Just to make it clear, I am completely against book violence. This novel however, tempted me to change my mind multiple times. Becky has reader’s angst!
I recently acquired the last book in the Hush Hush series Finale, only to realise I couldn’t remember any of the key plot details of the series. So hesitantly I decided to reread the first two books. Bearing in mind I remembered hating the first novel Hush Hush, I wasn’t too keen on the idea. Well, on a second reading it turns out I enjoyed it a little more, although I really wish I didn’t… This is one of those novels that has so many issues you wonder how it got past the publishers, and yet against all reason, I still kind of enjoyed it. (Bad brain, bad!)
For Nora Grey, romance was never part of the plan. Not until Patch came along. With his easy smile and eyes that seems to see inside her, Nora is drawn to him against her better judgment.
But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora isn’t sure she can trust him. Patch seems to be everywhere she is and to know more about her than her closest friends. And when she tries to seek answers, she discovers she is right in the middle of a centuries-old battle between the immortal and the fallen…and it’s time to take sides.
After a clunky and confusing prologue we meet Nora Grey, your average high school student intent on getting good grades. So when she is assigned a cocky, aggressive new biology partner named Patch who refuses to cooperate on their assignment, she can hardly contain her anger. He seems to know exactly how to make her uncomfortable and Nora finds his intense gaze and knowledge of her past unnerving. Not long after she meets him bizarre and terrifying events occur. A mysterious man in a ski mask attacks her, she often feels she is being watched and her best friend Vee ends up in the hospital. Nora is confused at every turn with no idea who to trust, yet she can’t deny her attraction to Patch who is menacing one minute and concerned for her the next. Finding out he is a renegade fallen angel only confuses her further. The question is, can she trust him or is he behind the attacks?
If bad writing irritates you do no touch this book with a barge pole, even if you are wearing a full bodied suit of armor or have borrowed Thor’s magic hammer. I cringed at least ten times at the lack of synonyms, the writing is clunky at multiple point and it felt like there were far too many convenient shortcuts – like Nora describing herself as being ‘a smoky-eyed brunette with volumes of curly hair’ and moments later ‘I’m all legs, like a bar stool’. First off, legs like a bar stool? WHAT KIND OF SIMILIE IS THAT? Secondly, who describes THEMSELVES as having smoky eyes?! These are apparent signs of either lazy storytelling or utter ignorance of basic writing rules. It kind of amazes me, I don’t always recognise these conventions as rules until I see them broken, I learn a lot from this reading and blogging malarkey!
That being said, there were also some real strengths to Fitzpatrick’s writing. Her ability to create a dark and threatening mood was impressive. When something wasn’t going quite right I felt a chill right along with Nora. Her choice of eerie settings like empty schools, dodgy pool clubs and creepy fairgrounds were great and gave the novel a real gritty edge which is often lacking from other books in this genre. I also felt she had a real talent for dialogue, Patch’s slicing and sarcastic comments often made me smirk. Nora’s reactions to them were believable and hilarious. The banter between the two during conversations was great and it is a shame this was overshadowed by the truly unsettling sickening way their relationship came about. Here-eth I direct you to one of the biggest issues in this novel.
Fitzpatrick does such a good job of making Patch’s actions towards Nora unsettling, disturbing and utterly wrong that when Nora begins to fall for him the only reason can be that she is completely INSANE. I got what the author was trying to achieve, the lure of the bad boy (Don’t we all know it?) along with the ‘oh-no-he’s-dangerous-we-can’t-be together-but-ohh-I-like-him-he-likes-me-blah-blah’ that has led to so many debates about misogyny and abusive relationships (which I won’t go into detail about here, there are others with far more knowledgeable on the subject, and it is a much wider issues than this book alone). Admit it, most of us YA fans like this kinds of setup despite our better judgment, but with Hush Hush Nora’s internal dialogue has inappropriate written all over it. One second she is terrified sure Patch is about to kill her, even seriously considering that he might attempt to rape her. Then in the next sentence she’ll be spouting some lusty comment and assuring herself Patch would never hurt her. THIS IS NOT OKAY. To show just how messed up it is and that I am not simply being overdramatic here is an example:
Nora goes to an amusement park to get Patch out of her head. When he mysteriously turns up she keeps talking about how terrified she is of him. Her friend JOKES about how he appears to be stalking her and Nora’s kind-of date threatens to go talk to him. Nora says she’ll deal with it and walks over telling Patch multiple times to go away and then gets all blushy when he suggests they are flirting. Patch asks Nora to meet him by a ride and she refuses once again insisting several times that he go away. When he finally does, she stands there for two seconds and then GOES AND MEETS HIM and as soon as she gets to the meeting point the first words out of her mouth are ‘Leave me alone’, and then again several lines later to ‘stay away from me’. Nora, YOU WENT TO HIM!!!!! Patch says some more creepy stuff and then suggests they ride a rollercoaster because otherwise she will never figure out the weird stuff going on. Nora agrees saying ‘In an absurd way, knowing I’d be with Patch made me feel safe.’
