Author: Nick Lake
Rating: 3.5 / 5 stars
I really want to give this book a 4 or 4.5 stars rating, but the Dreaming aspect of this novel just took away so much from the plot to really make it an honest to God enjoyable YA suspense novel. If you remove the Dreaming portions of this story, and the Coyote, then suddenly this novel is a blow your socks off mystery/suspense. But as a whole, in the end this novel just fails to pull it all together for my taste.
There will be two lies and then the truth.
This is a common element that Lake weaves throughout the entirety of the novel, and even at the end I am not sure what the two lies are and what the truth is. To be certain, there are a lot of lies in this novel/in Shelby's life, as she is fixing to find out. Now that I have finished the novel and have had a few hours to dwell on it, I almost feel like the Dreaming is an element that Lake cooked up just to add suspense. In addition, Shelby's constant comments in her narrative such as, "Later I think: I should stop saying these sorts of things to myself" drive me crazy, because they tease that the plot is going to get much, much worse for her before it gets any better. In this case, Lake does not disappoint, for this is certainly the case.
If you can skim through the Dreaming, and ignore the talking Coyote, then this novel is still an enjoyable read. It certainly contains enough plot twists to keep you guessing all the way to the end. And even though the resolution to the plot is a tad bit on the anti-climatic side, I have to say I love the ending. Love, love, love it. It is such a suitable farewell to the story, that I do not think he could have done a better final chapter.
While I am - clearly - not a fan of the Dreaming aspect of this novel, I have to give Lake props for his prose and story telling abilities. Right off the bat, I am invested in Shelby's story, and the further down the rabbit hole we get, the more I am attached to her character. The prose is certainly unique, and though it is perhaps a bit awkward in the beginning, it is definitely the right call for this novel of realistic suspense woven in with paranormal dreams.
The only other issue I have to pick with Lake is take he could have done some more fact checking. Having just driven to the Grand Canyon last week from Las Vegas, I can say with certainty that (1) it's 64, not 68, and there is no sign that says DO YOU HAVE ENOUGH GAS? NO PUMPS FOR 50 MILES. In addition, though the Owl states with upmost certainty that, "there was a First Woman and a First Man. One hundred percent, actually, really, there was," there was not. I even had to stop reading to do a little research on the mitochondrial eve, just to make certain. I am sure this is one of my own little annoying personality traits, but little things like these can really distract me from a book, as I obsess over the little facts being correct.
All and all, I would still say it is a book worth reading, though I will catalog it as a read once, and borrow from the library versus buying yourself.