I am a fully-motivated and crazy reader of avid proportions. A book is always at the ready no matter where I am, usually a fantasy of some kind or contemporary. (Nie zu viele Bücher!)
*This is a review of an uncorrected proof, and quotes/excerpts may therefore differ from the final copy.
As someone who very rarely reads books from the young adult paranormal category—and I do mean rarely (read: mostly never)—I approached Kelsey Sutton’s Some Quiet Place with a strange mix of apprehension and anticipation. It is only recently that I’ve begin to warm up to this genre, and even so, I’ve opened myself up to a mere few, such as the likes of Kendare Blake’s Anna Dressed in Blood. I have to face it: my paranormal shelf is a pathetically small. I suppose that is partly why I became interested in Sutton’s book. I wanted to expand my tastes and shatter misconceptions I have about this genre, but I also found the premise genuinely interesting.
I don’t know what it is to feel.
I can’t experience the freedom of grief, the abandon of ecstasy, the release of fury. And of course I can’t be curious about these experiences.
I don’t have the luxury of people around me. I can’t weep, I can’t lust, I can’t cower in terror, I can’t celebrate. Not in a true sense; I’ve grown talented in the art of pretending. The only sensation I’m capable of—not an Emotion but something physical—is a sort of … nothingness that’s always there.
Elizabeth Caldwell can feel no Emotion, not since she was a hit by a car as a child. While Emotions don’t affect her, she does, however, see them. On the day of a car accident, something in Elizabeth changed. Her eyes made discernible what no other human can see: Elements, like Fog, or Emotions, like Courage or Regret. As real as anyone, they roam the earth as invisible beings. One touch from an Emotion is enough to affect humans, but not Elizebath—and they’ve given up on ever influencing her. All but one: Fear. He’s determined to find the cause of what prevents Elizabeth from feeling, and when an evil presence begins stalking her, uncovering the truth may be Elizabeth’s only key for survival.
Because Elizabeth lacks any ability to feel, I worried. I worried because although Elizabeth doesn’t feel, she falls back on pure logic to understand people and the world she lives in. I wondered how little room—if any—this would leave for a personality. As much as I welcome smart characters, I won’t stick around if they’re sucked dry of life, but Kelsey Sutton shattered those worries on page one. Sutton impressed me, and quite instantly, because Elizabeth proved shockingly rounded. More than that, the prose puts evocative language to such good use that the main character’s resigned and muted qualities failed to bother me.
“You were going to live next door and we would grow old in the same nursing home. Chuck oatmeal at each other and watch soap operas all day in our rocking chairs. That was my day dream. My perfect life. I don’t want to keep asking myself why until the end, but…” A lone tear trails down her sunken cheek. This time I don’t reach out to wipe the water away; I let it go. Down, down, until it drips off the side of her jaw. This is humanity. This is life and death in one room.
For a good while, I believed Some Quiet Place would get a four-star rating out of me. The writing has quality and, for the most part, characters are complex and interesting. They're solid and never hollow, and while the book is not perfect, I wanted to love it and let it enchant me. But then, slowly, the novel wore off its charm, and I looked passed Sutton's well-written sentences. A little dismayed, I hate to say that I began noticing bothersome aspects.
If there is one predominant feature through all of young adult literature, it has to be love triangles. It’s tough enough trying to find young adult novels that don’t pair main characters up with at least one love interest, and it’s just as challenging—if not more—to stay away from love triangles. They’re rampant with no hint of dying out, and it surprises me how many authors choose the same romantic route. Some Quiet Place starts out well, like a nice showcase of good writing and the possibility of something more blooming between Elizabeth and Fear. Unfortunately, Kelsey Sutton introduces Joshua Hayes, who unknowingly becomes a wrecking ball. This is a problem, and for obvious reasons.
Scooting aside the issue that love triangles are annoying, I’m frustrated by a lack of committed relationships in young adult literature. Elizabeth Caldwell could have had something solid with either Joshua or Fear, yet her absence of feeling complicates her relationship with both boys. It’s Fear, though, whom she shares the most with, and it always felt like they had stronger compatibility. (I should also admit my inclination toward Fear over Joshua. Fear is “the bad boy,” while Joshua remains the opposite. Fear displays a disturbing quality a few times that screams possessiveness, and that didn’t go unnoticed by me. At the same time, Joshua’s character bored me while Fear proved more interesting.) The idea that Elizabeth will, for some reason, “need” Joshua in the end—which is what Elizabeth believes—constantly pops up as if to remind the reader why he’s there. This made the love triangle feel strained and forcefully added in.
We’re silent, a fragmented pretense of belonging, and we all know it.
Some Quiet Place is not, however, a paranormal romance—at least it doesn’t feel that way. There is little to no lusting or yearning, which has much to do with Elizabeth’s unique situation, and there are other issues besides romance that Sutton tries to address. Issues such as bullying, abuse from Elizabeth’s father, and the great mystery that surrounds Elizabeth’s accident. These other issues, however, feel somewhat like background noise. Take Maggie, for example. She is Elizabeth’s only friend who is dying of cancer, but her role didn’t feel as important as it’s meant to be. It’s true that Elizabeth’s own disconnect contributed to my own, but Maggie seems insignificant if she can’t mean anything to the main character. And when Elizabeth should be uncovering the truth about who and what she is, Joshua becomes a distraction or she’s thinking about Fear. While there were moments where I wasn’t sure who Elizebeth would end up with—Fear or Joshua—it is unfortunate that the romance out-does the book’s other conflicts.
This book starts out on good footing, but as the story progresses, it trips over its own feet. Despite that and slow pacing, I can’t deny the talent in Kelsey Sutton. She can write, and she does write—perhaps with more overshadowing romance than I prefer or deem necessary, but potential for growth is there in an already good writer. For that reason alone, I look forward to seeing more from this author and intend to read her future work.
The truth is, I hide my real nature, because if I don’t, my nothingness would consume me. I would become a wondering creature, with no connection and no soul. My life in Edson isn’t perfect at all, but it is a life—the only one I’ll ever have. So, even though I can’t hold any feeling for my place in this family or this town, I will hold onto it because I can.
Thank you to NetGalley and Flux for providing a free copy of Some Quiet Place in exchange for my honest review.