Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Mystery, Horror
Publication Date: September 1st 2012
2 OUT OF 5 STARS
“I had just come to accept that my life would be ordinary when extraordinary things began to happen.”
Sometimes life is split into before and after. Jacob’s before is life as a rich kid, working part time and expecting to inherit part of his uncle’s business. When his grandfather dies everything becomes after. After losing his paranoid grandfather, after seeing that thing in the woods, after going crazy. In an attempt to find some realistic explanation behind his grandfather’s last words he goes to the island from his grandfather’s childhood. It’s not long before Jacob finds out that his grandfather’s stories might not have been so fanciful after all and everyone is in very real danger.
The concept for this novel is absolutely brilliant. The photos inside are quirky, mysterious and just a little bit spooky. Unfortunately the story that they’ve been woven into feels less like a horror and more like an adventure novel. With such a wealth of old vintage photographs this book could have woven a great scary story but the monsters are very so-so and the tension comes from worrying for the characters not actual fear. It feels like some massive opportunity to make a story about spooky children was missed in favour of another story of special children along the veins of Percy Jackson and Maximum Ride.
The story that is told in the novel feels half-baked. The author glosses over establishing an incredibly complex and fascinating world. There are so many things left unexplained, but instead of leaving me wanting more it left me slightly annoyed. Statements like “only birds can manipulate time” are given and then never elaborated on. Things are given extra layers of complexity without the author ever delving into the topic. Why write a seven layer dip if you’re going to let your readers skin the top and then toss the rest out. It leaves a lot of the story feeling convenient because there’s no real logic as to why anything in this story happens or exists.
The romance was perhaps the final straw. Despite being completely unnecessary and wasting pages that could be spent on developing the world, it was weird. The book briefly examines how weird dating a grandfather’s girlfriend would be but then decides to go ahead with it anyway. It’s uncomfortable, awkward and not to mentioned poorly developed.
The book was not objectively bad, but I did go into it with higher hopes than I should of. This series has built up a level of hype that it could never live up to. Despite the brilliance of the vintage photography within, the story is absolutely average.