Monday, May 21, 2012

Review: Wrecked (Davies)

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AUTHOR: Anna Davies
SERIES: none
PUBLISHER: Simon & Schuster
PUBLICATION DATE: May 1, 2012
ISBN: 9781442432789
PAGES: 321
SOURCE: SLJ review copy
GENRE: fantasy romance (sea witch, mermaids, mermen, "betwixtmen")
GIVE IT TO: no one--Lies Beneath and Vicious Deep are better choices.
SUMMARY: Despite her parents' accidental deaths ten years ago, Miranda has made a decent life for herself on tiny Whym Island with her grandmother. She has friends, a great boyfriend, and will likely be headed to Stanford University to play soccer next year. But at a beach party one night, Miranda and her friends are in a terrible boating accident, and her best friend and boyfriend are among the dead. Somehow, Anna escapes serious injury and drowning, but her memory is fuzzy. She vaguely remembers a boy carrying her out of the water to safety, but how is that possible? And why would a boy be in the sea during a storm that fateful night?

WHAT I LIKED: With its beautiful and eerie island setting, Wrecked is easy enough to get into. I love the descriptions of Whym Island's sandy beaches, salty winds, crashing ocean waves, and evening storms. I love all the island superstitions about the sea witch, who turns out to be real. When the boating accident happens, readers can really feel Miranda's survivor guilt and her self-doubt about how the accident happened.

The sea-lore, the stories of Sephie, and the island superstitions really helped set the story's eerie tone. I love the premise of a "betwixtman" who illegally saves a human girl marked for death and who is given a week to "right his wrong" against the sea witch by killing the girl. I wish the sea lore and history of betwixtmen were better explored; it would have enriched an otherwise unremarkable story.

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: I struggled with the way Miranda's classmates and teachers treat her after the accident. I can see some kids being openly mean to her; it's high school, after all. But for her teachers, coach, guidance counselor, and principal to isolate her the way they do (one teacher even skips her when handing out tests!), is absolutely not realistic. There is no reason to suspect that Miranda's boating accident was anything but an accident. Miranda's pain is physically obvious--she loses weight, won't eat, has dark circles under her eyes and tangled hair. She's on crutches with a long, red scar twisting its way up her leg. It's clear this young girl is in serious emotional pain, yet no one bothers to be anything but hateful to her. The townspeople even isolate the grandmother and Teddy, who clearly have done nothing wrong. I just don't buy that so many people would be that horrible, even on a small, tight-knit island community.

Miranda's insta-romance with Christian lacks chemistry. I get that Christian is cute and saved her life, but really, shouldn't it bother Miranda that he seems to be homeless, wears the same cargo pants every day (no mention of a shirt), does not attend school or have a family, and doesn't appear to have a last name? Their conversations are stilted, consisting largely of Christian repeating Miranda's questions back to her. Miranda snuggles up to him and sleeps on his chest after they only met a few hours before. The next day, she kisses him out of the clear blue, even as her beloved boyfriend lies comatose in the hospital.

Finally, we come to the editing, which is so poor and sloppy that I found myself paying more attention to errors and inconsistencies than I did to the actual story. Errors in syntax include misplaced quotation marks and at least two instances of "different than" (a pet peeve of mine). When reading dialogue between two characters, I often had to reread passages because I couldn't figure out who was talking or when the speaker stopped talking (end punctuation sometimes missing entirely). In other passages, two paragraphs of dialogue could be from the same character, even though the first paragraph might be only one sentence. Overuse of phrases like "I'm fine" or "it's fine" or simply "Fine" made me roll my eyes every time I saw them, and I groaned every time a character ended a sentence with a question mark. And could we please, please stop shushing each other? As a librarian, I am opposed to shushing in any form, and several characters, especially Christian the Word Wizard, "shh" each other repeatedly.

Editors also missed lots of problems with plot details. For example, during one of her nighttime swims, Miranda is swimming in her bra and panties, but a couple of paragraphs later (in the same scene), she is wearing an old Speedo bathing suit. Christian twice notices the boat Sephie for the first time, and I don't know how Christian's eyesight is sharp enough to see a woman's platinum hairdo and the gilt-painted name on the side of her boat from a long distance. I expect errors when reading ARCs, but I read the publisher's hardcover. How many editors read this book before publication? Why did no one catch such glaring inconsistencies?

THE BOTTOM LINE: Seafarer's lore and Miranda's psychological turmoil in the story's first half are not enough to redeem the rushed romance, syntax errors, and plot inconsistencies of the second half. Not recommended at all.

STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: So not getting it (although if I still taught English, I might use it to demonstrate the importance of good editing).

READALIKES: Vicious Deep (Cordova); Lies Beneath, Of Poseidon (Banks)

RATING BREAKDOWN:
  • Overall: 1/5 (generous)
  • Creativity: 2/5--it has potential but never delivers
  • Characters: 1/5
  • Engrossing: 2/5
  • Writing: 1/5
  • Appeal to teens: 3/5
  • Appropriate length to tell the story: 5/5 (short, thank God)

CONTENT:
  • Language: medium; 3 fu** and 3 sh**, all totally unnecessary
  • Sexuality: mild; couples make out at a beach party (nothing described); some kissing
  • Violence: very mild; 4 dead and 3 injured in boat "wreck"
  • Drugs/Alcohol: mild; teens drink at a party; talk of past liquor cabinet raids

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