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Have You Been Half Asleep? And Have You Heard Voices?

A review of Elizabeth George's YA debut, The Edge of Nowhere, which unfortunately does NOT feature sexy-and-emotionally-damaged detective inspectors, or their caustic-with-deep-hidden-feelings sergeants.

Have You Been Half Asleep? And Have You Heard Voices?

BOOK REPORT for The Edge of Nowhere by Elizabeth George

Cover Story: Gettin' Textual
BFF Charm: Maybe
Swoonworthy Scale: 1
Talky Talk: Tries Too Hard
Bonus Factors: Whidbey Island, Danger
Relationship Status: Friends With Potential

Cover Story: Gettin' Textual

I cheated a bit and put the UK/AU cover up instead of the US, because it's prettier (and I couldn't find a big enough image of the US cover), but the covers are basically the same. The US one is green instead of blue, but otherwise, they're mostly BIG NAMES AND WORDS and just a small strip of face. I'm cool with that, honestly. It beats the hell out of this alternate cover I saw out there (coming soon to a Cover Story post near you).

The Deal:

Becca King's sociopathic stepfather wants to kill her. Like, for real kill her, not just ground her for a week for breaking curfew. So she and her mother go on the run, and her mother dumps her off on Washington State's Whidbey Island, en route from San Diego to Canada. Unfortunately for Becca, the friend of her mother's she's supposed to stay with just died, she can't get her mother's cell phone, and she has no idea if she can trust anyone. What Becca CAN do is hear people's thoughts -- she calls them whispers -- but she's not sure how to understand the snatches she gets. It's going to be tough trying to survive until her mom comes back, without arousing suspicion or tipping off the police to her whereabouts.

BFF Charm: Maybe

I'm not quite sure if I'm ready to give Becca my BFF charm. I'm surprisingly cool with her being able to sense some of my thoughts, since she's pretty hopeless at figuring them out most of the time, but I didn't get much of a sense of WHO Becca was (I mean, besides the obvious "Duh, she's in hiding" stuff). I have no idea what she likes to eat, or do for fun, or even if she likes to read, and that is totally crucial for a BFFship. I just know she's scared, which is the only reason I'm excusing her whininess. Maybe as the series unfolds I'll get to know her better, but for now I'm hanging on to my charm.

Swoonworthy Scale: 1

Becca immediately starts crushing (not instalove, though) on Derric, from whom she gets not just whispers, but scents and emotions. He's sweet -- he's in the Big Brothers program, he puts up with the world's biggest bitch because he knows she needs a friend, and he helps Becca out with being the new girl -- and he's hot, but he ends up not being around for most of the book, and it's hard to develop many swoony feelings when one person's MIA. There are some cute scenes, but I felt like the whole swoon system was derailed by the introduction of an is-it-or-isn't-it love triangle. The other boy is just … ick. I'm too old for hippie musician boys.

Talky Talk:

I love Elizabeth George's Inspector Lynley novels, and in them she writes some compelling, believable teenagers (cross dressing Kimmo in With No One As Witness is one, and of course Ness and Toby in What Came Before He Shot Her), so I was looking forward to seeing her take on YA. The book is good -- it definitely doesn't read like a cash-grab by an adult author -- but I wish George hadn't been so aware of her intended audience's age. There are lots of awkward swear censor moments, like, "She said a lot of gutter words," (a paraphrase).

I wish George had just written a novel like she usually does, in her usual voice, without trying to adapt it to a teen audience. Sure, some of the vocabulary in the Lynley novels is advanced, but the tone and style are perfectly fine as they are -- there was no need to try to soften them up (I'm trying really, REALLY hard to avoid saying, "dumb down," because I honestly don't think that's what she was doing).

The paranormal premise is handled pretty nicely -- it's just a thing Becca can do, like a naturally heightened sense, not a result of a government experiment or magic or radiation, and that's a nice change. And! There are no vampires or werewolves in these PNW woods!

Bonus Factor: Whidbey Island

This always seems to be the place where PNW horror movies are set -- misty, mysterious, creepy, peopled by tight-lipped locals and weirdo transplants. It's a great setting for the book.

Bonus Factor: Danger

The suspense here is good, and Becca is in totally believable danger. Her stepdad's a charming sociopath, and the cops don't know he can't be trusted, so Becca being a total freakshow about trusting people was understandable rather than frustrating.

Casting Call:

Kay Panabaker as Becca

Relationship Status: Friends With Potential

I was excited about my date with this book, and while it was a bit of a letdown, I'm willing to be friends and see how things play out. Maybe the chemistry's just late blooming; at the very least, the next time we hang out, we'll have a good time -- even if it's just platonic.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my review copy from Viking. I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!). Edge of Nowhere is available now.

Meghan Miller's photo About the Author: Meghan is an erstwhile librarian in exile from Texas and writer for Forever Young Adult. She loves books, cooking and homey things like knitting and vintage cocktails. Although she’s around books all the time, she doesn’t get to read as much as she’d like.