It was a beautiful, warm summer day, the day Danny died.
Suddenly Wren was alone and shattered. In a heartbroken fury, armed with dark incantations and a secret power, Wren decides that what she wants—what she must do—is to bring Danny back.
But the Danny who returns is just a shell of the boy Wren fell in love with. His touch is icy; his skin, smooth and stiff as marble; his chest, cruelly silent when Wren rests her head against it.
Wren must keep Danny a secret, hiding him away, visiting him at night, while her life slowly unravels around her. Then Gabriel DeMarnes transfers to her school, and Wren realizes that somehow, inexplicably, he can sense the powers that lie within her—and that he knows what she has done. And now Gabriel wants to help make things right.
But Wren alone has to undo what she has wrought—even if it means breaking her heart all over again.
I liked this book a lot more than I thought I would, but was still very let down by a few aspects of it.
The writing was lovely. I'll say that right off the bat, because that was one of the things I really, really liked. You all know I'm a big fan of lovely writing. It was lyrical and powerful but never strayed into over-written. It drove the whole story and made it so much easier to connect to Wren and all the crazy things she was feeling.
But Wren herself I was a little iffy on. Sometimes I loved her, sometimes I wanted to slap some sense into her. I loved that Garvey didn't try and paint her as the perfect heroine, how Wren acknowledged that she was selfish and reckless and just generally terrible at making decisions. I loved that I could feel everything she was going through, all the pain and confusion and regret and loss all bundled into one small, powerful girl. I loved the way the power was just sort of a part of her, and the way Aunt Mari had explained it; like electricity, and they simply knew how to tap into it.
I didn't love how she swooned for the hot new guy as soon as he came on the scene, despite the fact that her dead boyfriend was still in her neighbor's garage. I didn't love how she strung Gabriel along, using him but then freaking out at him for trying to help. I didn't love how she asked the stereotypical heroine question about three times--"Why do you like me?"
You may notice that all my dislikes of her revolve around Gabriel. That's because my main problem with the book revolves around Gabriel.
I think this book could've been really, truly beautiful if he did not exist. If it was not about sending Danny to heaven because a hot boi came along, but simply about Wren and Danny and their past and their present, about Wren coping with the loss of his death and the knowledge that he never really came back, about her reconnecting with her friends and her family and her life. So, yeah, maybe the little teen fangirls thirsty for fresh blood (no pun intended) would've been disappointed by the lack of a supernatural hot guy. But the genuine book lovers? The people who can appreciate a good story? No. Not at all. Not the slightest bit. This book still had some depth to it, but not nearly the amount it could have had if Gabriel simply did not exist.
It's not that I hated Gabriel. He was better than a lot of PNR guys that girls fantasize about. But he was also the stereotypical hot, brooding, falls-for-the-girl-the-instant-he-sees-her even though she's "nothing special" love interest that we see far too often these days. He had his moments, but the two of them moved far, far too quickly, and I never felt their chemistry like I felt Wren and Danny's.
The flashbacks with Wren and Danny were lovely. By the time the book is coming to a close, the reader has a very strong feel for Wren and Danny's relationship, and it was adorable and sweet and real. I genuinely felt that she loved him and he loved her and her without him was like a puzzle missing a crucial piece. The only thing I did not like was a quote at the very beginning of the book, where Wren talks about how her relationship with him became her entire life, and then how "that's the kind of love they write movies about." This was not actually true--she didn't just shun her friends and family while she and Danny were in a relationship, we learn later. But that is what the prologue said, and it really bothered me. Because no, that is not the kind of love they write movies about. That is not love at all. When one boy becomes more important to you than the family and friends you've known for your entire life, that is obsession, and should not be dressed up as anything else.
The only other thing that bothered me in this book was that the whole dad thing was never wrapped up. I seriously respect Garvey for writing a stand-alone PNR, because these days that's almost unheard of. Most of 'em like to milk the cash cow for all its worth. However, there wasn't any explanation as far as Wren's dad was concerned. It's one thing to have an open ending and another to explain nothing whatsoever.
I debated between 3 and 4 stars for this one. Settled with 3, but it's more of a 3.5. It's a good read with good writing, just could've been a lot more powerful.