Thursday, August 18, 2011

Review: All Unquiet Things by Anna Jarzab

Title: All Unquiet Things
Author: Anna Jarzab
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Pages: 337
Release date: January 12th 2010
Genre: Contemporary YA; mystery
Source: Bought
Find out more: Amazon ; Goodreads

Goodreads description:
Carly: She was sweet. Smart. Self-destructive. She knew the secrets of Brighton Day School’s most privileged students. Secrets that got her killed.
Neily: Dumped by Carly for a notorious bad boy, Neily didn’t answer the phone call she made before she died. If he had, maybe he could have helped her. Now he can’t get the image of her lifeless body out of his mind.
Audrey: She’s the reason Carly got tangled up with Brighton’s fast crowd in the first place, and now she regrets it—especially since she’s convinced the police have put the wrong person in jail. Audrey thinks the murderer is someone at Brighton, and she wants Neily to help her find out who it is.
As reluctant allies Neily and Audrey dig into their shared past with Carly, her involvement with Brighton’s dark goings-on comes to light. But figuring out how Carly and her killer fit into the twisted drama will force Audrey and Neily to face hard truths about themselves and the girl they couldn’t save.

 First sentence:
It was the end of summer, when the hills were bone dry and brown; the sun beating down and shimmering up off the pavement was enought to give you a heartstroke.

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I have no idea why I don't usually read mysteries. I never really look for them, but when I do read one, I almost always enjoy it - I love the suspense and trying to figure out who did it and all of that. And that was my favorite part of All Unquiet Things, too. The mystery aspect is developed really well - it had me guessing the entire time, but I never even considered who actually turned out to be the murderer.

I absolutely loved the writing. It's beautiful, and I love how the author managed to balance focussing on what's important for the mystery while also giving lush descriptions and giving details about the characters.

I loved the two main characters, Audrey and Neily, too. I felt for Neily, who had lost the girl he loved, and for Audrey, who had lost her cousin and best friend, and whose father was charged with her murder. Both are well-developed characters and have destinct voices. I especially loved the relationship between Audrey and Neily. It's so raw and honest, but their relationship is still fun to read about because of Neily's sarcasm. I appreciated that the author didn't use the easy and clichéd idea of having these two fall in love (which I think would have ruined the book), but instead just portrayed their friendship.

I did have some problems with All Unquiet Things, though, and my main problem is Carly's character - I just didn't get her. I think it's because there's too much telling and not enough showing - the reader is told how much Carly changed after being friends with the popular crowd, but we never really see any of that transformation. First she's the quiet girl reading a book alone during lunch, and then she's doing drugs and with the most popular guy in school. Some things about her seemed contradictory - for example, in the beginning, Neily talks about how orderly Carly's room always is, and then later, when they're clearing out Carly's closet, he says that of course her stuff is all over the place because that's Carly. This is just a small example, but there are more important ones that I just can't think of right now. I never felt like I really knew Carly, and that made it hard for me to get into the story.

I'm not sure what to say about the format. All Unquiet Things is written from both Neily's and Carly's point of view, but not in regular alternating chapters. We first get 100-something pages from Neily's perspective, then 100-something pages from Audreay's point of view, and so on. In my opinion, that's too long - I really got into one character, but then the point of view changed, and "I" wasn't Neily anymore but Audrey, or the other way around. That confused me a little, and I think I would have preferred normal alternating chapters.

Another thing I didn't get is the title. What unquiet things? What is that supposed to mean?

I know I said quite a few negative things about All Unquiet Things, but I really did enjoy this novel. 3 stars sounds so negative, but it actually means I liked it, it's just not my favorite book. The mystery, the writing, and Neily and Audrey's characters are great, and this is a great way of connecting mystery with emotion and grief. I didn't get Carly's character, and that made it hard for me to enjoy some aspects of the novel, but maybe you will connect with her, so I do recommend All Unquiet Things, if you're looking for a good mystery or something dealing with grief.


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