Author: Denise Grover Swank
Pages: Paperback; 350
Release Date: November 11, 2011
Source: The Teen Book Scene
Intended Reading Group: Young Adult
Content Screening: Mild Violence
HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart
Recommended to: Readers who are looking for an interesting mix of mystery, science fiction, and romance.
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Sixteen year old Julia Phillips buries herself in guilt after killing her best friend Monica in a car accident. Julia awoke in the hospital with a broken leg, a new talent for drawing and false memories of the accident, in which she dies and Monica lives. The doctors attribute this to her head injury, but no one can explain how a bracelet engraved with her name ended up at the scene of the accident. A bracelet no one has ever seen before.
Classmate Evan Whittaker paid Julia no attention before the accident, let alone after. Now suddenly he’s volunteering to tutor her and offering to drive her home. She can't ignore that his new obsession started after his two-day disappearance last week and that he wears a pendant she’s been drawing for months. When the police show up one night looking for Evan, he begs Julia to run with him, convincing her that Monica is still alive. Julia agrees to go, never guessing where he’s really from.
My thoughts upon finishing Here are really a jumbled mess. My apologies in advance to you, dear readers. Denise Grover Swank has written something completely different than what I've seen before. Here is a crazy mix of paranormal abilities, with some romance, a dash of contemporary and then science fiction that flies in right out of left field. It even has a little bit of a dystopian feel at times. Point being? This wasn't what I expected at all.
I was so drawn in at the beginning, and I genuinely enjoyed the first half of the book. Julia's story is intriguing. We have a girl who wakes up after an accident, with no recollection of what happened, and feels the full brunt of her friend's death. After that she just tries to blend into her surroundings so that she doesn't have to keep reliving those feelings. Safe in her own isolation. This I liked. I liked the original Julia who had to be coaxed out of her shell by her parents, friends and teachers. Her story had more of a contemporary vibe and I was feeling it.
Then Evan started noticing Julia and things went a bit haywire. Now I was just hanging on for dear life, mostly reading to find out what on earth was going on. I started to put the pieces together as Evan dropped hints. Swank does her best to put in tidbits of information here and there to help ease the transition into the second half of the story. Still, when the transition finally did come it was very jarring for me. It threw me for a loop and made the rest of the read odd.
My other problem was just that Julia changes so drastically as a character from one half of the story to the next. In the second portion she jumps around in her emotions so often that it was emotionally draining for me as a reader. I felt bad for Evan. There are moments where she was just downright mean. If someone is saving your life, you really shouldn't snap at them. I understand the whole stress aspect, but really? It also blew my mind how easily Julia's feelings for both boys in the story flip flopped. It made me dislike her a bit, I'll admit.
Anyhow, to wrap things up, Here was a book that I was torn over after finishing it. I loved portions, and then was lost at others. I adored Julia, and then wanted to shake her. There was so much in this story that had potential that I feel got lost in the modge podge that this book becomes. This is the first in a series, and I'll likely give the second one a shot to see if I am back on board. The ending is really cute, and a cliff hanger. Final verdict? Give Here a shot. It's an interesting read, and you might find yourself connecting with it where I didn't.
FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.