Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Book Review: Shattered Souls

Author: Mary Lindsey
Publisher: Philomel/Penguin
Release Date: December 8, 2011
Pages: 336
Read it in: 2 days

Summary: A thrilling debut story of death, love, destiny and danger Lenzi hears voices and has visions - gravestones, floods, a boy with steel gray eyes. Her boyfriend, Zak, can't help, and everything keeps getting louder and more intense. Then Lenzi meets Alden, the boy from her dreams, who reveals that she's a reincarnated Speaker - someone who can talk to and help lost souls - and that he has been her Protector for centuries.

Now Lenzi must choose between her life with Zak and the life she is destined to lead with Alden. But time is running out: a malevolent spirit is out to destroy Lenzi, and he will kill her if she doesn't make a decision soon.

LC's Take:

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.

Didn't.

Happen.

[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.

~Brief Summary~

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...

~My Thoughts~

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.

Say whaaaat?!?

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:

"Even lifeless, he was hot." ~p.80 (OK, that's a little creepy...)

"I wasn't addicted to Xanax, but I could certainly become addicted to Alden." ~p.116 (I literally burst out laughing for a good 5 minutes after reading this.)

"Should I shake his hand or kiss him good night on the cheek? Maybe I should act like Spook and just lick his face." ~p.138 (No comment-- I'll just let you revel in the sheer awkwardness of this quote.)

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.]

~Cover Talk~

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...

LC's Rating:
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Ugh, I really feel bad that I disliked this book so much, especially since so many other readers loved it. But basically, I was completely disappointed with Lenzi, the main character. The story itself was creative, but the dysfunctional romance and undeveloped protagonist were total turn-offs for me!

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27 comments:

  1. I was following along with your goodreads posts while you were reading it. I couldn't wait to see your review of it. I have to say I almost bought this book the other day but hadn't heard enough about it so I passed it up. I am super glad I did. From reading your review and others this would not be for me. Thanks for the heads up!
    [:
    ShawnaLeAnn
    Dreaming In The Pages Enter My Giveaway

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  2. Awesome review. I love ranty reviews!! I think they are the most interesting kind of reviews! I'm still gonna read this one at some point, but I am definitely going into it with lowered expectations. Incidentally, you aren't the only one that mentioned how strange the cover looks in person. I saw someone else on Goodreads mention the same thing you did. Crappy design job I gather.

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    1. Thanks Kara :) I will be on the look-out for your review of this one in the future!

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  3. A lot of people seems to have mixed or not such good things to say about this book. What a shame, the concept sounded good and the cover is gorgeous.

    Safari Poet

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  4. Whoa. What a strong review. I love how you back up your opinions w/examples. It shows tgat you aren't being negative just for the sake of it. I Dobt know if I could have been as strong as you about finishing this. I may have lost my sh*t when Zak abandoned her & she still kept following him around. I was an idiot as a teenager, but I still wouldnt have been that pathetic. Those one-liners are completely awkward. It reminds me of a book I recently read that had gems like that. I felt like I was being Punk'd. It was ridiculous. I am so glad I haven't bought this. I won't waste my time. GREAT review!

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    1. Thanks Andrea :)

      I always try to make my points very clear and specific when I dislike a book. It isn't to offend anyone, but just to be honest and speak out about what I wasn't a fan of.

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  5. Lol I love your review...very entertaining. I think sometimes you just have to have a good rant. I've already bought this, so I will still read it, but I'm feeling apprehensive about it.

    The Cait Files

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    1. I'll be looking forward to seeing what you think about it! ;)

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  6. UGH...I was reading this one today and was thinking exactly what you just said. I also don't like how the timeline would stall and then all of a sudden move really quick. Plus how can she be afraid of Alden for the first few chapters and then all of a sudden it is like she gets smacked in the head! She accepts what he said, then wants his help, then is freaked out again, then she thinks it might be real, etc, blah blah...LOL
    I finally had to put it down and give up on it. Then I saw your review and was thinking the EXACT SAME THING! LOL
    Well said!

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    1. Thanks Amy :) I'm glad you enjoyed the review, if not the book, sometimes you just have to get out your frustrations! Oh well, I'm hoping her next book will be much better, I really am looking forward to it! :)

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  7. Oh my, I'm the same way when it comes to reading books- I hate not finishing them. I'm always afraid that they'll get better on the next page and I'll have missed out.

