Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Book Review: Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus

Title: Shadow Hills
Author: Anastasia Hopcus
Publication Date: July 13, 2010
Source:  Fire and Ice's ARC tour
(Thank you, Heather!)
His love captivated her... his secrets might kill her.
Since her sister’s mysterious death, Persephone “Phe” Archer has been plagued by a series of disturbing dreams. Determined to find out what happened to her sister, Phe enrolls at Devenish Prep in Shadow Hills, Massachusetts—the subject of her sister’s final diary entry.

After stepping on campus, Phe immediately realizes that there’s something different about this place—an unexplained epidemic that decimated the town in the 1700s, an ancient and creepy cemetery, and gorgeous boy Zach—and somehow she’s connected to it all.

But the more questions she asks and the deeper she digs, the more entangled Phe becomes in the haunting past of Shadow Hills. Finding what links her to this town…might cost her her life.

Overall rating: 7/10 flowers
Pre-order this book:  IndieBound | The Book Depository Powell's | Amazon
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Anastasia Hopcus's debut novel, Shadow Hills, follows Phe as she enrolls in a prestigious Massachusetts prep school in an attempt to unravel the haunting dreams she has been having since her sister's mysterious death.  As she settles into school and begins to learn more about the local residents, she discovers that the townspeople have been hiding some very big secrets.  But how was her sister connected to Shadow Hills?  The more Phe discovers, the more danger she finds herself in and the more determined she becomes to uncover all of the secrets buried in Shadow Hills.

What I Liked:
-     I liked the concept behind the townspeople's extraordinary abilities.  The science-fiction element of the mystery surrounding the residents of Shadow Hills help this book stand out from others within its genre and give the story a bit of a superhero/X-Files edge.
-     I enjoyed the assortment of students Phe encounters at Devenish Prep. They are not cookie-cutter rich kids, but distinct individuals.  I hope to see more of all of her new friends in the next Shadow Hills book. I liked Graham for his open friendliness and sense of humor, Toy for her geeky charm, Adriana because she is lovable and bold (in addition to being entertainingly spoiled), and Brody because he has dealt with some rough circumstances and is more complicated than his reputation first indicates.  Even the antagonistic characters, like Corinne and Trent, are more than just flat villainous individuals and I look forward to learning more about them also.
-     Brody's living arrangements and his relationships with Mr. and Mrs. Carr allow us to glimpse another side of his personality that I enjoyed seeing.
-     The story progresses with consistent pacing and there is always a mystery pulling the plot forward, making Shadow Hills a quick read.
-     Many of the mysteries that are left unresolved at the end of Shadow Hills are very intriguing.  I particularly look forward to learning more about Athena and about the banished individuals like Damon Gates.  I feel like Shadow Hills barely scratched the surface of many of the mysteries Phe uncovered, and there are many more mysteries left to explore in the world Anastasia Hopcus has created.

What I Wished:
-     I wanted to feel more chemistry between Phe and Zach.  Their relationship seemed rushed and way too generic to me.  I expected to feel a compelling chemistry between them, but I actually found almost all of Phe's other relationships more interesting than her attraction to Zach.  I enjoyed her platonic camaraderie with Graham and her growing friendship with Adriana more, and I thought that those relationships better illustrated the aspects of Phe's personality that set her apart from other YA heroines.
-     In the beginning of their acquaintance, I felt that Phe should have been more alarmed by Zach's unique abilities.  And the way in which Zach's special abilities were revealed occasionally led me to feel that he gained a new power whenever it was convenient to the plot.
-     While the underlying mysteries surrounding Phe and the residents of Shadow Hills are fascinating and create a lot of potential for a fun and suspenseful series, I thought the primary villain in this particular book was a little too predictable.

I look forward to reading the next book in this series and hope to see more of Phe's new friends.  There are lots of mysteries left to explore.  Fans of paranormal thrillers like Kelley Armstrong's Darkest Powers series and Kimberly Derting's The Body Finder should check out Shadow Hills.  To learn more about Shadow Hills, you can visit Anastasia Hopcus's website, blog, twitter, or facebook.

You can read the first chapter of Shadow Hills here


Candace said...

oh I can't wait to get this one! Great review!

Adeeva Afsheen said...

Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. No matter ga life, not a problem not learn, so enjoy it :)

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