Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Review: Some Quiet Place by Kelsey Sutton

Elizabeth Caldwell doesn’t feel emotions . . . she sees them. Longing, Shame, and Courage materialize around her classmates. Fury and Resentment appear in her dysfunctional home. They’ve all given up on Elizabeth because she doesn’t succumb to their touch. All, that is, save one—Fear. He’s intrigued by her, as desperate to understand the accident that changed Elizabeth’s life as she is herself.

Elizabeth and Fear both sense that the key to her past is hidden in the dream paintings she hides in the family barn. But a shadowy menace has begun to stalk her, and try as she might, Elizabeth can barely avoid the brutality of her life long enough to uncover the truth about herself. When it matters most, will she be able to rely on Fear to save her?

Paperback, 350 pages
Expected publication: July 8th 2013 by Flux

(info grabbed from GoodReads)

Some Quiet Place held one of the top spots on my most anticipated of 2013 list.  The concept had me hooked: a girl who feels no emotions but can see them as people.  I was very interested in seeing how this idea could be turned into a full novel and make an interesting character.  However, while I did think that the mystery behind Elizabeth (our blank emoticon) was well done, the character it was centered around completely fell flat.  If it weren't for how intriguing the book was, I probably would not have finished it.

It is a supreme challenge to create a character that lacks emotions and still can move the reader.  I felt like there were situations added to create sympathy for Elizabeth, but it didn't work for me as I did not care about her to begin with.  Elizabeth may be void of emotions, but I don't think she necessarily had to lack a personality.  As is pointed out in the book, she does experience minor emotions.  There would have been absolutely no story without them; she experiences curiosity which causes her to delve into her past and the reason behind her "condition."  I know for a fact that curiosity is an emotion because it is on every one of those "I feel..." charts where you select what you're feeling for the day.  And if you didn't know, yes those are the difinitive resource for determining what is an emotion.  The way it was written gave the reader that same sense of emptiness, but I thought there could have been more inner conflict.  Or maybe there couldn't, but I definately wanted more.  Her inner thoughts about emptiness could have been more complex and witty.  Based solely on how she's written, Elizabeth was a shallow character.  But again, maybe that was the idea, to which I have to point out does not make for a very interesting read.

The secondary characters were little more than plot devices.  Fear (a personified emotion) was there to push the story along as Elizabeth does not care enough to do so on her own.  Her friend Maggie was there to induce emotion.  The human boy love interest was there to create romantic conflict.  And the list goes on.  The character I was most disappointed with was the mean girl stereotype who was nothing more than just the mean girl stereotype.  Throwing petty insults and being mean with very little motive just seemed... I hate to say it, pathetic.  There could have been so much more going on with there relationship to warrent such anger from mean girl stereotype.  With a story about a girl with no emotions, it would have to be heavily reliant on the reactions and emotions of the secondary characters.  With Some Quiet Place, none of the secondary characters managed to come even close to making up for what Elizabeth was lacking.

The character issues are doubly important as this is a mostly character driven book.  There is the issue of her visions and dreams, but what moves Elizabeth along her path is the secondary characters, not the events themselves.  The external conflict also didn't feel as fleshed out as it could have, with the ending reveal not being a grand display of fireworks for my brain but rather a fire that burned bright for a minute and fizzled unexpectedly to a simmer till the end.  Nevertheless, it was the intrigue of both the external conflict and the internal conflict that keeps this book readable, though I have to add that Some Quiet Place did struggle to hold my interest at times.

While I did not entirely enjoy Some Quiet Place, I do see room for growth in the author and a potential for great new ideas.  This story did have many interesting concepts, but it seemed that the author was not quite ready to write such a story.  The writing was choppy at points, could have used some more varied and complicated sentences, but wasn't entirely bad.  The dialogue was convincing and the pacing was even, two very important elements in a novel.  Even though Some Quiet Place suffers from shallow characters, it does have an intriguing plot and great ideas.  I am not turned off to this author completely, and do look forward to seeing more great ideas that will be played out better.

Final Thought: 2 out of 5 toadstools

This review is also posted on GoodReads

1 comment:

  1. Sorry to hear it didn't meet your expectations. Oh, I just saw you're reading The Girl in the Clockwork Collar! I'm going to have to keep my eye out for your review on that one :)