Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Review - Glimpse / Stacey Wallace Benefiel

Zellie Wells has a devastating crush on Avery Adams, the son of her mom’s high school sweetheart. At her sixteenth birthday party, held in the basement of her dad’s church, she finally finds the courage to talk to him. Turns out, the devastating crush is mutual.

As Avery takes her hand and leads her out onto the makeshift dance floor, Zellie is overwhelmed by her first vision of his death; shocking because not only are they both covered in his blood, but they’re old, like 35, and she is pregnant.

Afraid to tell anyone about the vision, (she’d just be labeled a freaky black magic witch, right?) Zellie keeps the knowledge of Avery’s future to herself and tries to act like any other teenager in love. When they get caught on their way to a secret rendezvous by her mom and his dad, they are forbidden to see each other.

Convinced that their parents are freaking out unnecessarily, Avery and Zellie vow to be together no matter what. They continue their relationship in secret until Zellie learns that their parents are just trying to prevent her and Avery from suffering like they did. The visions are hereditary, they’re dangerous, and if they stay together the visions will come true.

Now Zellie must choose between severing all ties with Avery, like her mom did to prevent his father’s death, and finding a way to change Avery’s future.

Review - Everything that I liked about this book disappeared around page one hundred and sixty-six. I can remember the page number because there was one line that made me groan out loud and I knew it was the beginning of the end.

Despite a protagonist introduction that felt a little overdone, I was pleasantly surprised by the set up of Zellie Wells and her tale. She's a small town gal, daughter of the local pastor and irrevocably in love with classmate, Avery. Zellie's a good girl, somewhat ordinary in everyday life with the exception to her ability to guess if someone is seriously ill or moderately ill. What was fantastic about the notion of this girl was that despite her religious background, it didn't play a major role in terms of issues. Her party is in the church's basement, her family doesn't have a lot of money but they are happy. Zellie (up unto a point) is a well sketched Christian girl completely lacking the caricatural edge that we typically see in a pastor's daughter.

Told mostly in Zellie's perspective, we are also partial to Avery's perspective at times. Here's where the trouble begins. Zellie's perspective is presented in first person and her boyfriend's is told in second. To be completely honest, Avery's isn't needed and is used as a narrative crutch. At times information is repeated through so many channels that I wonder if the editor of this novel was asleep. There is a great heart to this story had the mythology been all stripped away, the convoluted interconnected family love machinations, the dead returned and paper thin characters been fleshed out. If the story had been about Zellie, a normal spunky girl struggling with liking a boy in a town where she's the pastor's daughter, I would be writing a different review. If it were a story where she has a gift for "knowing", where she struggles with her love and lust for a boy that her parents don't approve of then I would be a happy girl. Benefiel's strength was in the simple storytelling, I just don't think she realises it.

When parental affairs, secret magical societies, abrupt character changes and choppy dialogue started to show their head I was bitterly disappointed. I blame the grandma. Seriously, everything was great before she came along. Actually I blame Zellie's extra powers. Why couldn't a dash of precognition been enough? Instead the author took a simple story that worked really well on a emotional level and sucked it all out to make a paranormal mishmash reminiscent of other books with matriarchal line abilities. The introduction of a wholly unnecessary boy near the end sealed the deal for me.

So much promise but ultimately disappointing.

Published: May 9, 2010
Format: Paperback, 262 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace
Source: publisher
Origin: USA


rhubarbruby said...

Interesting review. I see it's a self-pubbed book. I guess this highlights where an agent and / or editor could've helped a rough diamond turn into a sparkly shiny one. They'd have (hopefully) taken out the repetition, fluctuating narratives, extra powers, new random boy and the grandma of course ;-)

Of course, there are some books that are traditionally published that still suck. And Glimpse may never have seen the light of day if the author hadn't tried self-publishing but still, I think this is an example of why self-publishing isn't always the answer. I just really hope the author at least tried the traditional route first cos the premise sounds good and looks like the writing's fine, just needed a little help along the way...

Melange said...

I really enjoyed your honest review! I'm glad I read it beyond the blurb of the book though, because it does sound good. But you're review does show that what can sound good, can turn out bad. :(

I'm Sharyla from A Bookish Wonderland by the way. I love your blog and hope to read more soon. Feel free to come by and check me out too.
Have a lovely day.