Sunday, 18 November 2012

The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle (3/5)

The back says: If your home was the last safe place on earth, would you let a stranger in?

Katie is on the verge of her Rumspringa, the time in Amish life when teenagers are free to experience non-Amish culture before officially joining the church. But before Rumspringa arrives, Katie’s safe world starts to crumble. It begins with a fiery helicopter crash in the cornfields, followed by rumours of massive unrest and the disappearance of huge numbers of people all over the world. Something is out there... and it is making a killing.

Unsure why they haven’t yet been attacked, the Amish Elders make a decree: No one goes outside their community, and no one is allowed in. But when Katie finds a gravely injured young man lying just outside the boundary of their land, she can’t leave him to die. She refuses to submit to the Elders’ rule and secretly brings the stranger into her community – but what else is she bringing with him?

I say: I ordered this book because it was said to be scary and since I am intrigued by the Amish it seemed like a good thing to read for Halloween. Unfortunately, Amazon were being their usual annoying selves so it didn’t arrive until last week, but it doesn’t really matter since it wasn’t scary at all.

Not even a little.

I was hoping for the suspense to kick in, but it never really did. There were a lot of key elements that Bickle provided, but she didn’t really give enough information, or create enough of a mystery for me to want to focus on them. Like Herr Stoltz – the Hexmeister, who went around painting signs on things in order to keep evil out – we realise early on that he will be critical to the plot, but at the same time he doesn’t make enough of an impact when he pops up to pay attention to. The same goes for the stranger that Katie brings in and her “love life.”

It all felt a bit too contrived.

None of the characters were really believable, or even fully developed; this is Bickle’s first young adult novel and it felt like she had ticked off all the features the characters of successful YA novels have and made her own puppet show out of them.

It also felt like she had watched The Village one too many times.

Another thing that bothered me was the forced way Bickle tried to portray Amish life. Katie’s voice is not convincing as an Amish girl but reads more like someone who has read up about the Amish trying to write in the voice of an Amish girl. This was really unfortunate since the Amish angle was the one I was most looking forward to.

Having said all that, I give this a 3/5 because as far as YA novels go I guess it got the job done. It got more interesting towards the end when things actually started happening and I wasn’t able to figure out the mystery beforehand, and that was a nicely done.

So yeah, if you want a bit of fluff to while away a few hours, this should tide you over.
As I suspected, and just had confirmed at Bickle’s website, this is part one of a trilogy that I will not pay any more attention to.

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