Saturday, October 13, 2012

Book Review: The Shattering

It's probably a good thing that the two books I had to read right after Death Watch (or get more library fines) were two that I had been interested in for a while and this one was the one I was more interested in. I've read Karen Healey's other work, Guardian of the Dead, and absolutely adored it since it's a modern day urban/low fantasy that completely understands how important setting is to a story and I've really wanted to read her next work and just didn't have a chance until now. It's also set in New Zealand (although instead of being centered around a college in a big city it's in a small town) and I have no idea if the two stories are connected or not but I wouldn't be surprised either way.

The Shattering by Karen Healey

Summary: When Keri's brother suddenly and mysteriously commits suicide she's naturally shaken and suspicious about everything and her suspiciousness leads her to fellow classmate Janna and out of towner Sione who both also had older brother's die under mysterious circumstances. Armed with nothing more than hunches and records of the town they begin to realize that there is something truly sinister going on in their west coast town. 

The Good: I really like the plot here, a "main character(s) against a greater power" conflict is fairly common in fantasy (and this is urban fantasy/magical realism) but the greater power is slightly different than usual and I thought it an interesting and quite sinister take. Just as great are the characters, Keri, Janna, and Sione are all viewpoint characters and they're all honest enough that it wasn't jarring to see one scene from one characters point of view and then see it again from another's (and thanks to the fact that Keri was first person and the other two were third person it was easy enough to tell them all apart). There was romance which, even though it ended up being crucial in the end, there were plenty of other relationships as well and in addition, they characters had other problems completely unrelated to the main plot! They cussed, people never let their teenaged characters cuss!* I really loved this whole book and while I don't think we'll have another book related to it, it wrapped up quite well, I wouldn't be unhappy to see some short stories of the characters or see them show up in other stories.   

The Bad: Of the three leads I found Sione the least relatable since a lot of his internal problems had to do with self-esteem (which I never sympathize with as much), and considering relatively small reason is why I didn't sympathize with him as much I think that says how realistic I found Keri and Janna. It was a bit convenient with how easy it was to work magic in this book, would have been nice to have known a little bit more about how it worked, but it never turned into a deus ex machina and it was understandable why the characters didn't know any more. 

In short, I was completely satisfied with this book and plan on buying my own copy (along with a copy of GotD, I have a lot of buy these days it seems) sometime. I'm also sure that if I had read it back in 2011 it would have gone on my favorite books of the year list and would have no trouble recommending it to fans of YA fantasy or even realistic fiction.    

*which, let me tell you publishers, you might not like the idea but teenagers cuss, a lot, having recently been one I can attest to this. And I am noting this specifically since I've seen several authors, I think including this one, say they have to fight to keep it in so let me say, Yay I'm happy it was in since yes, it helped flesh out the characters. 

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