WHAT THE FREAKIN’ HELL?!?!?! All Nora had done in the book up to that point was to say how terrified she was of Patch (with good reason), and along with changing her mind at the drop of a hat she then thinks the idea of going on a rollercoaster with him makes her feel safe. SOMEONE SHAKE THIS WOMAN.
These kind of issues can be seen throughout the book, there are far too many convenient plot points that defy the laws of logic, yet Fitzpatrick puts them in there anyway and tries to defend them with a throw away comments. For example in another scene Nora and her friend want to read someone’s school file using the cover story that they need to talk to the nurse. The secretary them tells Nora the nurses office is through the third door on the left, across from student records, WHO SAYS THAT?! Private documents should not be in an area anywhere near where students can go. Not only that but when Nora reaches the room it just so happens to be unlocked and she casually remarks that it is lucky their school is so behind the times that they have files on paper rather than on the computer. (To be clear this was written late 2009.) Are you ripping out your hair in annoyance yet? I was, at which point I threw the book across the room. (Ok fine, slid it across the carpet, I can’t hurt a book, but the intention was there!)
Further plotting issues include the resemblances to Twilight. The lovers meet in science class, check. Patch has an intense gaze and mood swings, check. Peeping Tom, check. One semi present parent, check, check, check the list goes on. Further frustration stems from the annoyance that it takes the reader two thirds of the book to ‘discover’ Patch is an angel which is already blatantly obvious from the blurb, book cover and paranormal romance genre.
What’s most frustrating though, is that ignoring the first half of the book and all it’s issues the second half was excellent. The author builds the tension with precision, Patch and Nora’s interactions became more normal and cute (if you ignore the former issues) and the plot kept me hooked. Even though I had read this book before I couldn’t remember the ending and Fitzpatrick didn’t make it any easier for me the second time around! There are so many potential bad guys that she kept me guessing until the very end and I became desperate to know what was going on. The author is clearly skilled with suspense and it makes me wonder why her style fluctuates so much.
I can’t deny that I found Patch’s character alluring, he knew exactly how to get under someone’s skin, had a hilarious sense of humour and Fitzpatrick doesn’t make him sound too hard on the eyes either. 😉 Trying to work out the secrets he was keeping and his bizarre behavious was fun. I can see to an extent why Nora got sucked in and if the transition from fear, to curiosity, to love interest had been dealt with better the romance angle would have worked.
Nora acts as a teenage void that any reader can slip into, she is probably the epitome of a non person. Her only characteristics other than her desire for Patch is a want to do well academically. I found it ridiculous that when she discovered Patch was an angel she didn’t even ask if god existed, what heaven was like, if all the other gods people worshiped were real, you know, the NORMAL questions someone facing an angel would ask. Kudos to the author though for making her anemic, even though this was a minor point I always think it’s good to promote awareness.
Finally we have best friend Vee who’s character gets lost as a device for the catalyst to provide conflict. If she was my best friend I would send her to Timbuktu and good riddance. She comes out with a few well timed comments and was funny when hyped up on drugs in the hospital, but for the most part serves to be nothing but annoying.
Well, talk about a mash of emotions! To me it appears that the publishers/editors received the manuscript during the Twilight boom, when they read it they saw themselves laughing on top of a pile of money and in their attempt to cash in rushed through the publishing stage, missing or ignoring the countless faults and inconsistencies in the race to get it on the shelves in time. Hence we have a jumbled mess. I was tempted to up my original rating of Hush Hush to 3 stars because miraculously I did enjoy it as it went on, but thinking it through logically I can’t justify it, so it remains a grumpy 2 from me.
I would recommend this book to those who enjoy the paranormal romance genre that can overlook the bad writing and fishy relationship to enjoy the creepy vibe and the worthwhile explosive ending. Because of the questionable relationship between Patch and Nora I’m going to suggest females 16+ (I read this the first time when I was way younger though, so really it should be fine).
(Also apologies this is megga long, I went into rant mode!)
(To read my review of the next book in the Hush Hush series, Crescendo, click here.)
Writing Style: 2/5
Character Development: 2/5
Would I recommend this book? Depends on the person.
Book Cover: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6693473-hush-hush