by Jessica Verday
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Reading level: YA
Book type: prose novel
A love like no other...
When Abbey's best friend, Kristen, vanishes at the bridge near Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, everyone else is all too quick to accept that Kristen is dead...and rumors fly that her death was no accident. Abbey goes through the motions of mourning her best friend, but privately, she refuses to believe that Kristen is really gone. Then she meets Caspian, the gorgeous and mysterious boy who shows up out of nowhere at Kristen's funeral and keeps reappearing in Abbey's life. Caspian clearly has secrets of his own, but he's the only person who makes Abbey feel normal again...but also special.
Just when Abbey starts to feel that she might survive all this, she learns a secret that makes her question everything she thought she knew about her best friend. How could Kristen have kept silent about so much? And could this secret have led to her death? As Abbey struggles to understand Kristen's betrayal, she uncovers a frightening truth that nearly unravels her - one that will challenge her emerging love for Caspian, as well as her own sanity.
(synopsis from Goodreads)
I'm disappointed. Very, very disappointed.
I wanted to like this book. I really did. I'd read (mostly) good reviews, so I thought this would be a good book to spend my money on. In all honesty, though, I feel cheated. Cheated out of my time, and cheated out of my money. That'll teach me to buy hardcovers when I'm only getting a 10% discount.
The title turned out to be appropriate. For me, the book was hollow. There just wasn't much in it. When I read the first few pages, I breathed a sigh of relief. The prose was grammatically correct, and the writing style was nice. So I settled into reading what I thought would be an intriguing story...
I understand (now) that this book is the first of a trilogy. Unfortunately, that's not made clear on the cover. A big "Book One of the Hollow Trilogy" on the front would have been nice. Because, as it is, The Hollow can not stand on its own. At all. In fact, this is one of the first books I've read where the first book in a trilogy or series is nothing but a placeholder. Usually, that doesn't happen until the second book.
By the time I'd gotten about a third of the way through the book and nothing of significance had happened, I was almost ready to give up. But I kept going, hoping for a payoff of some sort. I'd heard there was a twist or revelation, so I wanted to find out what that was. Unfortunately, that meant slogging through more than 400 pages of long-winded prose that was desperately in need of an editor. Take, for example, this little nugget from page 366 (I remembered it because of its ridiculousness):
I put my hands to the ground and pushed myself up to my feet.
Aside from giving me the mental image of a toddler trying to stand and take her first steps, the author took fourteen words to say what could easily have been said in three:
I stood up.
Now imagine 513 pages of that kind of writing...
I was pretty annoyed by the time I finished the book. Characters and storylines were introduced but never followed up on. We never got any resolution to Kristen and the mysterious "D.", and Ben and the whole science fair storyline just seemed like filler. The rude guy in the ice cream store... well, I thought he was significant, but he wasn't mentioned again. And what about the shiny thing in the river? Either the author has never heard of Chekhov's gun, or she's planning on resolving these elements in future books. The problem is that there's not enough story here for a trilogy. There was barely enough story for this first book; 400 pages could have been cut, and you still would have gotten the gist.
As for the big twist, I'd guessed that pretty early on, and ended up reading the rest of the book with that idea in my head. So when the big revelation came, it wasn't a shock. In fact, my reaction was more along the lines of disbelief. That was the big twist? That was what all of this was leading up to? I had to read over 450 pages to get to that?
The story didn't really start to pick up until page 460, and then too much was thrown in at once, which made the book seem rather ending-heavy. I blew through the last 50 or so pages, because stuff was actually happening. But then, just as things were getting going, the book ended.
After reading 513 pages, I want to come away feeling like I've read a good story or spent time with some interesting characters. In this case, however, I thought the story wasn't meaty enough and the characters were weak. Ultimately, the payoff was too little. I have no desire to read the next book, even if we do get some answers.
But if the second book in this trilogy is anything like the first, we'll have to sit through another massive tome before finding anything out... because I suspect that we're not going to get our answers until the very end of the third book.
Overall: 1.6 out of 5