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Friday, August 1, 2014

Review of Hush (Lakeview Novel #1) by Stacey R. Campbell *SOME SPOILERS*

1/5 Stars
Details of the Book
ebook, 252 pages
Published by Green Darner Press
Published on: November 15, 2012

Synopsis: For small-town girl Blakely Henry, any hope of finding her biological parents died when she stopped believing in fairy tales and Disney princesses. That is, until she spots her boarding school’s new British exchange student, Max Ryder, staring at her. Why would a boy who looks like he stepped out of the pages of a magazine be looking at her? Because Max knows something Blakely doesn’t. 
Following the tragic demise of one of Europe’s most beloved royal families, Max has stumbled upon information he thinks may lead to a lost royal heir, and now he is on a quest halfway around the world to see if he’s right. 

Sworn to secrecy by his university professor and the headmaster of Lakeview Academy, Max is admitted into an exchange program with the sole purpose of finding out the truth. But will his personal feelings for Blakely get in the way? 

When a stolen email surfaces, Blakely and her friends’ lives are threatened, and Max starts to question what he is really after.

From the exclusive rolling lawns of Canada’s most prestigious boarding school to the University of Saint Andrews’ hallowed grounds, Blakely’s quiet, unassuming life is turned upside down. Is she really who she thinks she is? Can she survive long enough to help Max unearth the truth?

Thank you Netgalley and Green Darner Press for my Ebook copy of this book.

I always feel bad when writing negative reviews. Some people say they are the easiest to write, and even though I have plenty to say I feel bad writing them. Even with books I highly dislike, I try my best to find some qualities that I like so it's not so harsh, but unfortunately I have nothing pleasant to say about this book. I hate the idea of hurting a fellow author, but sugar-coating the truth is not going to help them either. 

Overall, in my opinion, this book is one big cop-out. If any of you have seen the movie The Princess Diaries, you have the general plot of this book. A princess falls in love with her chauffeur, they have a child, and her family makes her hide the pregnancy and puts the baby up for adoption in order to preserve the family's reputation.  Many years later, the royal family has a tragic accident and die, which leads a young journalist looking into the lost heir. It's difficult to come up with a unique plot these days but at the same time this particular one is so cliche that it was difficult to take it seriously. 

My second biggest problem with this book is that it does a lot of telling instead of showing. The reader is given all the information about each character as if they were reading a bio instead of learning about them through their thoughts, dialogue, and moments with the other characters. Our leading male falls in love with our heroine before he ever meets or speaks to her. I don't mean puppy-love or a just a huge crush, he full on loves her. Their relationship happens fast that the reader doesn't get to watch it develop, we're just told that Max loves her, she likes him, and that's it. It's the same with all of the relationships in this book. The characters meet, suddenly they have a relationship, and we are supposed to care. The problem is that we are given no reason to. It's like we're given a bunch of facts instead of a story. Sure it's easier to write this way, especially when there are a bunch of different characters, but in no way does it make us invested in any of them. 

I've written in other reviews before that I hate it when a book has so many characters. There are few authors who can really pull-off so many characters well-balanced between rounded and flat characters. Hush has so many characters that they all appear to be flat characters. This is because the writer has told us facts about all of them instead of focusing on developing them as the book goes on. One of the most baffling issues with this are random details thrown into a plot. (Spoiler Alert): For example, our heroine Blakely and her roommate Tyson are hit by a car, because a couple of assassins are attempting to kill Blakely and make it look like accident. This is fine, weird and random but fine. Later in the book, there is another attack and right before it Tyson says to Blakely, "You know how sometimes I get those really weird feelings?" The Blakely tells the reader in her thoughts, "Blakey did not want to hear any of Tyson's weird predictions. She had them all the time it was kind of creepy." This obviously alludes to the fact that Tyson has some psyche powers, but where were these psyche powers when they were hit by a car?

The author evades writing detailed description of people and places. Instead of telling us the color, texture, or any type of descriptive language to portray what people or places look like, Campbell tells us that they look similar to other fictional structures or real life actors. In writing what Lakeview Academy looks like, the author writes: 

"For grade nine English they had written a comparative essay comparing Lakeview Academy to Hogwarts. The similarities still made her laugh.They lived in the same house, or dorm, for all five years at Lakeview. So did Hermione, Harry, and Ron while at Hogwarts. 

They competed against the other houses and ate all their meals under their flags, just like they would if they had been living in Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, or Slytherin. Rugby was Lakeview's Qudditch and the whole school went out to celebrate the games dressed in their school or house colos, depending on who was playing." 

First of all, their are many private/prep/boarding schools that have separate houses, house teams, and live with the same people for years. Therefore there was no need to use Hogwarts as an example. For me this is borderline plagiarism. Instead of creating her own school, she used Harry Potter fans memory of Hogwarts. 

Another (but smaller) example of this is on our description of Max, our main male character. We're told that he looks like like the actor Alex Pettyfer.   

Maybe some of you have already been able to tell, a lot of the characters have gender-neutral names. With 10+ flat characters, and all their names not giving us any indication if we're talking about a boy or a girl it makes it all confusing. For example, the three main girls to pay attention to are Blakely (our main girl), Tyson (her roommate) and her best friend Riley. If there were less characters and more focus on the small group of important ones, the names wouldn't be an issue.

Finally, just like the all of the relationships, the end of this book is wrapped up too quickly and evilly. Two professional assassins were taken down by three teenage boys in a quick fight, where at one point one boy was able to hold both of the assassins hands behind their backs. The big evil guy, is a powerful lord and without an investigation, trial, he's arrested quickly and easily without any problems. He hired trained killers, had high connections in the government, but was taken in by the police based on a quick phone call from a professor without looking into the evidence themselves.

That's all the main points I have to say about the book, the rest of it are just little tiny things that don't matter in comparison to what I have already mentioned. I hope all of you guys found this review enjoyable and make sure you check out my new meme Forgotten Fridays. 

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