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Monday, July 19, 2010

Review: Shadow Hills

Title: Shadow Hills
Author: Anastasia Hopcus
Page Count: 400 pages
Publisher: Egmont
Genre: young adult, sci-fi/fantasy/romance
Copy for review provided by Around the World Tours in anticipation of an honest review

50 words or less: Persephone Archer enrolls at Devenish Prep to come to grips with her sister's death and her own creepy dreams. She meets a hottie, uncovers a mystery, risks death and destruction, and finds some answers, although not the ones she'd thought she'd find.

The buzz surrounding Shadow Hills is excellent, and upon finishing the book, I can say that I understand why people are raving. The story is unique, and while the standard elements of YA mystery and romance are all here in force, they serve as the backdrop for a puzzle that's engaging, a romance that's sweet, and the first strains of a series that will be a lot of fun to follow.

The students who live and study at Devenish Prep can best be described through the following audio visual aid:
Yep, the kids at Devenish Prep are well off, well clothed, well traveled, and thoroughly bored with everything. There are a lot, and I mean a lot, of conversations and descriptions about what people are wearing, what other people might think of the things they're wearing or doing, and fretting over grades, boys, dances, mean girls, and so on. It added a layer of authenticity and established the credibility of Phe and her friends as more or less typical high schoolers but thankfully did not detract from the pace or plot of the story overall, which I always appreciate. Maybe it's a peril of reviewing YA books as an adult, or maybe it's because I was never really into that stuff as a high schooler myself, but oftentimes I find endless descriptions of clothes and makeup and shoes and purses and whatnot to slow the pace of the story down tremendously; I'm happy to report that for the most part that didn't happen here.

Phe immediately meets Zach, a resident of the town of Shadow Hills and a student at the school and the attraction between them is intense, although they both do their best to deny or avoid it. Phe's feelings on the subject can pretty much be summed up as follows:
Deciphering Zach's feelings for her is definitely top priority on Phe's mind and remains there for the book. It's a sweet love story with plenty of obstacles to overcome but still fun.

What took center stage for me, though, was the side plot regarding the epidemic, the mysterious powers manifesting themselves among the residents of the town, the murder mystery, the mysterious powers that Phe herself seems to be developing, the need for secrecy at all times, and so many other details it's impossible to note them all here. The ending leaves many questions unanswered, but at least Phe and Zach's relationship status is certain:

The door is wide open for a sequel and hopefully more time will be spent on the open issues at the end of this book. It's a good summer book and I highly recommend it to while away those hours on the beach, in the car, or stuck inside on a rainy day.

Overall Grade: B+


Natalie (Mindful Musings) said...

Glad you (mostly) enjoyed this one. You're right: it seems like a lot of people are raving about Shadow Hills. I can't wait to get the chance to read it for myself. Thanks for the review! :)

My 5 Monkeys(Julie) said...

great review and I still need to read it

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