June 12, 2016

Graham McNamee: "Beyond"

Title: Beyond [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Graham McNamee [Site: none so far (including Facebook and Twitter) | Goodreads]
Genres: Supernatural, Horror, Afterlife, Thriller/Mystery
Year: 2012
Age: 12+
Stars: 2.5/5
Pros: Interesting premise. Lead you can empathise with. Peculiar sidekick. Family plays a big role.
Cons: Main characters lack depth. Their friendship feels a bit unlikely. Massive use of colloquial/informal speech (understood subject).
WARNING!: Kid abuse is implied. There's tension and psychological horror, and the ending is pretty intense. Nothing terribly scary though.
Will appeal to: First-time horror/supernatural readers.

Blurb: Jane is not your typical teen. She and her best friend Lexi call themselves the Creep Sisters. Only Lexi knows why Jane is different from anyone else: her own shadow seems to pull her into near-fatal accidents. Jane is determined to find out why these terrifying things happen, and to overcome her shadow enemy. Her sleuthing with Lexi connects her own horrors to the secret history of a serial killer. (Amazon)

Review: Premise...despite my rating, this is not a bad book. I had a few problems with it, but in all honesty, I think that, as a horror/supernatural novel for beginners, it delivers. I'd recommend it to young teens who are dipping their toes in the genres.

BIZARRE FRIENDSHIP

First off, the blurb is not accurate. Jane would, indeed, be a fairly typical teen, if not for her shadow trying to kill her since she was a kid. She's a nice character...only, you know, a little bland. Now, her best Lexi is definitely the not typical half of their small team, with her goth appearance and her penchant for shooting videos that, more often than not, revolve around dead and decomposing animals. Mind you, I enjoyed the descriptions of Lexi's photography and videomaking, because the author was able to convey both her passion for those artistic media and her "vision". What I didn't buy was Lexi's friendship with Jane to begin with. It sounds like Lexi originally went after Jane because she was a freak in some respect, courtesy of one of her "incidents" that had left her hands burned. Yes, Lexi is protective of Jane, and helpful when it comes to investigate her scary situation, but still I was never able to get a real sense of their friendship.

PECULIAR SHADOW

The mystery behind Jane's predicament was what kept the book going for me. I do believe it's an original spin on the "killer shadow" myth. The connection between Jane and such shadow, the reason why it tries to kill her, the reason why it has a life of its own to begin with - it was fascinating to read. If the Goosebumps or Point Horror series still existed, Beyond would make for a solid addition to both...even more sophisticated than some of their original books, I can safely say. [...]

BRING IN THE PARENTS

Family plays a role in this one. Actually, a big role, since Jane's parents don't know the truth behind their daughter's frequent brushes with death, and are afraid there's a hidden death wish in her or something. Not to mention Jane's sleepwalking, that has got to the point where she needs to be monitored by a GPS locator chip. Despite keeping a huge secret, Jane is close to her parents, which is a refreshing departure from all the sulky or parentless teens who populate YA nowadays.

THE BOY DELIVERS

There's also the promise of a romance, which - for reasons connected to Jane's secret nightmare - stays pretty much under the radar until the last pages. I have to say I found it funny how Jane lusts about Ryan - and the male models on the covers of her beloved romance novels. For some reason, I think the way it's done shows that behind Jane there is a male author. Ryan is sweet, though. He's a delivery boy for Jane's mom - who owns a flower shop - and he connects with Jane over nature and stuff.

THAT'S UNDERSTOOD

To be honest, I had some issues with the writing style. Very short sentences aside, Jane has a penchant for understood subjects - e.g. "Must have been sleepwalking." or "Feels like my skull's split apart. Can't see straight." - not only when she talks, but also when she thinks (because nowhere it says she's writing down her story). I'm not a grammar nazi (well, actually, I kind of am...but I can be lenient if I want LOL), but I find it unnecessary and just-for-the-sake-of-it, at least when it's used for Jane's inner monologue.

FIRST THRILLS

This book is not easy to place. Despite the main character's age and the terrifying "incidents" she endures - not to mention the somehow morbid videos her best friend likes to shoot - it reads more like MG than YA. I found myself unable to rate it higher, but on the other hand, I'm aware that it's not entirely the book's fault - it fell into the wrong hands to begin with. Then again, like I said, there are issues that can't be ignored. I'd still recommend it to younger readers who are new to horror/supernatural/mystery novels.

HAIRY SITUATION

Final note: of course, in the middle of all the commotion, Jane finds the time to whine about her "frizzy hair". I suppose McNamee was striving for realism, since so many teens of the female species would kill in order to have a perfectly straight, silky, "disciplined" and "socially acceptable" coiffure. But FOR GOODNESS SAKE, AUTHORS, STOP THE WHOLE CRUSADE AGAINST "FRIZZY HAIR". Curls are the universe's gift to mankind, and I only wish I was one of the lucky ones bestowed with them instead of having to perm my hair to get the look that says who I am inside. I get it, you probably hear female teens complaining about their not-straight hair all the time, but could you please depict ONE heroine who is into her curls for once? who doesn't want to conform to hair steroetypes? Also, stop using the word "frizzy". It's so snooty. Like The Closer's Brenda Leigh Johnson would say, thank you, thank you so much.

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Alternate cover

4 comments:

  1. I do like the idea behind this, but yes, it does sound like a 1980's horror YA. What I liked so much about Pike (and still do) was that his work stood out at a time when other authors seemed to be writing to a younger audience. I read a book recently, which like this one was a decent YA Thriller, but it lacked the depth that I've come to expect in today's YA books.

    Still, it's hard to pass up a killer shadow! ;)

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    Replies
    1. LOL, it is!

      I totally agree about Pike (of course!), though I don't necessarily LOVE all his books...and about the depth problem. On the other hand, sometimes I'm afraid that some books seem lacking to us because we are adults reading YA. Maybe there's still a place for simpler or less sophisticated novels...maybe younger teens can enjoy them...maybe it's even healthy for them to do that...I don't know! That's why I always try to give such books the benefit of the doubt, even when I personally can't bring myself to rate them higher...

      Delete
  2. Jane would be a fairly typical teen if not for her shadow trying to kill her... That would make things troublesome lol

    Karen @For What It's Worth

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a great blurb - far better than the original LOL.

      Delete

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