Release Date: December 8, 2011
Read it in: 2 days
Warning: If you don't like reading rants about books, especially for ones that you liked or think you're going to like, then you aren't going to like this review. If you do like reading rants about books, well then, this should probably be pretty darned entertaining...
*****OK, so let me start off by just saying, I really tried to like this book, honestly I did.
I tried up until the very last page to have hope that something was going to happen that would redeem the entire thing for me.
But it just.
[Insert sad face here.]
Maybe I should blame my OCD tendency to finish a book no matter what. Because even when I absolutely can't stand a book, I have to finish it. I'm not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing. I really did consider DNF-ing this book about halfway through because I just could not take much more of Lenzi's weak character-- she was literally making me sad and angry at the same time-- but then, I thought well, maaayyybeeee she'll get better, maybe she'll have some kind of major revelation and turn into this super awesome character, transforming into a strong, confident, kick-butt kinda gal who can stand on her own two feet without a man to validate her entire existence.
But alas! It was not to be.
And the farther I got to the end, the more annoyed and disappointed I became.
Lenzi's dad has recently died-- committed suicide-- because he couldn't get rid of the voices in his head. Now 16, Lenzi is starting to not only hear voices, but see things too. Her musician boyfriend Zac can't help her. Alden, the strange guy she meets in a graveyard one night, tells Lenzi that she is a Speaker-- she can speak to lost souls and help them to find rest in death by freeing them from the problems that keep them bound to Earth. Alden is her Protector-- he protects her from Malevolents, violent spirits who don't want to be helped, but who could potentially possess Lenzi's body, using it to take out their rage or revenge. But Lenzi has no recollection about her past lives as a Speaker, and now there is a really dangerous Malevolent who wants revenge on her for something Lenzi can't even remember...
So the number one reason why I could not stand this book was because I could NOT stand Lenzi. The girl absolutely annoyed the living crap out of me, and it was downright painful having to read from her whiny, immature point of view. Yes, I can understand her frustration and fear after finding out that she's supposed to talk to the dead and help them out of Earthly purgatory, but really? If I had just found out that I could talk to dead people AND it was up to me to save them from eternal damnation, I'm pretty darned sure my number one concern wouldn't be which boy I'm currently dating. For real.
Now, this seriously drove me crazy, because all Lenzi ever did was: A.) Drool over how gorgeous and beautiful Zak and Alden were, or B.) whine and complain about how sucky her life was.
That's it, the girl had no other thoughts.
Oh, but she can fold origami-- lots of origameeee!
(Because, you know, the main character has to have a "hobby" to make her seem "smart" and "interesting.")
Meanwhile, the immaturity levels reached astronomical proportions-- I'm talking whining and complaining galore. And when she does finally try to be the mature adult? She gets about as far as donning a pair of "tan slacks and cream-colored turtleneck"-- yes, that is an actual description of what she wears, I'm not making this up-- because clearly you have to dress like a flipping geriatric to appear "grown up." Slap on a pair of Velcro Easy Strides and Lenzi is good to go. Terrific!
OK, so on a more serious note, my main beef is that I thought the message Lenzi sends out to readers was absolutely horrible-- I found nothing about this character that was respectable, admirable or worth emulating: she was lazy, whiny, vapid, annoying, willingly ignorant, and worst of all, completely and desperately dependent on the acceptance of a guy-- no matter how controlling or abusive-- to validate her existence and her sense of self-worth.
I'm sorry, but that is a crap-tastic way to present a character.
If you're going to write about a self-deprecating girl who constantly belittles and demeans herself, you need to at least let her eventually come to the realization that she doesn't have to debase herself, and that she really is worthy of respect and healthy male attention. But if this never happens? If the main character never learns to respect herself? How am I the reader supposed to respect her? I honestly wish that Lenzi had developed into a strong and confident character. But this never happened. And it made me sad. Really, it did.
And then there's Reason Number Two why I didn't like this book-- Zak.
Whom I affectionately like to call Zak the Asshat.
Where do I even begin with how much I loathed this crappy excuse for a love interest?
Zak (the Asshat) was hands down the biggest jerk-wad I think I have ever read about. And what's worse, he was passed off as actually being in the running for Lenzi's heart! I mean if this is any indicator of what a cruddy little weasel he was-- the guy got drunk on page 40, tried to feel up Lenzi at her father's GRAVE and then abandoned her in a cemetery at night, in a bad neighborhood, on her freaking BIRTHDAY.
Oh, you heard me right.
Which brings me to what I hated most about this book-- the dysfunctional, abusive and completely NOT romantic relationship between Lenzi and Zak. So after everything that Zak puts her through, Lenzi goes right back to him so she can appease her mountain of insecurity, essentially turning into a total doormat and kissing the ground he walks on for the next 20-something chapters.
Because, you know, God forbid she lose this absolutely perfect specimen of male chivalry.
Yes, I know she goes off with Alden to do her whole Ghost-Speaker thing, but here's what grinds my gears: Lenzi never gets a clue about what a dirt bag this guy really was-- and what really scared me was that the author never seemed to have a clue either, because even by the very end, Lenzi was still spouting about how Zak was such a "cool guy" and her only "real friend."
Well, NO-- no he wasn't.
