Some Quiet Place
Pub Date Jul 8 2013
This story had a lot of potential but overall I found it an unsatisfying read due to lack of conceptual clarity, a disjointed plot in the first half of the book and scenes that were longer than they needed to be.
The idea of personifying emotions is an interesting one, but it does require a certain amount of world-building as regards their purpose and their nature, something that isn’t done sufficiently in this book. The questions raised about this vision of the world are many and few of them are answered, so the world really didn’t hang together for me. The opportunity to make a useful statement about dealing with emotions is also missed so the personification is nothing more than a way to create an interesting character with supernatural abilities. I was quite happy to accept this, but the book had other problems as well.
Elizabeth is supposed to not feel emotions, but clearly she does care, which is lucky because without it she would have been an unlikeable character. Elizabeth does what people expect her to do, but if she really felt nothing, she wouldn’t even bother to do that, other people notice that, but she denies it, which strengthens further the block we learn has been placed on her emotions.
Elizabeth doesn’t know why she is the way she is, but her father beats her and her mother hates her, which certainly doesn’t help. She discovers that she was involved in an accident when she was four years old and she changed after that. She also has a strange reoccurring dream about a girl and a boy, but she doesn’t know who they are. These factors set the scene for a mystery, but it’s one of those frustrating kinds where people appear and say cryptic things that say so little that you wonder why they bothered. It’s the mystery that keeps you reading, but at 50 % of the way through, it’s a bit thin, and things are happening in what appears to be a haphazard fashion. A friend dies of cancer, a girl is injured at a party, and a bully girl keeps harping that she’s a freak and not normal. On top of this is the mystery girl who leads her into the forest to tell her pretty much nothing. I really didn’t quite know where it was going. I almost stopped reading.
What kept me going was the character of Fear. He really was an endearing character, whereas the rest of the characters were pretty ordinary, even Elizabeth, who was more normal than she and everyone else seemed to think, and Rebecca was just plain irritating with her critic contributions. At 70% of the way through the big bad guy finally appeared and the plot started to come together but I had no idea what Nightmare wanted, and with so much else unexplained, I needed to. I still didn’t really know what was going on.
The answers come in the last quarter of the book, but for me they showed up the problems with the world building even more. How can an element called father a child with a human when most humans can’t see these personifications? Why does Fear have to leave when he can duplicate himself to go to a summons? Do the emotions come when you raise them, or do they come and rouse the emotions in you? What makes then go away and what makes them stay? Who has control in this vision, the emotion or the person? Etc etc.
We do finally find out what Nightmare wants, but not why he wants to kill her, or why he killed her brother, and the scene where he tortures Elizabeth is not only far too long and repetitive for what is required to get the message across, (pages and pages of brutality when one of two would have been quite sufficient) but it is also inappropriate for the YA audience. I found myself skimming a lot of it, wanting the story to move on.
For these reasons I gave it 2 stars.
On a positive note, the author writes good active prose and has a lot of potential. It is a shame that she didn’t have a structural editor who took more notice of the deficiencies in the world building and brought the main thread into the story earlier to help tie it together better in the first half of the book.
The cover is great but it has virtually nothing to do with the book.