Author: Laurie Faria Stolarz
Genre: Paranormal Young Adult
Release Date: 12/23/08
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Some secrets shouldn't be kept...
Up until three months ago, everything in sixteen-year-old Camelia’s life had been fairly ordinary: decent grades; an okay relationship with her parents; and a pretty cool part-time job at the art studio downtown. But when Ben, the mysterious new guy, starts junior year at her high school, Camelia’s life becomes anything but ordinary.
Rumored to be somehow responsible for his ex-girlfriend’s accidental death, Ben is immediately ostracized by everyone on campus. Except for Camelia. She’s reluctant to believe the rumors, even when her friends try to convince her otherwise. She’s inexplicably drawn to Ben... and to his touch. But soon, Camelia is receiving eerie phone calls and strange packages with threatening notes. Ben insists she is in danger, and that he can help -- but can he be trusted? She knows he's hiding something... but he's not the only one with a secret.
Plot: 4 Stars
Although the majority of this novel feels contemporary, as compared to paranormal, the element of mystery kept me engrossed. The small touches of paranormal mixed into the story were very interesting and I hope they are expanded on in future novels. I liked the way the author alluded to the paranormal aspect a number of times before actually going into a detailed explanation. It allowed me enough time to try to figure it out on my own. The mystery aspect of this novel reminded me of The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting (which I also loved). The two stories had the same dark and twisted atmosphere. My favorite part of the novel was the chapters written by the bad guy as he watched Camelia from afar. It helped mold the book into something darker, and allowed for a nice glimpse into the bad guy's mind. Without these glimpses, the novel wouldn't have been nearly as effective.
Pace: 5 Stars
This novel flew by. I finished it in less than a day, which is an accomplishment for me. I think a big reason the pace worked so well for me was the chapter length. There were over fifty chapters and very few were over eight pages long. I do not understand why, but books tend to flow better when the chapters aren't fifteen or twenty pages long. But besides the chapter length, there were other aspects to the novel that made the pace really work. There was never a point in the novel where the pace slowed down. It didn't succumb to the dreaded "nothing is happening" that hits so many novels around two-thirds of the way through. There was also the who-dun-it factor. Throughout the novel, it was alluded to that a number of characters might be the bad guy. I became very engrossed as each of these characters did something that seemed slightly suspicious. In the end, even after suspecting these different characters, the identity of the bad guy was a complete surprise.
Characters: 4 Stars
Camelia was a strong and interesting main character to add to the Paranormal Young Adult genre. In regards to the mysterious phones calls and packages, the way she reacts feels very real. She was freaked out the right amount: she didn't shrug it off until the very end, but she also wasn't looking around every corner with a mirror. She tried to continue on with her life, while still trying to figure out what was happening. Ben was a very mysterious stranger, and I hope we get to learn more about him in future novels. The relationship between Camelia and Ben never feels rushed. I didn't think Camelia's interest in Ben was too clingy, too fast. My least favorite characters were Camelia's two best friends. Although the group seemed pretty tight in the beginning of the novel, Camelia not dismissing Ben as soon as the rumors broke seemed to pushed the friends apart a bit. They also annoyed me a bit when they told Camelia she was being self-centered, because I felt they were being just as self-centered. Hopefully, after the conclusion of the mysterious stalker, everything can go back to normal and the three will get along better in the next novel.
Cover: 4 Stars
This cover confused me a little. I like the cover. I picked up this novel based mostly on the cover. I had never heard of the series before, and the cover was interesting enough for me to grab off of the shelf and read the blurb on the back. But this cover doesn't really resonate with the story I enjoyed. It's not depicting a specific scene from the novel, and the dress the cover model is wearing does not say Camelia to me. There are a lot of elements I do enjoy about the cover, despite not matching up with the story. The intricate design around the title draws the eye to the middle of the cover and allows for the simple font of the title to stand out. The cover model's bare feet in the lush grass is a very eye catching contrast. And I always enjoy when a cover leaves the main character's identity for my imaginatino to shape.
Overall: 4 Stars
Disclosure: I bought this novel for my own reading pleasure.