Actually, he was a controlling, possessive, alcoholic, and even dangerous and abusive psycho. And I'm not OK with that never being addressed. I'm NOT OK with that kind of a person being passed off as romantic or attractive.
To hammer home my point, there is even one point at the end of the book where Lenzi gets into a car with drunk Zak, and tells him it's all her fault that their relationship failed and that she's a freak who isn't good enough for him-- this is the same guy, I'll mention one more time, who abandoned her in a bad neighborhood at night on her birthday, and possessively stalked her to the point where the police should have been involved! Umm, NOT OK!!
[Side Note: If I had to hear Zak say "babe" at the end of one more sentence, the book would have gotten hurled across Starbucks. (Not really, it was a library book-- and I wouldn't want to knock over anyone's triple venti macchiato-- but you know, in theory). Seriously, give me a fa-reaking break.]
Oh but wait ladies and gentlemen-- there's more douche-baggery ahead!
Let me introduce you to Alden, Lenzi's second love interest, whom I affectionately like to refer to as Asshat #2. Alden is Lenzi's Protector who keeps her safe from all the big, bad Malevolents. Except for the fact that he never tells her anything, keeps her completely in the dark, and did I mention that he is TURNED ON by Lenzi's fear and pain? Yes, I kid you not, it actually says in the book that Alden Asshat #2 is turned on by Lenzi's fear and pain.
I'm sorry, but isn't that the definition of sadism??? Why yes, yes it is! And how lovely-- it's being passed off as hott, sexy and romantic!
[This is the part where I take a long, deep breath and try not to FLIP THE CRAP OUT.]
Alrighty, so added to all this wonderfully disturbing twistedness, the book was also full of some of the most bizarre and ridiculous one-liners that I've ever read, which illicited reactions running the gamut from bursting out laughing hysterically to slapping my forehead in total frustration to looking up from the pages like someone had just run across my yard wearing nothing but a thong and a cowboy hat.
Oh, I know you're curious now! Well here are a few little gems that I couldn't resist mentioning:
We also have a wonderful villain in the story, named Smith. Smith is a crazed lunatic from the 19th century who is out to whack Lenzi due to a century-old grudge he has because Lenzi jilted him in some past lifetime. (Totally by coincidence, Smith was the only character in the book I liked.)
Finally-- and this is a HUGE pet peeve of mine in YA literature-- I HATE when the protagonist comes across as being mind-numbingly vapid and completely useless.
Now I don't want to beat a dead horse because I've already ranted about Lenzi, but I'm still not quite over her character and how she came across as being 115 pounds of pure dead-weight. Throughout the whole book, Lenzi is just thrown around by events outside her control and by the people (in this case, the boys) around her, and she reacts-- no real thought or action on her part changes the plot all that much, so she's basically a pretty-- albeit whiny-- little puppet.
And what's worse? It comes across as though Lenzi's entire sense of identity is wrapped up in whether she has a guy to fawn over. This bothers me big time, because not only is it annoying for me to have to read about; I think it sends a really bad message to readers in general. I mean, if you look at this story, Lenzi basically lets herself be a doormat for Zac to wipe his dirty boots on for the first half of the book, and the second half of the book is Lenzi pathetically trying to be a good Speaker just so she can impress Alden and live up to his expectations. AND she's also cheating on Zak, who yes, does win Asshat of the Year, but still, I was not at all impressed with our girl Lenzi throwing herself at Alden when *technically* she was still with Asshat-- I mean, Zak.
So yeah, I don't like any of that. Why couldn't she have wanted to be a kick-ass Speaker to make herself happy, to increase her own self-confidence, based on what she's capable of and not what some dude thinks of her? Not to stand on a feminist soap-box, but I'm just saying, I would have liked to see Lenzi be more independent, strong-willed and confident, without the whole "I'm nothing without a man" attitude.
Sigh... OK, so after that tirade, it's now time to say something positive about this book. It's a policy of mine that no matter how much I disliked a book, I won't leave a review without stating at least ONE thing that I did like about it. So I will say that the action scenes in this book were really well done, and the concept of the Speakers and Protectors freeing the Hindered and fighting the Malevolents was a really good one-- I thought it was interesting and creative.
Honestly, I did, I'm not just saying that to avoid getting the stink-eye numerous times for being a total jerk about this book...
So to wrap up this really long review, I will just say that there were lots of readers out there who adored Shattered Souls. I totally respect their opinions, and know that my review is only one of many. And even though I didn't like it, that doesn't mean that you won't! I can't recommend this book myself, but I would suggest checking out other reviewer's opinions of it to see whether it's something you want to get into.
[FINAL NOTE: To fully appreciate my feelings and reactions to this book, it's best to read my Goodreads status updates-- in fact, if I didn't get all of this off my chest while I was reading the book, I'm pretty sure I would've had an aneurysm, no joke. So a big thank-you to Goodreads for helping me to maintain my sanity.]
OK, I admit it-- I was a total sucker for this cover. I saw that dang cover and I had to get this and read it. Unfortunately, I was not as impressed by the story inside as I was by the rose-petal-prettiness that first lured me in. And well, to be perfectly honest, the cover in person is a little strange if you look at it closely-- it sort of looks like the girl was cut in half at her torso and then petals were pasted on top. It is still beautiful, but the design could've been a little more put together...