If you haven't read Hush, Hush and intend to, or if you don't want me dissing the melodrama that is Patch and Nora, look away....NOW!
You already know I had issues with this book. I think a lot of people are going to take offense to the idea of Patch as the hero, as teen girls' fantasy, just as they did with Edward in Twilight. Patch goes beyond the simple term "bad boy" in that yes, he does actually mean Nora harm. Consistently.
I'm not going to go into that, because frankly, I don't care. He can be an anti-hero all he wants, whatever. If that's where the story's going, fine. Most of my issues -- but not all -- lie with Nora.
Here's the thing:
Nora is that girl you yell at in the horror movie, the idiot that goes up the stairs instead of out the door, or reaches to turn over the downed bad guy just to make sure. We all know that's frustrating, but we've come to expect it in movies, and that dumb big-breasted, scantily clad girl normally gets killed off.
Nora is so much more frustrating than that.
The many sides of Nora: She continually suspects Patch (and Elliot, and just about everyone else in this story) and with good reason. However, she then continually ignores her instincts and puts herself in danger. In fact, she can't seem to agree with herself. She will think to herself that Patch is stalking her and trying to kill her, and then within pages think 'Oh, but he could never hurt me.' This just cycles and cycles throughout the story.
Also throughout the story, Nora makes insane jumps in logic -- whether they turn out to be true or not, it's not believable when she immediately jumps to the most bizarre conclusions and then acts on them. At the same time, she will be directly confronted with some piece of real evidence, something that would make a normal, non-fictional person take notice and say something's not right here -- and she will completely ignore it. It's like she's being willfully obtuse.
- Early(ish) in the story, Nora hears a voice in her head and thinks Patch has "breached normal communication methods and could, at will, speak to me without ever opening his mouth." Naturally, she thinks she's delusional. Hearing your name and a few inane comments would make one think they are imagining things, and this I could buy. Even Nora not be exactly sure what happened and being creeped out I could buy. But she proceeds to ask Patch how he's able to speak directly to her mind, making her look like a loon. I wouldn't be even all that bothered by this, if it was consistent throughout the story; if Nora either consistently thought that she was going crazy because of all the implausible things that are happening, I could buy it; if she wanted to prove she wasn't crazy and kept confronting Patch and sleuthing, I could buy it. It would be 1 solid choice on Becca Fitzpatrick's part. She could be the ultra-paranoid girl who thinks she's going crazy and jumps to conclusions about everything. Annoying, but doable.
- Conversely, near the near the end of the story when the shit's really beginning to go down and nearly everyone has become a villain, Nora and Patch walk out of a movie theater to find that "...both the tires on the driver's side were flat. "I can't believe it!" I said. "I drove over two nails?"' She thinks she's being stalked, she thinks her best friend has been kidnapped by a teenaged murdered named Elliot, and by this point she thinks she's the target of not one but two angels, and yet she thinks she ran over two nails? Come on! If Nora will jump to conclusions on the barest of evidence, how in hell does she not comprehend the obvious?
- Throughout the story, Nora thinks everyone's out to get her (she's right, but I'll get to that), especially Patch. Patch is Ominous, capital 'O', and yet...And yet, no matter how much Nora thinks he's badbadbad, she trusts him. Why? Weirdest of all, when Nora confronts Patch about his intentions, he admits he wanted to kill her; her reaction? I know Patch could never hurt me -- and she trusts him implicitly from that point on. Really? The whole story you've suspected him and been insistent that you should stay away on the barest of evidence, but once he's confessed his (albeit previous) intentions of murder, you trust him. Really. Her sudden bizarre trust of Patch comes too late for any real belief in their romance.
Too many villains: Fitzpatrick makes the rookie mistake of lack of restraint. Nora suspects everyone, and everyone does in fact seem to be a villain. This makes the book seem unfocused and sort of cheesy. When everyone is under suspicion, and everyone seems to be a bad guy, it makes it seem like no one really is. It's like if you use a really great word once or twice it's going to stand out. But if every word you use is some great, unusual word, none are going to stand out. There's no negative space, no background to make the focal point pop. Everywhere Nora turns, someone's trying to kill her. It just gets silly after awhile. Also, it has the added negative effect of making it hard for Fitzpatrick to "top" as it were. Where does she go from here? If there are 4 different people trying to kill Nora in book 1, how many people will there be out for blood in book 2? She didn't leave any room to grow the suspense.
Another bad thing about the amount of villains and Nora's instant suspicion (and the overall over-the-top nature of the book) was that there was precious little suspense. By giving everything away rather freely, Fitzpatrick deprived the reader of the slow build-up and the privilege of the mystery; we never got to have any suspicions of our own, or choose sides. There was too much in the way of ominous overtones, and not enough restraint.
On a side note, not that I'm calling Vee a villain, but even she became a little weird as the story went on. It's one thing to be the wild and crazy girl in the best friends dynamic, but constantly trying to get your best friend alone with a guy who she says makes her uncomfortable, who she believes broke into her house and may be stalking her, and who she knows was a murder suspect is reckless beyond the pale, and shitty, shitty friendship.
The writing overall: I saw glimpses in Fitzpatrick's writing that demonstrated how this could have been a good book. She does sexual tension and confrontation scenes fairly well, and there is some good humor. Vee -- in the beginning, at least, before she becomes a really reckless, really bad friend -- was pretty amusing as the traditional sidekick. Patch had great one-liners, both funny and smoldering. But for all the occasional good, there was quite a bit in the way of bad. The dialogue was often stilted and weird. The analogies were completely out of left field. They were those turns of phrase that you can tell were used because they sounded cool, or because one was needed, but they don't mean anything, or they leave you thinking wtf? "His eyes looked like they didn't play by the rules." What does that even mean? What rules do eyes usually play by? This is a mild example, but I got sick of making note of them. I got this really hit-and-miss feel about the writing and the language in the book. Pieces of literary crap mixed in with the really good bits blended to form a "throw it all in and something's bound to work" style. A total lack of finesse made it hard to want to keep reading -- and made me feel like if I kept rolling my eyeballs, they were going to roll right out of my head.