Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Review: Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus

Hi all!

Another YA review, surprise surprise :)

Title: Shadow Hills
Series: Shadow Hills #1
Release date: 10th of May 2011
Published by: Egmont USA
Reading level: FICTION – JUVENILE: Contemporary, Paranormal
Pages: 388 in Paperback
Source: Bought from the Bookdepository

Since her sister’s mysterious death, Persephone “Phe” Archer has been plagued by a series of disturbing dreams. Determined to find out what happened to her sister, Phe enrolls at Devenish Prep in Shadow Hills, Massachusetts—the subject of her sister’s final diary entry.

After stepping on campus, Phe immediately realizes that there’s something different about this place—an unexplained epidemic that decimated the town in the 1700s, an ancient and creepy cemetery, and gorgeous boy Zach—and somehow she’s connected to it all.

But the more questions she asks and the deeper she digs, the more entangled Phe becomes in the haunting past of Shadow Hills. Finding what links her to this town . . . might cost her life.
Broadly speaking this is your typical YA: girl goes to new town-finds friends-meets hot guy with unexplainable abilities-encounters heaps of the supernatural-solves the mystery of the town-etc. It would be quite a text book example of this common plot line, if it weren’t for the twist in what type of supernatural element this story employs. It’s different and thus it’s exciting and fresh, I very much enjoyed this direction in the plot.
Another aspect that takes it apart from other such books is the strong emphasis on various characters and their relationships. I was over the moon that Phe made several friends, spent time with them, went to parties, not only swooned over this guy she didint’t even know that well forgetting the company and importance of friends. The lack of parental presence left me slightly iffy but then again it was quite convenient and even believable if we consider that the story revolves around a boarding school.
A complaint would be that in my mind the mystery/supernatural element wasn’t really realized to its full potential and much was left unexplained or to be explored.
Phe was a fun, easygoing heroine, she felt like a really good friend to have around. Despite the death of her sister and her trying to solve the mystery of Shadow Hills, she wasn’t an angsty teenager and didn’t wallow in self-pity, self isolation and with the mindset that that no one understands her and she doesn’t even want anyone to understand her. Overall, she behaved like you typical teenager. She partied, hanged around friends, crushed (not stalked or was obsessed with) on a hot guy, actually drank alcohol (I know I know her being a minor and all, but, honestly, seeing all these YA characters not consume a drop of it comes across very unrealistic), etc. She was, in general, easy to like and identify with. In addition, she got into some hilarious situations.
Zach was the ultimate good guy, he was just so squeaky clean and pure and boy scout-y and perfect boyfriend material. Despite not being the most shining with his character, I found him very likable and interesting, warm fuzzy and loveable, not to mention gorgeous and gentlemanly. His feelings for Phe were boyish and adorable, plus I loved his protective side but at the same time not being smothering. Phe you lucky girl!
There were so many other characters that got their fare share of the spotlight:
Graham – now that is a friend I could never just stay friends with! Fun, cute and easy to hang around with.
Brody – your local friendly stoner dude.
Corinne – mega mean girl who you’re really unable to hate that much because there is logic and reasons to her behavior. The “evil” sister of the hero.
Adriana – couldn’t really care about her in the beginning but she grew on me. Pretty little spoiled rich girl who actually turned out to be a good friend for Phe and the others.
Trent – he was such a clichéd bad boy that it was somewhat funny at one point. Well, what YA is fully equipped without one of those?
Toy – cute nerdy girl… that’s basically it.
The “bad guy” in the story, however, didn’t really do it for me, there was a slight lack of reason, believability and logic there. But that’s just me.
In a sense it was quite an original book in the midst of hundreds and hundreds of YA books, but on the other side it’s your typical YA. I enjoyed it and found it refreshing in several aspects, so if you’re looking for an oldie plot with a newer twist then this is your story.

4 stars!



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