trust anyone anymore—except maybe Bennett. But he's about to reveal a ghostly secret to Emma. One that will explain the visions . . . and make Emma fear for her life.

Rating: 1.5/5

There's a creepy mansion on the front, the description mentions ghosts, and I love creepy mansions and ghosts with a odd passion. So, naturally, I would love this...right? Unfortunately, I didn't. There were parts and elements I enjoyed, but overall, I just couldn't get into this.

To the say it simply: This felt like early writing. The kind of writing that new writers have with their first few books, unless they're prodigies. And now, realizing Nichols has written five adult books, I have a feeling the writing felt this way because it's her first YA. Almost like she thinks she has to make things more simple. Of course, maybe it's just her writing. Either way, it felt too "new" to me.

For the first third-ish of the book, while the narrative was easy to read, I had a hard time getting into it. One thing I didn't care for was the sudden "talking to the reader" lines Nichols gave Emma. They took me out of the story, not to mention it contributed to the "newness" I felt.

Despite the fact that I found a few errors--ahem, editors--I don't have many negative things to say about the writing. It was just too new. Too simple. The few bits of prose where Nichols focused on Emma's feelings and thoughts were either spent showing how conflicted Emma was about her romantic feelings, or on attempting to give the reader some kind of realistic emotions from her. It just wasn't up to par for me. Not bad, just too new.

Sigh. I should have known after the month of several strong leads, I would be coming across one who I just didn't care for. Emma was that one. At times, I did like her, but usually that was only when she was involved in scenes that didn't involve the love interest and a half. The rest of the time she annoyed me, 90% of the time wishing her crush loved her back, 9% of the time easily coming to terms with her sudden abilities, and 1% of the time worrying about things any person who loved their family would be worrying about. There were very few qualities of her that I related to and she's very forgettable to me.

The other characters were just blah for me. They weren't too fleshed out for me. I liked them all right, but they just didn't stand out from each other or from other books' characters. Some of them have these strong pasts that would have--should have--changed the way they acted and we should have felt their inner pain and their drive. Instead, we just got some backstories that didn't really have an impact. They were more "let's give them these backstories to give more to them," instead of "let me show these characters have more to them than they appear, etc., etc., and this is why."

Overall, I just wanted more from these characters. They just didn't have enough oomf for me to really care about them. I feel, though, that they had a lot of potential. The overall outline of them--the basis of their personalities--was very good. They just could have been executed better.

Gosh darnit! You can't throw creepy mansions and the word "ghosts" at me and then not have to live up to their awesomeness. To say the least: I was disappointed in this. In the beginning, I had a feeling I wouldn't care for it. It bored me for quite while, and I feel as though it could have been fleshed out a bit more. When the plot picked up, I was invested pretty well, but it just wasn't amazing. It felt like every other paranormal book just with ghosts instead of demons. I loved the overall premise, with ghostkeeping, but I just don't think it was done originally.

What I didn't like the most was that I never got emotion from Emma except once, and even then it wasn't believable for me because of her lack of emotions up until then. The entire time I felt like I was reading a story instead of "seeing" it. It was more "this happened, then this, and I don't like this, I don't like that, then this happened, and this." And it didn't really grab me. By the end, I was bored again. The climax could have been better and more intense, as could every creepy element in this. Never once did my heart race like it should have, and I was annoyed with the amount of time Emma spent obsessing over Bennett.

There was so much that could have been amazing with this overall premise, and I did like some of the elements that I'll avoid saying so I don't spoil, but it just wasn't done justice. The pacing was too fast for me, nothing was creepy, and the Emma just wasn't a strong enough lead for me.

Other: Can I just say that I do not like the cover at all? The girl on the front is just too fake for me, and books with fake people always turn me off. Ha! Completely random fact. Also, if you notice, there are two versions of it. One with the girl's hair behind her ear, and then this one. Check the author's page on Goodreads and you'll see. Anyway, I also have to say that this book was another one of the cases where there were too many elements thrown in. I would have liked less.

I actually went back and forth between two and three stars with this one. I know it doesn't seem like it if you read the above review, but I did like it all right, as it held my attention throughout the middle. But it just lacked the emotion from Emma that would have only been realistic, the intensity I was looking for, and the original elements just weren't originally executed. Overall, I just wanted more from this.

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