I got this book over the summer at the American Library Association Annual Conference in Las Vegas. There is a lot in this book I can’t give away, so excuse me if this seems a little short. Here’s your synopsis from Amazon:
In four hours, Shelby Jane Cooper will be struck by a car.
Shortly after, she and her mother will leave the hospital and set out on a winding journey toward the Grand Canyon.
All Shelby knows is that they’re running from dangers only her mother understands. And the further they travel, the more Shelby questions everything about her past-and her current reality. Forced to take advantage of the kindness of unsuspecting travelers, Shelby grapples with what’s real, what isn’t, and who she can trust . . . if anybody.
Award-winning author Nick Lake proves his skills as a master storyteller in this heart-pounding new novel. This emotionally charged thrill ride leads to a shocking ending that will have readers flipping back to the beginning.
1. The writing is phenomenal, beautiful, and any other good adjective I can attach.
I never read Nick Lake’s Printz Award winning novel, In Darkness, but it is definitely on my list. This is my first experience with his work, and I love his words. He makes even the most mundane things seem poetic and beautiful, which I loved. My only issue (and possible non-issue) with his writing was the extreme hyperboles. I say it may also be a non-issue because we are reading from a teenager’s point of view and teenagers hyperbolize a lot. There is one scene where Shelby talks about crying and then says that she does it for 2,000 years. This narrative is rife with these. As much as it annoys me, it adds to the realness of Shelby. Other than that, though, I really loved the way his writing got me fully invested in this story.
2. I still can’t make up my mind about the main character, Shelby.
I have an issue with main characters like this. In some instances, I love them, but in most instances, I hate them. Shelby is really brave along her journey in the book. Sometimes, though, she really annoys me. I had to keep in mind that she is still a teenager going through…a lot of rough things. There is so much I can’t tell you because I want you to read this so badly! So, let’s just leave it at that. Make up your own mind about Shelby, because she really is quite complex.
3. There is this parallel universe thing happening that may or may not be in Shelby’s head, and I hate it.
So, this parallel universe is full of symbols for Shelby which the reader sees immediately, but Shelby does not see until the end. Every time she fell into the Dreaming (that’s what the parallel universe is called), I rolled my eyes. If these parts were taken out of the book, this would’ve been a five star book for me. I would have like to see Shelby deal with all she deals with without the use of the Dreaming. We never find out about whether or not the Dreaming is real, so I’m going to assume it’s her consciousness dealing with her issues in a way she can handle; it’s a way for Shelby to escape her current situation when she needs escape the most.
4. I started reading this book right after I was done with an American Literature course. So, of course, I immediately recognized all of the Native American legends!
It’s so cool how Lake blends Native American mythology with the actual world. The things that happen to Shelby (minus the Dreaming) could happen to anyone and it’s scary. But, throughout the book, Coyote is a huge character. If you don’t know, Coyote is a trickster in Native American mythology. He is a liar, but he never lies for sport. All of the mischief he causes ends up doing good. That may help you in whether or not you pick this up. It was really refreshing and different to see something blended so well like this story was.
OVERALL: 4 stars!!! I really, really liked this book. I warned you before – this review is short, only because there is a lot more I want to say, but I promised you no spoilers. So, you’ll have to get this to see for yourself. Shelby is a great main character, even if she irritated me some. The story was engrossing and really interesting, so I think you will enjoy this as much as I did. This book comes out on January 6, 2015 so click the link to pre-order!