Monday, May 6, 2013

[Review: Thorn Abbey by Nancy Ohlin]

"Thorn Abbey"
Author: Nancy Ohlin
Pages: 304
Genre: YA Paranormal, Retellings
Date Published: May 7th, 2013
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Format Read: eARC provided by the publisher (via Edelweiss) for honest review


Nothing is as it seems in this darkly romantic tale of infatuation and possession, inspired by Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca.

Becca was the perfect girlfriend: smart, gorgeous, and loved by everyone at New England’s premier boarding school, Thorn Abbey. But Becca’s dead. And her boyfriend, Max, can’t get over his loss.

Then Tess transfers to Thorn Abbey. She’s shy, insecure, and ordinary—everything that Becca wasn’t. And despite her roommate’s warnings, she falls for brooding Max.

Now Max finally has a reason to move on. Except it won’t be easy. Because Becca may be gone, but she’s not quite ready to let him go…

My Thoughts:

This book started out "meh" and quickly turned into a whole lot of "no way".  It wasn't that the writing was bad, it wasn't.  This book actually seemed to fail in the details and the characters, more than the actual flow of the book.  I actually liked the flow.  Right in the beginning I could have pegged this book as one that I was going to love.  It had all the potential with a slightly creepy atmosphere and a prologue that excited me.  But when you get down to brass tacks, a good prologue with whatever that ending was, is not a good mixture.  Just like chicken broth and whip cream in a blender wouldn't work.

"Thorn Abbey" is a retelling of Daphne du Maurier's classic novel "Rebecca".  And while the I haven't read the original I will admit that "Thorn Abbey" made me want to read it.  And since it's sitting on my book shelf, hopefully I'll get to it soon.  In that sense "Thorn Abbey" did what it set out to do.  But as a standalone novel, it just didn't cut it.

The characters started out decent enough and I actually liked the first couple of chapters, but it was when our leading lady Tess falls for the silent and broody Max that things got weird.  Tess was inconsistent to say the least and crazier than a cat lady at Christmas.  She was the girl from the wrong side of the tracks who was thrust into a world of privileged rich kids.  But get this, she didn't even know what the BK Lounge was and someone had to tell her it meant Burger King.  Your telling me that a fairly poor kid doesn't know what Burger King is?  I don't believe you for one second.  And she calls a curling iron a "long, hot metal thing."  That doesn't make me think of a curling iron (just saying) and it certainly doesn't make me believe that she's the smartest girl in school or life.  

And Tess and Max.  Things get so weird there.  In a stalker, creepy, "I'm going to watch you while you sleep, but from across the lawn with a pair a binoculars, from a ladder" sort of way.  She literally meets the man and starts crying and wondering what she doing wrong all the time.  This girl has 0 self confidence and the rich girls in the school use that to their advantage.  Taking the time to tell her that she's too fat, too weird and too ugly and that she needs to stay away from Max, but she doesn't.  

There isn't actually much to be said for Max, even though his dead ex, Becca has a fairly large role to play in the plot.  Oh and the insta-love.  He's a big part of the epic romance that we don't even understand.  How did he and Tess just randomly start dating again?  Or did they?  I mean it was never a full bloom relationship if you ask me and most of the time it left me scratching my head saying "Huh?  Why are they together again?"  
The standout characters had to be Devon and Franklin.  They were both spot on in what they needed to be.  Devon was Tess's roommate and the ex roomie of Becca.  She had these extremely strange and unsettling tendencies as well as the ability to go from sweet to sour in an instant.  And Franklin was awesome!  Out of all the guys in the book he's actually honest and awesome as well as extremely conflicted.  I dug him!

But that ending and the big plot reveal didn't do it for me at all.  It seemed too thrown together and like it didn't get enough time to breath or settle in.  All the sudden it was just there, staring you in the face and I didn't know what to do with it.  It was predictable in some ways and left me speechless in others.  And not the good kind.  

It literally pains me to say that I didn't like this book.  I wanted to like it so badly.  It had so much promise and was written in a way that was easy to read.  It had great ideas behind it, but in the end, I think that the inconsistent characters and the direction the book took for the last half didn't help it out.  It was just one of those misses for me.            

 2 Unicorns = Something just didn't work for me!


Christina / Book Addict said...

I was really looking forward to this book, but I've heard some mixed feedback. Tess and Max's relationship does sound creepy. I don't think it would work for me either. Thank you for the honest review!

Tammy Sparks said...

Oh poo! I have this on my list to read for review this month, and yours isn't the first 2 or 3 star review I've seen. Oh well, perhaps I'll enjoy it more than you did.

GillyB said...

CRAZIER THAN A CAT LADY AT CHRISTMAS. That just made me snort coffee up my nose, because it is SO TRUE.

I also totally agree that Devon and Franklin were the only redeeming characters with any personality. I mean, Devon was a loon, but in just the right way. Tess was just UNBALANCED. And ugh. Max. UGH UGH UGH to the both of them.

LOVE the review! :) At least YOU understand what I suffered through, reading this book. I so wanted it to be amazing. Obviously, it was not.

Giselle said...

Ewww chicken broth and whipped cream? Bahaha. I wasn't really interested in this one anyways because I'm rarely a fan of historical stories like this, but I'm glad you took one for the team and let me know I wasn't missing much >.<

Also, the romance sounds boodebmpy--and not in a good way. Barf!!

Hopefully your next read will be better ;)

Giselle said...

Omg wtf is boodebmpy?? I mean Goosebumpy. That is the typo of the year right there!

Shane Morgan said...

Oh gosh. Now i'm scared to read this one. Thanks for the honest review though.

Nicole said...

I am so bummed that you didn't like this! I had high hopes for it. I feel like I will have a problem with the characters too, enough to impact my overall enjoyment. I probably won't be reading this one. Thanks for your honest review!!

Nicole @ The Quiet Concert

Little Miss Becky said...

Oh, that's a bummer that you were so disappointed in this one. I was looking forward to it---but I have to admit, I haven't had much luck with any retellings of Rebecca in the past. Ah, well.