Publishing Info: January 26, 2016 by HarperCollins
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: March 21, 2016
Breezy remembers leaving the party: the warm, wet grass under her feet, her cheek still stinging from a slap to her face. But when she wakes up, scared and pulling dirt from her mouth, a year has passed and she can’t explain how.
Nor can she explain the man lying at her grave, dead from her touch, or why her heartbeat comes and goes. She doesn’t remember who killed her or why. All she knows is that she’s somehow conscious—and not only that, she’s able to sense who around her is hiding a murderous past.
Haunted by happy memories from her life, Breezy sets out to find answers in the gritty, threatening world to which she now belongs—where killers hide in plain sight, and a sinister cult is hunting for strange creatures like her. What she discovers is at once empowering, redemptive, and dangerous.
Debut author Kali Wallace interweaves folklore and myths from all over the world in this stunning novel about the heartbreaking trauma of a girl’s life cut short and her struggle to reconcile her humanity with the monster she’s become.
Warning: This is going to be a bit of a ranty review and actual discussion of plot which I don’t normally do. I actually didn’t have much of an expectation before I started this book but I did something I don’t normally do and I skimmed some reviews before I picked it up. I was looking for a new audiobook to listen to and some of my available review copies had gotten less than stellar reviews so I landed on SHALLOW GRAVES. From people’s comments, I knew it wasn’t a zombie book and yet main character Breezy really isn’t quite alive either. I was definitely curious throughout the book but I had one main issue that kept coming back to haunt me (no pun intended) and that was that the book seemed to lack a clear focus.
The book starts with Breezy on the scene, working with her ability to identify killers. She’s discovered she has the ability to spot a “shadow” on a murderer and the first plot points involve her seemingly following a mission to end the lives of killers thanks to whatever this is that came with her undeadness (she woke up in a shallow grave and we find out she’s not quite alive but she’s not quite dead). The story continued on for a while with this focus but it was a lot of action but not a whole lot of explanation — is the main focus of the book was hunting down killers or finding out how she got this ability? As I kept reading, I found myself wondering exactly what the whole point of the book was because it still wasn’t clear. What was the question we needed an answer to? When Breezy started questioning if she could die again and exactly how she got to be that way, I figured that had to be the end goal of the book.
Then all of a sudden, the book took a turn. Breezy ended up in a compromising situation in the middle of nowhere and became trapped. Then other supernatural/non-human characters got involved. Because of the turn of events, I tried to adjust my focus to fit more of a Sleepy Hollow meets True Blood (minus the vampires) meets what I would assume Supernatural is like but I haven’t seen it — a paranormal focus. (They called them monsters.) So the book continued on with Breezy learning about monsters, meeting new people, and I figured they would end up on some sort of mission to figure out what Breezy is (no one really knows). Once I adjusted to that idea, another new concept came up and I was just totally lost on where this book was going and what I was supposed to be getting out of it.
The focus of the book changed so many times that I had no idea what it was even about. I actually got really bored (and annoyed) about halfway through and almost stopped but I was on an hour plus drive and had no other audiobooks to listen to so I kept slogging through. The action picked up but went in a totally random direction… again. This book was seriously just all over the place and it’s not like I need a purpose spelled out for me — I feel like I can follow quite a bit — but there were too many questions posed with no answers and then other things just randomly introduced out of nowhere.
The characters were enjoyable but confusing. I felt like the author was trying to do too many things with characters like Rain, Mr. Willow, and even Breezy sometimes. I actually really liked Zeke and Jake. The involvement of a “family” of supernatural characters was fun but it seemed to pop into the story from nowhere and I wished the book could have either been entirely about Breezy and figuring out what she is (WHAT THE HELL IS SHE) or have them be involved from the start. If this actually is a series (IS IT? The ending sure left some things wide open and yet there’s no mention of it being a series anywhere) I think it would have worked better to have those supernatural characters emerge in book two after Breezy has already established what she is, what she can do, and when she has no place to go, BAM she finds a new monster family in the next book.
I just really felt like this book had no focus. It was just so scattered that it made it hard to follow. It needed a lot more structure and a logical flow for why Breezy ended up where she did and how these people became involved in her life. It’s another one of those books where it could have benefited from a whole lot more backstory before things actually pop up but instead they just happened seemingly when the book needed an action point and not truly where they fit in.
If it actually is a series, I probably won’t read book two. If it’s not, I’m pretty freakin’ frustrated that it ended like it did. I just had a very hard time trying to follow what in the world SHALLOW GRAVES was about and it would have been nice to have at least one big answer, even if it is a series. It was a fairly frustrating read for me.
“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!
Breezy // Character Obsessions: Shadows, answers, memories, death
I really liked Breezy in a lot of ways. She was fairly casual, seemed easy to get along with, and just seemed really down-to-earth. I actually really liked her character throughout the whole book and I think that’s what kept me reading when I was frustrated.
Kept Me Hooked On: Paranormal. I don’t read a lot of paranormal/urban fantasy these days so it was fun to read a book about “monsters”. I only wish we had spent more time getting to know each of them instead of introducing them and then moving on.
Left Me Wanting More: Plotting. The book really just seemed to jump from place to place. It would follow for a while and then end up in a totally random place.
It wasn’t a terrible book but it was terribly frustrating. I just can’t recommend something that I felt so frustrated with.
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(Click the cover to see my review!)