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Kill The Suspense

You don't need a sixth sense to spot the weakness in Shadowlands.

Kill The Suspense

BOOK REPORT for Shadowlands by Kate Brian

Cover Story: Over-Consulted
BFF Charm: Nay
Swoonworthy Scale: 3
Talky Talk: Paperback Writer
Bonus Factors: Mystery, Beach Town
Anti-Bonus Factor: M. Night Shyamalan
Relationship Status: Fake Name Basis

Cover Story: Over-Consulted

Picture this: Disney Hyperion is looking for the hottest cover for their latest YA acquisition. They want it to be trendy! They want it to be edgy! They want it to connect with Today's Youth. So, of course, they bring in some consultants.

Consultant #1: Look, it's really quite simple. Put a bird on it.

Disney: But what does that have to do with the story?

Consultant #2: Story? Who cares about story? Birds are SO HOT RIGHT NOW.

Consultant #1: Oooh, and a FANCY DRESS!

Consultant #2: OMG you are GENIUS.

Disney: But the main character is living in a beach town. And she wears sweatshirts.

Consultant #1: Sweatshirts? No one's going to buy a book with SWEATSHIRTS on the cover. We need HIGH FASHION.

Disney: But what using some creepy beach scenery? There's some great fog scenes in the book and...

Consultant #2: Do you see teenagers shopping at the mall for FOG? They don't want FOG. They want FANCY DRESSES.

Consultant #1: And JUSTIN BIEBER. Is there any way we can slip him in somewhere? Ooh, we could use the fog to create an image of HIS FACE.

Disney: Ooookaay, I'll have to draw the line at Justin Bieber. But fine, we can do the rest. Except the main character is blonde, so we'll need to find a blonde model.

Consultant #2: Suuure, sure. We'll get you a blonde model. Now, just sign this contract...

The Deal:

Rory Miller has always remained below the radar. After her mother died, she made sure to give her dad space, and she never rocks the boat like her older sister, Darcy. So when she's attacked and almost killed by her teacher, Mr. Nell, who turns out to be a wanted serial killer, it's surprisingly easy for her to enter the Witness Protection Program and start a new life. It's much harder, however, to block out the nightmares of her attack and the fear that Mr. Nell will return to finish the job. Determined to adapt, Rory and Darcy begin to explore their new home in Juniper Landing, a quiet, idyllic island brimming with friendly locals and summer tourists. But things aren't necessarily as they seem, and Rory quickly discovers that she's not the only one keeping secrets.

BFF Charm: Nay

I had a hard time getting to know Rory, and not because she was in the Witness Protection Program. The book starts out with a bang, and the subsequent action sort of swept away any chance for us to get to know each other. I understand that the circumstances were rather dramatic and distracting, but I've always heard that people form strong bonds in a crisis, and that never happened with Rory and me. She was nice, but she was also a flat list of cliches-- a nerdy goody-goody damaged by her family baggage. Obviously, I wanted her to survive (especially because that experience would make her a more interesting person), but the closest thing we'll ever have to a sleepover is her hiding under my bed. (While I am on vacation. Ain't no WAY I'm sticking around to meet Mr. Nell.)

Swoonworthy Scale: 3

After she moves to Juniper Landing, Rory meets Tristan, a mysterious, gorgeous boy who seems to alternate between stalking her and ignoring her. The problem with Tristan is that he's described as being hot, but nothing he does is particularly hot. Really, he was a waste of perfectly good adjectives. I was curious about his M.O., so I understood why Rory was intrigued by his character, but I failed to feel any sparks between them.

Talky Talk: Paperback Writer

You know those spinning wire racks of paperbacks in the library? The ones filled with flashy stories of spies, detectives and killers? I was a frequent visitor to those racks when I was a tween, and this novel would have spiced up my otherwise boring summer day. It's packed with thrills and chills, and there's not much substance to bog you down. Kate Brian writes at a quick clip, and she keeps the dialogue basic but believable. As I mentioned above, the action supersedes any character development, so the emotional impact of the story hovers around zero, which can be a problem when you're supposed to be rooting for certain characters. There's a few sizable plot holes (some more difficult to ignore than others), and they trip Brian up when she attempts to psyche out the reader. (I'll be ranting more about that below.)

Bonus Factor: Mystery

It might be stretching it to call this novel a mystery, but I still enjoyed gathering the puzzle pieces of Juniper Landing. (I didn't, however, enjoy how the book put them together.)

Bonus Factor: Beach Town

Sure, it sucks that Rory and her family had to give up their entire lives, but at least they got to move to a charming little beach island! There's a quaint general store and bonfire parties and a dive bar that serves minors and seriously, I need the Witness Protection Program to book my next vacay.

Anti-Bonus Factor: M. Night Shyamalan

Look, I admit it. The first time I saw Sixth Sense, I enjoyed it. I really did! But that sort of twist is basically a one trick pony. And now that pony is dead, and people are still beating it. I WISH THEY WOULD STOP. Without spoiling anything, I can tell you that Kate Brian pulls a few M. Night Shyamalahalala moves in this book, and my mind... was not freaked. In fact, it was rather irritated. Especially when I got to the end. By that point, the only thing blown was my interest in reading the sequel.

Casting Call:

They're both blonde, AND they look great together on The Carrie Diaries.

AnnaSophia Robb as Rory

Austin Butler as Tristan

Relationship Status: Fake Name Basis

From the get-go, this book seemed a little much. But it also offered something different than my usual dates, so when it offered to buy me a drink at the bar, I said yes. Pretty soon, though, I realized that this book was trying WAY too hard to blow my mind, and beneath all of the posturing, there really wasn't much there. Most of our conversation consisted of the book being all, "I'm so crazy, right? How crazy am I? I'M SO CRAZY!" while I chugged my way through a martini. Thankfully, I was able to extricate myself relatively quickly, and when it asked for my info, I gave it a fake name and number. The book is harmless, really, but I'd rather not give it a chance to find me again.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my review copy from Disney Hyperion.  I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!). Shadowlands is available now.

Posh Deluxe's photo About the Author: Sarah lives in Austin, TX, where she programs films at the Alamo Drafthouse. Sarah enjoys fancy cocktails, dance parties and anything that sparkles (except vampires).