April 24, 2015

Stacy Stokes: "Where the Staircase Ends" (Blog Tour and Giveaway)


Title: Where the Staircase Ends  [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Stacy Stokes [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Afterlife, Contemporary
Year: 2015
Age: 12+
Stars: 3/5 2.5/5 (Note, Sep. 8 2016: it's been a year and a half since I first read this book, and I've ended up feeling like I overrated it, if slightly. Of course, I could have opted out of the blog tour, but at the time I thought that a 3-star rating was fair. Now I have many more books under my belt, and I've come to realise that I enjoyed some of my 3-star ones more than WTSE. Having said this, it's a great concept for a story, and the author is super nice!).
Pros: Staircase, while serving as a tool for revisiting real life episodes, is full of surprises of its own. Story provides a life lesson.
Cons: Characters are pretty flawed - lead included. Also, all the fuss about Taylor's supposed shameful secret sounds a bit over the top to me.
WARNING! Casual (and unprotected) sex is mentioned; underage drinking and smoking are featured.
Will appeal to: Those who love character-driven stories (even if such characters are damaged). Those who like high-school drama. Those who are intrigued by a mystery setting.

Blurb: After her best friend orchestrates the lie that destroys her reputation, Taylor wants more than anything to disappear from her life. But when an accident turns this unspoke wish into reality, instead of an angel-filled afterlife, Taylor must climb a seemingly endless staircase into the sky. Instead of going up, the journey plunges her into the past. As she unravels the mystery behind her friend’s betrayal, she must face the truth about life and find the strength to forgive the unforgivable - unless the staircase breaks her first. (Amazon)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: as the banner above states, I'm taking part in this novel's blog tour. You know how picky I am - I signed up just because WTSE appealed to me. Also, I've talked to the author more than once (we are mutual followers via GFC and Twitter, too...not to mention we're both Christopher Pike fans!). Regardless, what you're about to read is my honest take on this book.
Being the afterlife and mystery buff that I am, I couldn't pass the chance of reading a book whose blurb promised an eerie staircase climbing into the skies and a supposedly dead character revisiting her own past. It turned out that this book wasn't all that I had anticipated (and I don't mean it in a bad way), but elaborating further would amount to a giant spoiler. Also, the ending may lead to different interpretations, though we're probably supposed to take it at face value. Sorry to be vague, but you know my policy...NO SPOILER :). Suffice to say, regardless of how you choose to read the ending, at the core of the book lies the path (or the staircase) that leads our main character there...
In an interview, the author stated that the idea for WTSE came to her in a dream. And what happens on the staircase has, indeed, a dreamlike quality, though it retains aspects of the harsh reality. Is it the afterlife? is it the fabrication of a dying mind? or is it a dream itself? Whatever it is, it's intriguing. While Taylor climbs the apparently infinite flight of steps, with no choice but to go and look ahead, the mysterious staircase and its all too vivid visions merge with scenes from her past, that not only serve the purpose of telling her story, but also force her to come to terms with her own faults. Besides, it's only near the end that we're revealed a vital piece of the puzzle - though it doesn't change what happens on the actual staircase and the reason behind it. [...]

Now, while I really liked what the author did with the staircase and the revelation I was talking about (which I didn't see coming), I have some issues in other departments. First off, Taylor's BFF Sunny didn't earn my sympathy. I appreciated how Stokes gave her a background that explains her behaviour, but IMO, it doesn't excuse her bullying attitude and gay (or supposed-gay) shaming. Taylor herself follows in her footsteps too easily, which detracts a bit from my sympathy for her own predicament. Also, if I have to be honest, Sunny doesn't deserve Taylor, faulty as the latter may be. I get the message the author wove into the book, about forgiveness and putting yourself in someone else's shoes, but like I said, I can't help but feeling that Sunny's problems don't excuse her actions. Then again, none of the main characters shine for their redeeming qualities. Even the love interest is prone to believing the bad rumour Sunny spread about Taylor...
Speaking of which, I can't entirely buy her schoolmates' reaction to it. Not only they seem to take everything Sunny says as gospel, but with all the drinking and smoking and sleeping around, it's a bit hard to believe they can be so shocked by Taylor's supposed secret. Though it's probably a testament to Sunny's popularity that she can badmouth her former best friend and get away with it. (Also, it's a long time since I was in high school...so what do I know? LOL).
I have to say that, though Taylor is a flawed character, she's a believable one too. From her relationship with Sunny and her own parents, to her craving for love (that will be responsible for some bad choices), to her inability to see the consequences of some of her actions, she does feel real. Which is more than can be said about many YA heroines nowadays.
If you like teen-angst filled stories with a message - not to mention a supernatural setting and an ongoing mystery - and you can deal with faulty characters, WTSE is the book for you. Which cues...MY VERY FIRST GIVEAWAY!!! Courtesy of Month9Books, you can win a digital copy of Where the Staircase Ends...just scroll down a little more. Good luck!

For more Afterlife books click here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Official: Stacy Stokes attended the University of Texas at Austin and The Wharton School of Business. She grew up in Dallas, TX, and currently lives in San Francisco with her husband. WHERE THE STAIRCASE ENDS is her first novel.
Unofficial: she's also a really nice person, who supports bloggers regardless of their popularity level. Only, don't feed her bananas. EVER.

Connect with Stacy: Website | Twitter



Thanks to Month9Books and Chapter By Chapter for including me in this blog tour!
List of my fellow participants here. Learn more about Where the Staircase Ends and its author! And try your luck (scroll)...




8 comments:

  1. 3/5 sounds generous - plot and character development sound weak but most disappointing in the 'lame' secret - this is the 21st century not 1950 ! Sounds 'half baked' to me - more believable characters and relationships would impress. But as a first effort ok I guess - hope for some more maturity credibility and complexity in her further YA works - if there are any - I don't be reading this - life's too short and do many great books out there. Excellent honest review. https://www.facebook.com/emma.read.1238/posts/10152659318656991

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    1. Some aspects were interesting - I suppose she can only grow better from here :).

      Thank you for commenting...so sorry I'm not on Facebook, so I can't visit you back! :(

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  2. It does sound interesting, and I love the title and cover. I can guess the rumor that Sunny spread, which even though it's not 1950 anymore- like your anonymous comment above pointed out, it really depends on where you live and the high school you attend nowadays. Yes, our society is a lot more open and accepting, but teens can be cruel to those that don't conform...

    I might pick this one up! Very interesting concept and I'm interested in where the staircase ends. ;)

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    1. If you think the rumour is about Taylor being a lesbian...well, that's not it ;), But my mouth is closed!
      Glad you find the time to stop by, even with your readathon up and running!

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  3. I love that cover! And also I love your writing style. Quote: "Also, the ending may lead to different interpretations, though we're probably supposed to take it at face value." Why so philosophical girl? I'll make sure to check this book, after I have finished my entire TBR list (thanks to you). BTW, I read Pike's "Remember Me", and also the other book "Shutter" you recommended me. What can I say? You have such a fine taste.

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    1. Philosophical? Oh, I've read Kant lately... ;)
      It's great that you liked the books - I feel less guilty for recommending them to you LOL. Now you only have to review RM...*hint hint*

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  4. Ambiguous ending…that sounds interesting!

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    1. I mostly think it has to be interpreted literally, but I discussed it with a fellow reviewer on Twitter and she might have a point...

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