Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Review - The Hollow

The Hollow (The Hollow #1)
by Jessica Verday
Date: 2009
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Reading level: YA
Book type: prose novel
Pages: 513
Format: hardcover
Source: Indigo

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.

Plot: 1/5
Characters: 2/5
Pace: 0/5
Writing: 2/5
Originality: 3/5

Overall: 1.6 out of 5


  1. Hmm, disappointing. And I did not realize it was 500+ pages.
    I keep coming across books like this (too long, overwritten, bad tension, etc), and think, where were their editors? Why are people letting this slide?

  2. Wow. I've been looking forward to reading this one. I'm really glad to read your review though, I appreciate hearing what people really think. I do tend to avoid buying hardcovers anyway, but I won't rush in to this one.

  3. Yikes! I'll definitely stay away from this one. Anything with a "hollow" plot definitely doesn't work for me!

    I love the honesty of your review and the fact that you were able to give concrete examples of what you disliked -- about the prose and the plot. Though every reader is different, we all benefited from your candor! Thanks!

  4. I'm one who is daunted by the length...and I am sorry to hear you thought there was a lot of filler. I bought it, so I guess I should probably take your advice and wait to read it until all three books are out.

    Incidently, I just finished reading BEFORE I FALL by Lauren Oliver which comes out next March. It is 470 pages, but I wouldn't take out a single word. AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Oh boy, I started reading it like 3 weeks ago and I stopped at like 160 lol...I keep putting it down and getting another book to read but I'm trying to finish it! What the heck, are me & you missing something, so many people really enjoyed this book? Eh, I'll continue, hopefully I'll finish it this month ;] Great honest review!

  6. And I've been ogling this book - it's had such good reviews. Will put it back on the mayhbe list for now. Thanks.

  7. This is one of the best Hollow reviews I've seen. I had to start skimming it eventually because the writing was so darn long winded. Yeah and wtf was the shiny thing by the river about? Ugh what an annoying book!

    I second what Lenore said about Before I Fall. It is a pretty long book, but it is an amazing story. One of the best books I've read in a while even.

  8. Thanks for the honest review! I too get very crabby when I buy a HARDCOVER book and then the story stinks! A heads up is greatly appriciated!

    BTW love your blog. Ladybugs rock. I have a tattoo of 3 of them.

  9. Oh wow that sucks. I was curious about this one. If anything I'll just check it out of the library.