I was quite excited for this novel as the blurb had seemed to be something a bit darker and more intense than the standard paranormal YA read. Indeed when I was idly flipping through it the random passages what I came upon seemed to support this notion. The problems however became apparent when I began to actually read the book.
Annaliese is...it's hard to say she's tough or timid without going into a drawn out explanation of her history. She's lived through a lot and probably a lesser person would have crumbled completely. We're told, frequently, that Annaliese is brilliant, courageous--a real cut above the rest of her peers. The book doesn't support this though. If Annaliese was so brilliant, why didn't she check with her school to make sure everything went through okay? Or ask to talk to someone in the admissions office--a counselor or supervisor maybe instead of sulking and panicking that her life was over. Why was she so alone and isolated back home in school, but on the Isle she's suddenly sociable?
There is also the added fact that the utter misery that Annaliese lived in seemed so contrived. I'm not naive in thinking every abused child gets help, but I found it hard to swallow that someone as brilliant as Annaliese, as gifted and ambitious as she portrays herself, would not have caught the attention of someone at the school. She didn't make it sound like she had 'dumbed' herself down and tried to hide her intelligence so how did she fly so low?
The fact she goes off with Ronan without so much as an 'I want proof you aren't some sort of sicko' was a bit disturbing as well. Common sense doesn't always go hand in hand with genius, but Annaliese proclaimed herself 'street smart' as well. It does not seem 'street smart' to run off with the first hot, accented, Proust spouting guy you meet.
I will give Wolfe credit however--the book is dark. It gets very intense at times and the stakes seem justifiably high. While I wasn't under the illusion that Annaliese would die (this is only book 1) I wasn't as certain about some of the companions she made and connections. These people were hardcore and didn't seem to care so much about sentiment.
It's my hope that the series improves with book 2. It's also my hope that we find out some of the coincidences that landed Annaliese at the Isle are revealed to be machinations by the Watchers....but I won't hold my breath for that.
Is life offering fewer and fewer options? Then join the dead.
When Annelise meets dark and seductive Ronan, he promises her a new life-if she has the courage to chance the unknown. Now, she's whisked away to a mysterious island and pitted against other female recruits to become a Watcher-girls who are partnered with vampires and assist them in their missions. To survive and become a Watcher, Annelise has to beat out every other girl, but she's determined to do so, because to fail doesn't mean dishonor-it means death.