Friday, July 17, 2015

Falls the Shadow | Stefanie Gaither

When Cate Benson was a kid, her sister, Violet, died. Two hours after the funeral, Cate’s family picked up Violet’s replacement. Like nothing had happened. Because Cate’s parents are among those who decided to give their children a sort of immortality—by cloning them at birth—which means this new Violet has the same smile. The same perfect face. Thanks to advancements in mind-uploading technology, she even has all of the same memories as the girl she replaced.

She also might have murdered the most popular girl in school.

At least, that’s what the paparazzi and the anti-cloning protestors want everyone to think: that clones are violent, unpredictable monsters. Cate is used to hearing all that. She’s used to defending her sister, too. But Violet has vanished, and when Cate sets out to find her, she ends up in the line of fire instead. Because Cate is getting dangerously close to secrets that will rock the foundation of everything she thought was true.

In a thrilling debut, Stefanie Gaither takes readers on a nail-biting ride through a future that looks frighteningly similar to our own time and asks: how far are you willing to go to keep your family together?

I had received this book as a Christmas gift after my friend was enticed by the summary. Excited, I picked it up and brought it one of my fencing meets. My friend and I, both without headphones, decided to read the book out loud which may have been either the worst decision of the best decision we've made.

It took us little over a month to finish the book, and by the end we both agreed that we kind of really hated it. I don't know how much of it had to do with the fact that we were reading it out loud, highlighting the flaws, but there were several aspects of this book that irritated us endlessly. 

1. Characters 
These characters were boring and dull. This may seem a bit harsh but my friend and I had to give the characters different accents in order to prevent them from becoming completely two-dimensional. Jaxon magically became an immigrant from India looking for marriage while Cate took up an Australian accent. But not only were the characters dull, but they were also fairly stupid. They could have easily gotten out of the mess they were in, but continued to dive into a dangerous situation without any thought. On top of that, every interaction between the characters seemed unnecessary. Two characters would have a conversation for pages and pages that would essentially result to nothing. It was very very obvious what role each character played in the plot. For example, Seth was meant for comic relief, while Jaxon presented the "complicated" romance. 

There was even a point in the novel when the author simply forgot about certain characters. In one particular scene the authors forgets the presence of a small, yet dangerous side character and then proceeds to write several pages of pointless conversation between two completely different characters.

2. Plot
The plot had an interesting concept, but a poor execution. As a stand alone book I don't think it did a good job of introducing and resolving the issues it brings up. I'm not saying I want a sequel, but I just don't think the plot was resolved at all. 

3. Writing
There were simple grammatical mistakes in the book. I'm not a grammar Nazi or anything, and I've made several grammatical errors. But in something as revised and edited as a book, there definitely shouldn't be any. The manuscript has passed through the eyes of editors, authors, publishers, and not one of them was able to catch a simple grammar mistake. There is nothing that bothers me more than a hardcover published book having grammar mistakes and typos. There was more than one occasion where Gaither used "Violet and me" instead of "Violet and I", which is mildly ridiculous. There's something wrong if after several rounds of editing nobody notices this mistake. 

Another thing was that the writing was overly dramatized. To the point where it didn't follow simple laws of physics. Not like magic where people fly through the air because of superhuman powers, but people would "fly across the room" after being hit by a small teenage girl. I'm not saying she was weak, but unless this is some paranormal book she's definitely not hulk. 

All in all, I really didn't like this book. There seemed to be little action and way too much soliloquy from Cate. I may have liked it more if I had read it in my head, but reading it out loud highlighted the glaring problems and gaps in this book. Though I really enjoyed the experience of reading out loud, I did not enjoy the actual book. While it seems I'm being a bit harsh, this was my honest opinion of the book. My expectations were set too high by the synopsis, and the actual book fell very low below the bar. I don't want to discourage anyone from reading this book, but I do recommend taking the synopsis with a grain of salt.