    Hehe, the next time I don't like a male YA romance, I'm definitely going to affectionately call him an asshat.

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    1. It's probably one of my favorite insults lol :P

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  8. I applaud you for being so honest about a book that you didn't like! Sometimes I read blogs and the writer gives 4 or 5 stars to everything, and I wonder if they just love all of the books so that they'll get shipped more ARCs for review. So it's refreshing to see when someone doesn't like a book, and isn't afraid to say so. This review was actually quite entertaining to read =)

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    1. Haha yes, if I don't like a book-- you'll know about it! lol :P Glad you liked the review, I had to vent ;)

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  9. Nice story! its warm me awesome!:)

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  10. Woah, great review! This one has been on my to-read for awhile now, and I'm still going to read it, but now it's further down the list. I was also a sucker for that cover. :P

    Angie @ Pinkindle Reads & Reviews

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  11. "Should I shake his hand or kiss him good night on the cheek? Maybe I should act like Spook and just lick his face." Man, this is just plain weird!

    Thanks for your eye-opening review. Seriously. I think I'm going to remove this from my wish list. No point spending my precious time reading a book that I'm obviously not gonna like.

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  12. Great review, I loved reading this! You have very succinctly said exactly what you didn't like about it, without the spoilers, and I think I would feel the exact same way. I loved the quotes you chose as well, even out of context they made me cringe!
    This was on my wishlist after seeing some 5 star reviews of it, and I'm not too sure now- I think I'm just in love with the cover!

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  13. I tagged you! Can't wait to see your answers. Tagged!

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  14. This is one that I have been wanting to read *surprise* because of the pretty cover. I knew nothing of the plot. Sometimes that works for me - most of the time that works for me. Sometimes it doesn't. I'm not sure that I would have disliked the book quite as much as you (the only way to know for sure is to read it myself, right?) but I can tell you that now it'll be a while before I even consider it. Like, a long time. Like, once I've finished my TBR, I think. If I disliked it so much, I don't think I would've finished it, but YOU finishing it entertained the hell out of me. (I know that wasn't your reason for finishing it, but I thought I'd let you know anyway.) So glad I found your blog lately. It's lovely.

    Thanks for honest thoughts. So much. ;)

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  15. Such an interesting review! I love your honesty and how I hate the fact that I'm a sucker for a good cover; I'm going to give it a shot some day. Not now, because there are so many other good books, but I'll give it a try.

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  16. OMG this review had me laughing out loud the whole time I read it. I haven't read this book and well hearing this I'm not really sure I want to.

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  17. Now I've got to go read the book so I can see if it's really this craptastic!! Although, I do kind of wish I'd relied on the library instead of purchasing it. Ah well, if I find it as awful as you did, I'll just give it away.

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  18. Very entertaining...I think this was one of the best reviews I've read and I was laughing the entire time! I read this book last year and while I wasn't impressed with it, I didn't feel the hatred that you did. I think mine was 3 stars, but only for the premise. Linzi annoyed me too, mainly from the jumping from guy to guy. I hate that crap.

    On the DNF note - I know how you feel about needing to finish. When a book is making me really angry and eliciting straight up hatred, I'm compelled to make it through. The only way I'll put something down is out of straight boredom.

    Great review!

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  19. This review is hilarious. I don't think this book is on my TBR list, but if it is, I'm going to need to rethink that. I can't decide now if I want to read it or not. For lines like, "I wasn't addicted to Xanax. . . ." I might have to. . . . But then again, maybe not.

    Thanks for the awesome review!

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  20. This sounds like the worst book ever. Goodness gracious. It's still on my tbr pile, but I'm looking askance at it. Oh well, at least I'll have fun ranting about it, since I think I'm going to feel the same. Not that I would be reading it just to rant; I have it on my list for a book challenge. Sigh.

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  21. Shattered Souls is a magical debut that had me on my toes throughout the entire story! Lindsey is a wonderfully talented writer! I could picture the scenes crystal clear and could feel the emotions coming from the characters. I wish I had taken my time with the story but I just couldn't help myself! Once I started reading, I was sucked in and I couldn't stop for even a moment. You do not want to miss out on this magical debut!
    Decking Ipe for sale

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