Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Hush, Hush, by Becca Fitzpatrick

Hush, Hush, by Becca Fitzpatrick.  Simon and Schuster, 2009.  400 pp.  978-1416989417.

... in which we have Twilight, but with angels instead of vampires.

The story in Hush, Hush revolves around Nora, a high school sophomore.  One day in biology, the seating arrangement gets changed and Nora ends up with a new biology partner.  The partner, a mysterious bad-boy named Patch, seems to know exactly how to get under Nora's skin and drive her crazy.  He also knows way too many details about her life.  After meeting Patch for the first time, Nora begins to run into him all over town, suggesting that he may be following her.  She also survives several near-death experiences, and begins to suspect that someone is trying to kill her.  When she does a little research into Patch and some of the other unusual people she's met since meeting him, she finds out that Patch is a fallen angel... an angel who fell to earth and lost their wings.  Despite all of the evidence suggesting that Patch is dangerous, Nora finds herself inexplicably attracted to him.  Nora ends up in a conflict between fallen angels and the Nephilim (offspring of humans and fallen angels), which could have life-threatening consequences for her.

I picked this book up for $4.99 in the bargain book section at Borders.  I'd heard of it before.  I knew that it was a New York Times bestseller, and that it was considered one of the best young adult urban fantasies.  Based on this information, I went in with pretty high expectations in terms of quality of plot and originality of ideas.  I was sorely disappointed on all counts.

Let's start with one of the most important features in a novel (for me): characterization.  As far as I can tell, Nora is a stereotypical good girl with not much else to distinguish her.  Patch is basically Edward Cullen from Twilight, except he is far, far creepier than Edward ever is (and I think that's really saying a lot).  Also, he's an angel instead of a vampire.  Nora's best friend Vee basically seems to exist to annoy the reader and to get Nora into a lot of trouble.  Since the book lacks any characters that draw the reader in, the book really needs to have a good storyline to hold it together.

Unfortunately, the story is, at its best, derivative.  At its worse, it's muddled and incoherent.  The timeline of events is almost identical to the events in Twilight.  Girl meets mysterious boy.  Girl is drawn to mysterious boy.  Girl has life threatened.  Girl digs for answers.  Girl faces death in climactic conclusion.  Unfortunately for this book, the events don't even seem to be ordered in a logical fashion.  Twilight was at least decently written, with a believable timeline and a semi-logical series of events.  In this case, despite the fact that she knows that Patch is spying on her and is deliberately being a creep, Nora still decides to go meet him in sketchy, isolated places.  Despite having several near-death experiences over the course of a few days, Nora still decides to sleep alone at her house in the middle of nowhere.  Basically, there seems to be no link between events... it's just a bunch of ridiculous threatening instances strung together.  Also, the romantic attraction between Patch and Nora makes no sense.  We are given no reason for Patch's love for Nora, and as far as I could tell, Patch did nothing but give Nora the creeps, so I have no idea why she would love him back.  Had I been in her shoes, I would have run screaming in the opposite direction and taken out a restraining order.  The mythology of the story also wasn't explained well... basically we get the background history on angels in about two pages, and that's more or less all of the explanation we're given.

Apart from the illogical sequence of events, there are numerous other instances that venture out of the realm of believability.  As a fantasy novel, it's expected that Hush, Hush would have a lot of unbelievable events.  However, the worst examples of this are events that have no bearing on the fantasy aspect of the book.  For example, Nora's family home is in the middle of nowhere, in a secluded patch of forest.  Nora's widowed mother works a job that routinely takes her away from home for days at a time, so Nora spends a great deal of time alone overnight.  I can't think of many mothers who would let their child live like this.  There's also a scene in the biology class, where the teacher is discussing human reproduction.  For some reason, he thinks that he should have each student list, in front of the class, the features that they look for in a potential mate.  The scene ends up being totally humiliating for Nora, and the way the teacher presents the exercise makes it come across like sexual harassment, almost.

My final complaint is that there was no reason whatsoever for this book to have the title Hush, Hush.  At no point in the story is the word "hush" significant, so I'm forced to conclude that the author just randomly opened the dictionary and picked the word.

Recommended for no one.  Don't bother.

1/5 stars.

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