It was a toss up between 3.5 or 4, but then I figured I should stop being so half-assed with ratings and choose whole numbers. So I decided to give it a 4.
Thirty-four kids are missing, vanished without a trace. Meanwhile, Genie Magee, 15, is imprisoned behind bars at home by her mother, who claims her soul is possessed by the Devil and is encouraged by the sinister Reverend Schneider. When Genie’s boyfriend Rian sets her free, they end up at a remote farmhouse downriver, where all may not be as it seems. Then Genie meets Denis who has been missing two years now, but hasn’t grown an inch; while Rian is haunted by Renée, who insists she’s not actually dead. Soon they discover the terrible truth about Reverend Schneider—and worse, Genie is next.
The premise sounded interesting though I admit I was a little put off by the blurb on the back that said:
All Genie’s hopes, all her life and her soul, are pinned on beautiful Rian. Rian loves her. He’ll rescue her from this madness.
Another one those? I thought. I think one of the reasons I stopped reading young adult novels in the first place was because I’d been over-saturated with love triangles and mushy romantic fluff that made me feel sick (probably also because I had a non-existent love life myself and became a bitter woman). But I was pleasantly surprised. The relationship between Genie and Rian is one of the greatest things about this story. There’s no Other Guy she’s torn over — it’s just her and Rian. It is simple, organic young love that isn’t in your face but rather quite heart-warming. It isn’t one-sided and you don’t have to read through pages of angst.
Genie is a likable protagonist. I appreciated that despite how harshly she was treated by her mother, she never strayed far from the person she was. Throughout the whole novel, she remains kind, empathetic, selfless, but never a pushover. She is strong in her own way and can get herself out of tricky situations with determination and intelligence. It was great to see her really come into her own by the end of the novel.
Speaking of her mother, my main disappointment with novel the is how the “bad guys” are portrayed. When I finished the book and thought about it I realised how one-dimensional they felt. Sure, I definitely felt a strong sense of hatred towards their actions, but every time I pictured them in my head, they were people with glowing red eyes and horns sticking out of their heads. I’m hoping that in the next book, they become more fleshed out than that image.
Other points to mention:
- I loved the little twists in the book that made me question everything.
- Wasn’t a big fan of the long chunks of dialogue at first but I got used to it by the end of the book.
- The writing style, in general, isn’t something I’m used to. The flow of the sentences were sometimes jarring and I felt like some of the paragraphs could’ve been broken up for smoother reading.
- A few moments in the beginning of the novel felt too convenient.
- Loved reading the science behind teleportation.
- Fantasy element (Genie’s gift) wasn’t really explored.
Overall, I enjoyed this novel. It kind of bogged down a little in the middle but picked up the pace soon after. The end was particularly exciting which is why I’ll be raiding my local library for it’s sequel, The Hunting.