Thursday, November 1, 2012

{A Kelly Coffee Review} Other Side of Forever by Shannon Eckrich

Title: Other Side of Forever
Author: Shannon Eckrich
Publisher: Crescent Moon Press
Genre: YA/Paranormal fantasy

Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Allie Anderson's telekinetic powers are anything but useful--she can't bring her father back, can't stop her mother's downward spiral into alcohol, and can't keep her from falling in love with Ethan Bradley. Loving Ethan is easy, but it comes with a hefty price: Ethan is prohibited by his people from interacting with mortals--because he isn't mortal himself. When Allie and Ethan's love is discovered, there's someone who will do anything to keep them apart. If Allie can't learn to control her powers and fight to save Ethan, this dark entity will make every attempt to stop her beating heart. And if that happens, not even the energy of an immortal can bring her back.

First thing about this review is that real life sort of interrupted me between accepting the read/review for this book and actually getting around to reading it. I say that because by the time I got around to it, I had forgotten what the blurb said and started reading it with a completely clean slate. It means I didn't know about her take on mortals and immortals, which is a prime part of the suspense of the novel and probably made it a much better read. I kept thinking "I swear I didn't have a vampire book on my list, and things aren't quite right for vamps anyway..." At the same time, the mystery had me intrigued and it was a genuinely different twist on the idea. 

The building and the pacing in the beginning of the novel are very good. I seemed to blink and be 20% in. The author does a good job of keeping you in the dark (provided you've forgotten the blurb), and not telling you until the last minute. The concept as a whole has great potential. It's different, I love me some immortals, and it's a bit unexpected, especially in a time where the market is flooded with vampire/werewolf paranormal books. 

That being said, there were a couple of things that really irked me about this book, and the more I read, the worse they got. The prime one is an issue of dialogue. Of all the problems I have with books, that usually isn't one of them, but in this book it definitely was.  It was awkward in places, dialogue tags that didn't seem to match with what I was "hearing" the characters say (you know, someone says something sarcastically except the answer isn't actually a sarcastic one?), and progressing to some dialogue that was just painfully out of place. Things that made me stop and re-read and assure myself that, yes, that was actually in quotes, she did actually just say that. There are mini-info dumps in dialogue with language that no modern day teenager would use (at least, none that I've ever known). I realize that I'm a bit more of a critical reader than most, but I shared the first example that really tripped me up with a friend and was asked if it was a historical novel; the language is that out of context. It isn't everywhere, but once it begins, it rather continues, making what had been an effortless read a lot more stilted and unnatural for me. 

The second is the action sequence at the end of the book. Having been through a few lately whose action sequences were their strengths, this one was definitely a weakness, up to and including the trite villain monologue (again in that weird not quite right language). There wasn't a rush for it, no drive to see from one moment to the next, a lot of fuzzy, in-and-out pacing (it's deliberate, but very awkward), it just didn't read very smoothly and didn't drag me to the finish line. 

The characters are more-or-less just kind of there. I never got very strong mental images of most of them. I think the potential for this idea and these characters is there, I'm just not entirely sure that it's been fully realized yet. However, if you're looking for a contemporary paranormal read and are over vamps and werewolves, based on strength of concept alone, you should definitely give Other Side of Forever a try. I'd pick up another book from this world, just to see where she goes with it.

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