May 18, 2012

Review: Immortal

By: Gillian Shields
Published: August 2009 by Katherine Tegan Books
Format: Hardback, 360 pages
First Reviewed: April 2011
Buy: Barnes & Noble//Books-A-Million//Amazon//Book Depository
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First love never dies.

Wyldcliffe Abbey School for Young Ladies, housed in a Gothic mansion on the bleak northern moors, is elite, expensive, and unwelcoming. When Evie Johnson is torn away from her home by the sea to become the newest scholarship student, she is more isolated than she could have dreamed. Strict teachers, snobbish students, and the oppressive atmosphere of Wyldcliffe leave Evie drowning in loneliness.
Evie's only lifeline is Sebastian, a rebellious, mocking, dangerously attractive young man she meets by chance. As Evie's feelings for Sebastian grow with each secret meeting, she starts to fear that he is hiding something about his past. And she is haunted by glimpses of a strange, ghostly girl—a girl who is so eerily like Evie, she could be a sister. Evie is slowly drawn into a tangled web of past and present that she cannot control. And as the extraordinary, elemental forces of Wyldcliffe rise up like the mighty sea, Evie is faced with an astounding truth about Sebastian, and her own incredible fate.
Gillian Shields's electrifying tale will dazzle readers with suspense, mysticism, and romance.

Rating: 3/5

This was a re-read because I have the sequel that I haven't read yet, and I read this back in '09, so I needed to refresh my memory. Anyway, my first thoughts: My name! And not just Evie, but it's short for Evelyn, which, *cough*, is MY name! Whoo! Okay, moving on...

Five words: England, Strict Gothic Boarding School. Okay, more than five words: England, Strict Gothic Boarding School, with ties to the Victorian Era. Do I need to explain to you why I loved it? For those of you who don't know...I adore all of those things.

The majority of the characters were just okay, many being pretty one-dimensional. I didn't dislike the characters, and some I even really liked. What I had a problem with was Evie. At times she was just...oh, what's the word I'm looking for...? Obtuse. I really wanted to smack her for being so slow to connect some of the obvious things. But then on the other hand, she jumped in to other things way too fast. In a way, she was just kind of all over the place and annoyed me at times. The minor characters, I felt, were pretty good, but some were just too one-dimensional. Then when it came to Sebastian, the male lead, he was just too..."Oh Evie...Oh Evie, I love you, but oh Evie, I can't be around you," too much for my liking. Again, though, I didn't dislike the characters, I just felt they could have been developed a bit more.

I enjoyed the writing style, however. I felt the narrative and dialogue flowed very well. What few things did bother me were the excessive ellipses, overdone physical appearance traits (sometimes), the random shifts to present tense (which I could not figure out their purpose), and the fact that after diary entries, the next chapter almost always started with the same sentence, or a variation of the same sentence, that the diary entry ended with. It was cool at times, but then it just became annoying. And lastly, sometimes Shields did slip in the cheesy-ness. I found myself saying "Duh!" quite a few times. However, Shields has one of those gifts in which she can paint a picture without using too many words. She knows how to pull you into a story, which I thought was great.

What I liked about the plot was that Shields managed to put an original spin on the immortal thing using elements and an interesting family tie-in. I also, for some reason, can read through this whole book in one setting, but I can't really figure out why, though that's still a plus in my book. My problems lay with the pacing of this. (If you've read the description, none of the following should be a spoiler): I felt Sebastian and Evie fell for each other way too quickly. It was literally within a couple of chapters that Evie went from "Who is this guy? I don't think I should be around him," to "I love him and have to see him." There were also some scenes I felt were cut short or unneeded. The relationships with friends also felt rushed and just too simple. But I did enjoy the premise of this.

I felt this would have been stronger in third person. The switches to diary entries that weren't from our narrator felt a little off, especially since our narrator didn't read the diary until near the end. It just might have worked a bit better, in my opinion.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. While it's not really amazing, it's a nice read that I can start and finish in one setting and I can picture everything without trying, which I always love. And I am excited to read the sequel.

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