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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick (ARC)

Title: Hush, Hush
Author: Becca Fitpatrick
Reviewed Format: ARC
Release Date: October 13, 2009

Sixteen year old Nora Grey gets stuck with the most unlikely lab partner: an older, mysterious transfer student with a smoldering gaze and a penchant for the color black. His clothes reek of cigars, but that’s the least of Nora’s worries. A “get to know you” assignment turns into a cause for alarm when Patch, her partner, reveals he knows more details about Nora than she can handle. When her teacher refuses her plea to switch partners, Nora decides her fate is in her own hands and dealing with Patch becomes priority number one, but he doesn’t make it easy for her. Patch’s relaxed and flirtatious manner make her blush as often as she becomes frustrated. To make matters worse, Patch’s appearance coincides with Nora being harassed by an aggressive stalker wearing a ski mask who sometimes sits outside her window watching her sleep. The implications are ominous.

If this sounds at all identical to Twilight, let me correct you: it isn’t Twilight. It may be eerily similar, and the comparisons are going to be passed around like a bad cold, but Hush, Hush is in a league of its own. Vampires? Werewolves? Who cares. We’ve got angels.

Well-written angels.

I fell absolutely in love with this book. I couldn’t put it down. I want to re-read it and that doesn’t happen very often, if at all. The writing was very accessible, self-deprecating, and funny. Fitzpatrick nailed the dialogue between Nora and her best friend, Vee. I thought they were entertaining together. The color diet both frequently cheated (and kept tabs) on and considering themselves as “un-twins” were both extremely believable habits I could imagine teens having. In fact, participating in weird things together (and then, making sure we both stayed on track) is exactly the sort of thing I remember doing with my best friend in high school. In the realm of teenage friendship their interactions were natural; Vee reacted to Nora’s level-headedness as much as Nora feed off of Vee’s drama. They were incredibly likeable and the chemistry between the two made me to wish I could step into their world and meet them. As the protagonist, Nora was obviously fleshed out more as a three-dimensional character, but don’t count Vee out: her sharp tongue and eye for adventure and drama throw out an inordinate amount of ridiculous that’s just tempered enough with Nora’s incredulity and exasperation to reign her in from being too over the top.

I also winded up liking Patch a lot. Okay, I lie. I have a little crush on Patch. Fitzpatrick hit some kind of deep, psychological cord and unearthed a secret desire I must have for tall, dark, muscly, cocky, sexually aggressive and provocative men who are just short of communicating through sultry growls and grunts. Really though, I can’t spoil the end (I REALLY WANT TO), but let me tell you, I was surprised with how smitten I got by the last page. He’s a lot of things readers criticize Edward (from Twilight) of being: over-aggressive, manipulative, socially deviant (does not along well with others at school--does he even try?), murderous, and perhaps, a little threatening, but at least he doesn’t scold Nora for making him “do” anything. He’s quite happy with Nora going off to do whatever she wants. It’s only when she’s truly in danger that he’s insistent she listen to him and unlike Bella, Nora’s aware of the danger and so the trust is that between equals.

Patch is of a different breed: he’s patient, confident, and blunt. He makes no apologies or keeps any secrets about his feelings for Nora. It’s quite disarming, really, if a little forward and off-putting. He’s kind of like PéPé Le Pew in that regard, whittling away at Nora’s resolve, watching her squirm until she realizes her resistance is futile and skunk isn’t all that bad, not really. And, he smiles. Frequently.

He’s also mysterious, but only about his past which, he’s quite willing to tell Nora about or, as it turns out, have her discover on her own. There is no anger, only a little surprise and calm defeat when she calls his bluff (although to be fair, is it really bluffing if his was a lie by omission?). And when he does get angry (ladies, have any of you watched “Roswell”? That US television show that aired on the WB about 10 years ago in which the main romantic couple had surprising results when they began getting intimate with one another? There’s something reminiscent of that here, but, trust me, it’s far more relevant and less gratuitous--more intimate with the nature of who Patch really is and, quite touching, really) it’s not because he thinks she’ll be frightened or disgusted, it’s because he doesn’t want her to jump to conclusions; Patch wants to explain things to her when he feels she’s ready, when she’s calm, when her intelligence can precede her fear-based assumptions. Even though he does get angry, he controls himself (never blaming her) and manages to stay quite collected as long as it takes for him to clear the air.

Nora’s quite competent and doesn’t flail or whine in fear. When she’s scared she stands up for herself and (however dangerous it would translate into a real life situation) even tries to protect herself by attacking her attackers, confident in her attempts to defend herself rather than submit willfully. But she’s also vulnerable as her unsuccessful self-defense tactics and anemia diagnosis prove.

Of course, not all characters can be as fascinating or well-rounded as Patch and Nora (albeit to be fair, they are the leading pair). Marcie Millar for instance, Nora and Vee’s social nemesis, is a joke. She’s a caricature of the mean-spirited and attractive popular girl (strawberry blonde hair, cheerleader--why are they always blonde cheerleaders?) who might as well be twirling a mustache instead of twirling her hair as she mentally cackles at her lame insults and comebacks. Fitzpatrick could not have tried harder to make sure we knew we weren’t supposed to like Marcie. That doesn’t bother me too much since I think the rest of the book and the other characters more than made up for Marcie’s lack of depth.

There were a couple of things I didn’t understand with the details in the rules (and subsequent execution) of Fitzpatrick’s world of angels, but without spoiling anyone, I can’t go into exactly what those are. Suffice to say, I might have to re-read Hush, Hush to find out. But it’s worth the second read. Hush, Hush is a story of romance (real romance--not just the physical desires of the lusty teenage years, but again, I can’t go into details without spoiling the book) and revenge. It has the right amount of horror and mystery to keep everything else in suspense. While Patch and Nora’s romance is a little rushed, given that Nora oscillates in her confusion between being attracted to Patch’s persistent, swaggerish-demeanor and being frightened of the implications of finding him appearing almost everywhere she goes, I liked it. The pacing is great--you blink at how easy it is to lose sense of time as the pages are turned--and the plot is wrapped up neatly with a surprise reveal I never would have guessed on my own. At times, it’s a bit predictable, but the writing more than makes up for that. And Fitzpatrick left just enough room open for a sequel. By the time you reach the end of this book, you’ll be wanting a sequel. And there is one, don’t worry. I asked the author.

Since I’m reviewing an ARC--courtesy of Simon & Schuster UK--I’m HIGHLY recommending this as a pre-order. I’ve already recommended it to three of my friends and am going to be talking it up for a while. It’s very difficult to talk about it without revealing spoilers, but I enjoyed Hush, Hush a lot. I won’t bore you with anymore synonyms for sexy in regards to Patch anymore; I’ll even stop turning this into a Patch-fest. Having just finished the book, I’m on a little post-read high that only really good reads produce. But it was worth it.


Anonymous said...

That cover is pretty much amazing.

Erika said...

Much better in person!

Becca Fitzpatrick said...

Hey, Erika! Thanks for the fantastic review - so glad you liked the book! And so glad to finally know that, yes, Jawas really do read!

Erika said...

Oh no, thank *you*, Becca! It was my pleasure. The book's getting a lot of anticipation on LiveJournal. I think the release will definitely be big. :)

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