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Not in Any Way Whatsoever
on November 28, 2009
If I hadn't received this via Amazon Vine, and therefore obligated in return to review it (as opposed to purchasing), I probably would let it pass into my reading life's obscurity. We all know the basics of the book by now: hot, yet jerky mysterious guy meets lovely, yet clueless girl who must be with jerky guy and solve the Mystery of Him.
Hush, Hush left me with a rather annoying cross between disbelief, disgust and at times pure apathy. One thing in the book's favor: despite a completely unbelievable romance and sequence of events to reach said romance, it is an utterly readable book. Very easy to slip into and get lost in. I admit the only reason I kept going was in vain hope it would all pan out into something good through a cool plot twist or stellar character growth.
The romance, this is where my sense of disbelief and disgust comes in, and being that the blurb bills this immediately as a romance, I'm also bewildered. Patch is the typical "twilight era" young adult hero, or so it seems. He's smart-mouthed, mysterious, and dangerous, and despite his rather blatantly lacking qualities, he attracts the heroine like a bear to stinking trash. Yep, Nora just has to wade through all his crap, because something is telling her that beneath all of Patch's jerk wad facade, there's a heart of romantic gold. How else to explain why she pursues him?
Patch is one of those types that immediately rubs the heroine - and this reader - raw. He's constantly insulting Nora, and uncooperative in their typical science lab partnership. He leads her on the craziest dance I've ever seen, meanwhile Nora following behind, picking up his crumb trail of crazy as if it was honey. I say honey because even though she is highly suspicious of him, as well as wary and guarded against him, she does eventually go on to love him. How? WHY? Never once do these two have a scene worthy of igniting a romance. They only trade insults, argue and mistrust and frankly, Patch is one creepy mofo.
And with good reason. His motives are not in any way pure, not even romantically. His actions are confusing, highly suspect and then at times downright see-through. Nora fears he means to do her harm, and despite this being about the only smart thing to come out of all her musings on him, she still goes on to put herself in one dangerous scenario after another.
Nora has this best friend...the kind of friend that makes backstabbing enemies look inviting (because, you know, the enemy would be much more straight-forward). Vee was the kind of friend who is with you because she wants to catch as much of her cooler, prettier and all-around "better" friend's glow. On the surface, the friendship appears solid and born of years of fast and true experiences that make their relationship stronger. Beneath this, though, I got a sense of jealousy from Vee, who is the "curvier" one we all know to be the slightly less perfect one who worries too much about her weight and other similar insecurity issues. Vee didn't come off as a true friend to Nora to me. She constantly says things that are embarrassing to Nora not to mention she does things that get Nora in trouble. Vee engages in several actions that make no sense. If this book in any way made sense, Vee would have hit the best friend door, gone.
There are also two boys of the same age as the rest of our main troupe of characters, Jules and Elliot, who go to a private school several miles away. One never says a word hardly - Jules - and goes about the book almost entirely till the end seeming as bored as I was getting with the whole affair. Elliot seems to have a strong romantic interest in Nora, but changes tune drastically and suddenly at one point, revealing his intentions in an entirely different light. I think these two characters were meant to me more subtle, but due to a prologue that takes place in Loire Valley, France, 1565, it doesn't take rocket science to figure out who and what all these people are and what in the heck is going on.
The bottom line is, Hush, Hush exemplifies yet another young adult romance with no romance in sight. I cannot give on this one: if the heroine is afraid of the hero for most of the book, and the hero even WANTS to hurt the heroine for most of said book, romance isn't the word that comes to mind. Psycho works better.
While I felt the writing itself was competent, too many things jump the gun or feel clumsily written in. The clues are blatantly tossed out, from the cover for one thing (yes, it's beautiful, but it pretty much gives it all away), to a carnival ride that Nora almost dies on called the Archangel. **SPOILER ALERT** Yes, Patch almost kills her on it. **END SPOILER** She knows this, is confused by it, but she continually ignores her instincts, choosing instead to "investigate" Patch. To instead fall in love despite him never giving one un-creepy vibe or romantic gesture.
How is someone that WANTS to harm the heroine time and again a hero? How is one that stalks her, threatens her, is downright nasty to her...a hero? Why is this billed as a romance for young adults, or young girls, I should say. It takes the theme of forbidden romance a step too far, twisting the idea that true and exciting love must be dangerous and also demeaning to the heroine.
I'm all for the air of forbidden desire and the excitement it can bring to a growing romantic relationship, but this wasn't romance. A hero does not prey on the heroine's fears, enjoying it all the while and then suddenly the two are "in love". Sometimes the ends justify the means in these kinds of situations, but after all of this book's particular means, I do not feel anything was justified. Had Patch stopped being such a jerk, and Nora such an addlepated twit, perhaps a more believable romance could've risen from the ashes.
This is the kind of book that beats home such a wrong air the entire way through that by the end I am rather apathetic towards it all. Numb to the idea that Nora and Patch could have any kind of romance, even a future in which to continue fostering a romance. The horse was beaten to the point that who really gives a crap if these two love one another or not. It's not a healthy love and it is disturbing to say the least.