Thursday, August 11, 2011

Review: Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus

Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus

Pages: 391
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Published: July 13th, 2010
IBSN: 9781606840832

After her sister Athena's tragic death, it's obvious that grief-stricken Persephone "Phe" Archer no longer belongs in Los Angeles. Hoping to make sense of her sister's sudden demise and the cryptic dreams following it, Phe abandons her bubbly LA life to attend an uptight East Coast preparatory school in Shadow Hills, MA — a school which her sister mysteriously mentioned in her last diary entry before she died.

Once there, Phe quickly realizes that something is deeply amiss in her new town. Not only does Shadow Hills' history boast an unexplained epidemic that decimated hundreds of its citizens in the 1700s, but its modern townies also seem eerily psychic, with the bizarre ability to bend metal. Even Zach — the gorgeous stranger Phe meets and immediately begins to lust after — seems as if he is hiding something serious. Phe is determined to get to the bottom of it. The longer she stays there, the more she suspects that her sister's untimely death and her own destiny are intricately linked to those who reside in Shadow Hills.

Reading Shadow Hills felt like going back in time to where all the books I read were paranormal romances cut from the same cloth. During this I wasn't feeling what the characters were, but feeling nostalgic, laughing "recurring dream sequence at the beginning! Old pal!" and "love interest who's so suddenly and deeply in love with our protagonist that he confesses his uber-secret non-human species! It's been too long!"

So I kind of regarded Shadow Hills like small child that is annoying but also kind of endearing for it.

Shadow Hills follows Persephone (a goddess being her namesake turns out to be almost completely inconsequential) -- Phe -- as she goes to a new boarding school that her sister mentioned before her death, in order to understand her better (because she's grieving. You know she's grieving because she tells you that she is. Her usually-chipper tone will try to convince you otherwise). There, our curious protagonist soon meets three attractive boys: one, a best friend; another, the love interest; the last, evil-seeming. The latter two seem to have some huge, long-buried secret, which she naturally (and somewhat inconsiderately) tries to unearth.

The writing style struck me as pretty standard. I didn't find it particularly noteworthy, though it was smooth in a way that made me able to read it fairly quickly. It didn't do much to help me get to know our main character or evoke any emotion, but it was good for simply telling a story.

The background characters were at extremes. Adriana was a brat, Graham was the helpful best friend, and Toy was the loveable, awkward friend. But exaggerated to where eye-rolling is triggered by any dialogue. Trent was...Trent was almost comically evil. He asks Phe out, gets rejected, and responds (paraphrased, possibly playing it DOWN) "Good. Now I can ask someone actually worth my time." He was just...too much.

The romances felt unnatural and forced. Our main character scouts out the most attractive guy and they become a couple, and then everyone else seems to just shrugs and grab the nearest person of the opposite gender.

Overall, Shadow Hills proved to me to be mostly another of those dime a dozen paranormal romances. It used the standard plot and character templates, but had a few more interesting embellishments.

I give Shadow Hills a 3 out of 5.

This has been a not-entirely-serious review brought to you by a Skye In A Surprisingly Jubilant Mood!