**Warning: Spoilers May Abound**
The spine-tingling horror of Stephen King meets an eerie mystery worthy of Sara Shepard's Pretty Little Liars series in Kate Karyus Quinn's haunting debut.
On a cool autumn night, Annaliese Rose Gordon stumbled out of the woods and into a high school party. She was screaming. Drenched in blood. Then she vanished.
A year later, Annaliese is found wandering down a road hundreds of miles away. She doesn't know who she is. She doesn't know how she got there. She only knows one thing: She is not the real Annaliese Rose Gordon.
Now Annaliese is haunted by strange visions and broken memories. Memories of a reckless, desperate wish . . . a bloody razor . . . and the faces of other girls who disappeared. Piece by piece, Annaliese's fractured memories come together to reveal a violent, endless cycle that she will never escape—unless she can unlock the twisted secrets of her past. (source:goodreads)
Cover-I'm not going to lie, the cover threw me off. For some reason I expected this to be . . . well, not-paranormal.
From an artistic point of view, though, the cover is very pleasing to the eye. Not too much image, and not too much text; what's interesting is how they kept both separate. I love the large title; the font they use is really cool, too, and the red gradient makes it pop out.
Overall? Yes, very pretty.
Narrative-I kind of loved it. This book is told from first person POV, narrated by a person who, basically is "not-Annaliese." Eventually I came to know her as Anna. What's extremely striking is the way in which the little bits of her not being Analiese come out in the narrative, so it reflects what she believes about herself beyond just the storyline.
Example: she doesn't call them Mom and Dad. Instead, they are "the mom" and "the dad." For some reason I got a kick out of it.
What's also really cool is that every chapter starts with a poem that was written by Annaliese-the real one. This is how we get a lot of who Annaliese was, because so much of her life is tied into these poems that she left in weird, random places. So instead of getting the Annaliese that everybody else saw (as they try and get Anna to remember), we get Annaliese's life as she saw it, which I thought was pretty cool.
Flashbacks were also used, and artfully done, so definite kudos.
Plot-The plot really pulled out that part of me who loves gore and creepiness. The pitch compares it to Stephen King, and I think it's a bit accurate: it's chilling.
This book is a mystery. You know from the beginning that Anna is not Annaliese; the questions are: who is she, and where is the real Annaliese?
The pacing of this novel really pulled it off. As you read, you get mixes of Anna within Annaliese's life, suffering the consequences of her strange disappearance, and you also get flashbacks. But the flashbacks aren't to one life, they're from many, and you begin to piece together (haha, "piece") that Anna is not just one girl, but many. The contrasts between past and present were really well done and pushed the book along.
Then, oh my goodness, when you find out what really happened and how Anna become Annaliese? Dude. Chiller. I loved it.
I've explained in the past, however, that what throws me off is an incomplete plot. This book was fairly rounded, and all novels tend to leave questions unanswered, but either these questions were too big, or they were too many:
Who is the Physician, really? Why do they have to cut out each others hearts in order for the "transformation" to take place? Why cut open their arms?
Okay, so that's only three questions, and maybe it's just my insane desire to know every detail of weird things like this. There's a lot of mystery still shrouding this book by the time it comes to a close, which makes me question if the gore was really necessary (don't get me wrong, though, I love gore), and I'm still not sure whether that's a good thing or bad.
Characters-I'm going to do this part in list format just because . . . well, I can.
Anna: Our main character, whose many experiences drive the narrative. I actually really liked her; she's plagued by this terrible notion that she doesn't know who she is, but she knows she's done terrible things. Not only is she trying to decipher her own life, but the life of Annaliese, as well. It creates a certain type of fear and reluctance within her, which was a trait that was really appropriate and made her feel extremely real and well-rounded. It translated through her actions as well as through her voice. As a character, she's one of my all-time favorites.
Dex: Here's an interesting one. Dex is the next-door neighbor who's a recluse, and who also managed to film an important part of the original Annaliese's horrific disappearance. The world hates him, though, because they believe he leaked the video online, and now he's not only a recluse but a freak and a creep in the eyes of the local population. After Anna meets him, however, we see a more realistic side of him, where he's just a lonely boy with a secret that he's forced to live with, which drives him crazy at times. Overall he's a good guy; I really liked him as a character and as a love interest due to his willingness to help Anna without holding her back and also providing her with a kind of love that she'd been looking for.
Logan: I think Logan is the black spot of the characters. I understand he's basically broken by what he feels is his contribution to the disappearance of Annaliese. I understand that he feels guilty. What I don't understand is why that guilt comes with a pathetic desire to love the girl he believes to be Annaliese. My guess is that he's still under whatever spell he was put under a year prior, but it's never actually explained, so I felt like Logan was a one-sided guy, and that side was not something that I think was built upon very well.
Eric: I'm calling him Eric, but, like Anna, he's gone by many names. Eric is, well, a douche. But understandably so because he's essentially one of the "villains" of the novel. He's cruel and wicked, and above all he's willing to do whatever it takes to ensure his own survival. I love an antagonist who knows exactly what he wants and won't let himself get distracted by other things, and especially when they have a story behind why they do the things they do. So Eric was evil, yes, but he was supposed to be, and whenever he showed up I felt my skin crawl, which equates to another well-written character.
This book was, honestly, a little iffy for me. On the one hand I absolutely loved it; Quinn did an excellent job with the problem of memory and life and death. On the other, I feel like there were a few small things that were overdone or not stitched together quite right.
I also feel like the final answer is going to be a higher rating than I expected.
All in all, though, I'm not sorry I read this book. It was fantastic, and something that I would definitely recommend to others in the future.
Final Answer: 4.25 / 5