Shattered Secrets (Book of Red #1)

Shattered Secrets (Book of Red #1) - Krystal Wade Thank you to Curious Quills Press for sending me a copy of the book, I’m grateful for the chance to read this book as it caught my attention and I’ve been looking forward to reading it for some time.

Ah, this book frustrated me to no end. I can’t even come up with an exact rating for the book, but I think 1.5 would suffice in this case. It’s one of the few rare books that I can’t say I enjoyed at any part of the reading, and I think I can break the problems down to a shortened, point-form list:

1) the relationship between Abigail and Derick was perhaps the most frustrating component of the entire thing
2) too many details were introduced during the entire story, so much that it wasn’t difficult to get lost and stay lost
3) the pacing off the book was off, by a lot

Insta-love is key in gluing this book together. Although the reader finds out later than Abby and Derick have known each other for a while and have only now decided to be honest about their feelings, it still feels like insta-love and a very forced, amateurish relationship that isn’t up-to-par with even the other bad cases of YA teen love. So much of the book both are prattling on and on about each other, how much they love and need each other. The biggest advantage of first-person narrative is that you get to hear the main character’s thoughts and know what they feel. Abby’s were limited to either a constant stream of worrying about everyone around her or being angry at someone, or she was thinking about Derick and going on about them being together and how she feels lost, confused, in love with him, or whatnot. It was a cringe-worthy case of teenage love syndrome, and it didn’t feel like a genuine sort of relationship anyway. Some of their reactions were off in the sense that they tended to have episodes of overreacting that contrasted greatly to the general bland state of their feelings. I get that this is a YA novel that’s targeted towards adults, especially since teenage girls really are suckers for romance – really, I get it. But this one needed work in that department, to soften up the outright display of lust, obsession, and whatnot.

If you were to attempt to draw a visual plot line of this book it would be a really messy squiggle. I don’t know how any of the previous readers could keep track of everything that was going on, much less draw the conclusion that the premise of the book was original or interesting. There’s layer upon layer upon layer of deception and lies that are piled upon both Abigail and the reader, and at some point it just becomes impossible to claw your way out. There are characters fighting, dying, arguing, attacking others but then apparently being the nice ones. There are terms being thrown around, like Kaloas or Favlosi, that you don’t understand until some point midway through the book where you kind of just have to go along with it and take it in whichever way you think the author wanted you to. The Safe Zone and Will and Megan’s initial reactions to meeting Derick and Abby took some time to understand and sink in. That’s another huge issue with this book – YA shouldn’t make you have to get a headache in trying to figure out what’s going on. It should be part suspense, yes, but there should also be certain lightness to the writing, characters, world, and various components of the story. That was missing in this case.

The originality also didn’t shine through. It felt...thrown together. There was the typical ‘complicated but occasionally lovey-dovey’ relationship between the main character and the boy, there was another – potential – love interest who had a dark side to him, and then there was the unknown, magical world and secret powers. All are lovely and typical in novels these days, but they don’t have to be bad, as long as they are played around with and moulded into something different or unexpected. I still don’t understand what the amazingness of these creatures and this world is. They feel incomplete and not thought through, or even if they were explained it was done in such a back-alley way that it didn’t stick in the memory.

The pacing is what encompasses all these things together and really shows just how strained the novel is, how fine a line the writing style is walking. Some previous reviewers stated that the pace is good in the beginning, slow and explaining in the middle, then really fast as it picks up near the end. I found it to be rushing through the entire length, maybe with the exception of the first two or three chapters. And this reflects back on the fast pace with which Abby and Derick’s relationship gets ‘serious’, how fast they leave Virginia, get to Florida, and have all their crazy adventures play out and witness people around them dying. The end though was a mushy catastrophe in that sense. I wish this was taken at a slower pace, the characters being given a chance to grow and develop a depth to them. I felt I didn’t know much about Abby beyond her crazy love for Derick and her confusion and anger towards the world. As a character she was, sadly, fairly easy to shut out and read about just from a surface point of view. There’s a lot of talking but very vague descriptions as well in this book, especially near the end when Abby goes to the temple/palace sort of building and it’s described, along with the people who are walking around in coloured robes. It was vague in a way that was disconnecting from the story, as if it were done just to fit the common YA novel ‘formula’ that seems to have self-developed.

For once the summary of the book accurately portrayed what would be in the actual story. Sadly this time it was the story itself that was a big letdown, along with its characters, plot, and, well, almost everything really. It left me with a very confused and sort of ‘why did this matter’ kind of feeling at the end, which shouldn’t be the case even with a book that was written for the purpose of entertaining or engaging the reader’s interest. The whole thing was shaking at the seams from the crazy jumble that was inside. It could have been much, much better than this disappointing and confusing result I couldn’t take much out of.