Monday, January 09, 2012

Review: Here by Denise Grover Swank

Title: Here (On the Otherside #1)
Atuhor: Denise Grover Swank
Publisher: N/A
Pages: 350
Release date: November 7th 2011
Genre: YA; paranormal; dystopia
Source: Thank you to the author and The Teen Book Scene for providing a review copy in exchange for an honest review

Goodreads description:
Sixteen year old Julia Phillips buries herself in guilt after killing her best friend Monica in a car accident. Julia awoke in the hospital with a broken leg, a new talent for drawing and false memories of the accident, in which she dies and Monica lives. The doctors attribute this to her head injury, but no one can explain how a bracelet engraved with her name ended up at the scene of the accident. A bracelet no one has ever seen before.
Classmate Evan Whittaker paid Julia no attention before the accident, let alone after. Now suddenly he’s volunteering to tutor her and offering to drive her home. She can't ignore that his new obsession started after his two-day disappearance last week and that he wears a pendant she’s been drawing for months. When the police show up one night looking for Evan, he begs Julia to run with him, convincing her that Monica is still alive. Julia agrees to go, never guessing where he’s really from.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

When I got the e-mail about this blog tour, I just read the description for Here quickly and though this was contemporary YA, so I signed up for the tour. Looking back, I have no idea how I could have not seen that Here is... well, I'm not even sure what it is; it's somewhere between paranormal and science fiction. Since I'd said take part in the tour and had received a review copy, I started reading it anyways, without expecting much. However, I ended up liking this a lot more than I thought I would!

As someone who reads contemporary YA almost exclusively, it feels wrong to judge anything about Here. Since the only paranormal YA I can think of that I've read is the Twilight series, I don't have much to compare Here to. But I do know that I enjoyed reading it.

The world-building, as far as I can tell, is really well done. One of the things I disliked about Twilight (I know, the comparison to Twilight is very far-fetched, but like I said, I have nothing else to compare this one to) is how the paranormal aspect is completely obvious to every reader, but the main character just doesn't get it. That's not the case at all in Here - I didn't figure it out up until the moment Julia does. You can't know for sure what's going on - is Evan from the past or the future, is he a ghost, and so on. I really enjoyed making up different theories about what was going on, and the mystery aspect is really well-done. I would have liked some more information on how the whole paranormal thing works, though.

The characters are pretty good. In the beginning, Julia is easy to relate to, and I understood her grief and her problems with her family. Later, when the story crosses over into the paranormal realm, I found it a little harder to relate to her - the strong feelings she develops for Evan and Reece so quickly seemed a little unrealistic to me. I don't want to say too much in order not to give anything away, but I liked the secondary characters, too, and enjoyed reading about their different sides.

I was a little disappointed by the ending. Yes, this is the first book in a series, so of course there needs to be some suspense left, but the ending is a little too open, in my opinion - some kind of conclusion would have been nice.

This was a surprisingly enjoyable read for me. I had a few complaints, but all in all, Here is well-done. Like I said, I haven't read enough books in this genre to know whether this is an average book or outstanding, so I'm not sure whether to recommend it or not, but I can say it was fun to read and a nice change of pace from the contemporaries I normally read.


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