Publication Date: December 23, 2008
Type: Paperback, won
Until three months ago, everything about sixteen-year-old Camelia's life had been fairly ordinary: decent grades; an okay relationship with her parents; and a pretty cool part-time job at an art studio downtown. But when Ben, the mysterious new guy, starts junior year at her high school, Camelia's life becomes far from ordinary.
Rumored to be somehow responsible for his ex-girlfriend's accidental death, Ben is immediately ostracized by everyone on campus. Except for Camelia. She's reluctant to believe he's trouble, even when her friends try to convince her otherwise. Instead she's inexplicably drawn to Ben...and to his touch. But soon, Camelia is receiving eerie phone calls and strange packages with threatening notes. Ben insists she is in danger, and that he can help – but can he be trusted? She knows he's hiding something...but he's not the only one with a secret.
I'm going to be upfront here: I read this book because I expected it to be bad.
Typically, when deciding my latest read, I go for the ones that I think I'll genuinely enjoy. The only exception is when I have just finished a really fantastic book, and I'm aware that any book I read after it won't be as enjoyable as it otherwise might have been; I don't want to do that to a book that I think I WILL be quite fond of, so I tend to steer towards books that I don't expect to be exceptional. My friends' opinions of this one ranged from "meh" to "ich," and I already had a copy, so I thought, Why not?
Well. I was looking for a middling to awful read, and I got one.
This book was far, far too short. At 252 pages, it's exceptionally small for a paranormal read. With a basis like this, you could do so much--delve deeper into the topic of psychometry, expand on the apparently troubling family issues, create real setting and mood and characters.
But this book does none of that. The paranormal aspect is an afterthought, a little quirk to help the story along. Random family drama is thrown in to explain why the fuck this girl isn't telling her parents about life-threatening danger, explained in a paragraph, and resolved in a few sentences. I had scarcely any feel for the setting. The stalking never instilled any real fear in me, even when read alone at night, and when the climax finally came, it was a few pages long, lacking any tension or thrill, and settled in such a ridiculously easy manner that I simply sat there and thought, that's all?
Worst of all, though, are the characters.
Where do I begin? With Kimmie, the idiotic, boy-obsessed "designer" who narrowly loses to Haven for the title of Worst Best Friend in Extence? With Wes, who seems to serve no purpose other than to make innuendos and be a scapegoat to explain away our MC's idiocy? With essentially all the parents mentioned in this story, who were so ridiculously unrealistic that I simply sat there and giggled every time one of their scenes appeared?
Or perhaps Ben and Camelia, our love interest and our heroine. I don't think, in all my days of YA PNR reading, I have ever found a couple less exciting or more devoid of any chemistry whatsoever. Their relationship is based off of secrets, extreme mistrust, stalking, and ~sensuous touches~. I find it hard to get behind a boy that the MC is somewhat terrified of for 90% of the book. I find it hard to get behind a relationship between two people who know scarcely a thing about one another and are so very deep and attached because they talked about dead girlfriends and creepy stalkers and made out.
Also, honestly, what was with the hand porn? These guys would just sort of . . . stroke one another, and it was supposed to be very touching and romantic and wait I wasn't supposed to be laughing hysterically?
Finally, perhaps my biggest pet peeve of all: CAMELIA. IS. A. MORON. A moron! You get stalkerish pictures in the mail, someone mysterious calls you, threatens you, leaves you presents, and breaks into your house and shreds their present to bits. You are told from the psychometric dude that this stalker will KILL YOU.
So you call the police, right? Or you at LEAST tell your parents and let them sort it out. Right?
Camelia tells her friends. And that is it. No parents because, oh no, we wouldn't want to worry them! It's not like your life is in danger or anything! And no police, because a mysterious boy who you know nothing about and who may possibly be a killer says he doesn't trust them!
I just could not with that idiocy. I still don't understand how one manages to live their life with zero care for self preservation.
(Oh, right. The hot boys save them. Of course! Because clearly heroines aren't capable of rescuing themselves and need big, strong men to rescue them every time.)
After all my ranting, you probably expect a 1, but it didn't quite reach that level. The writing, aside from a few awkward descriptions, was quite decent, and Stolarz clearly has a decent sense of humor, though the large majority of these characters' quips are nothing you would ever catch leaving a teen's mouth.
So 2 stars for this one, and a hearty recommendation to stay far, far away from it.