Shallow Pond by Alissa Grosso Review

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Title: Shallow Pond
Author: Alissa Grosso (Twitter)
Publisher: Flux
Publish Date: July 8, 2013
Genre: YA, Sci-Fi
Pages: 336
Source: Author

Barbara “Babie” Bunting is constantly mistaken for her sisters, but she’s determined not to end up like her family. She doesn’t plan to stick around Shallow Pond after graduation, and she certainly won’t be ruined by a broken heart. That is, until fellow orphan Zach Faraday walks into the picture, and Babie can’t deny their chemistry.

When her oldest sister, Annie, comes down with a mysterious illness—initially dismissed as “love sickness”—Babie and Zach start investigating what exactly killed the girls’ mother and why their late father became so consumed by grief. What they find changes everything.
Barbara is the baby of the family. An orphan with two older sisters raising her, she's certain of only one thing: her life is messy...and weird. Shallow Pond is a tiny town - too tiny for Barbara's dreams - and she's counting the days until she can go to college and escape her past and the town's nothingness altogether. But there's something that's holding Barbara and her family in Shallow Pond. There is something darker and more unknown about her very own destiny, and she'll have to uncover that before she can ever truly find herself and escape Shallow Pond forever.

There's something to be said for reading books with little, to no hype at all. I love being able to go into a book entirely blind, formulating my own opinions from the get-go and never having those other reviews fighting for their views to come to the forefront of my mind. Shallow Pond offers readers an intriguing, mysterious and engaging premise. From veteran author, Alissa Grosso, we're given a story of sisters who, outwardly look similar, but they couldn't be more different underneath it all. Fast-paced and well-plotted, Shallow Pond is a guessing-game from start to finish, never revealing the truth until readers are absolutely ready for the big reveal.

I read Shallow Pond in one day. Actually, I read it in about six hours total. It's an engrossing tale that winds you into the mystery from page one. There was a lot that I loved about this book, but I definitely had a few issues with it, as well, though some of them might by petty preferences. Barbara was a tricky character for me. She was so carefully guarded that it made it difficult to get a firm grasp on who she was as person. Plus, her identity was so wrapped up in those of her sisters, Annie and Gracie, that we're never exactly sure who she is and, instead, define her by her desire to escape Shallow Pond for good. When Zach Faraday enters the picture, we watch as Barbara's shell slowly cracks around her, but she keeps replacing it again, and again, and again, though I'm sure she didn't even really know what she wanted. There were times when we got to see this vulnerable girl succumb to the desire to be around Zach, though we're not sure where the desire stems from. Other times, however, she pushes him away almost violently, and we can't help but get annoyed by the constant flip-flopping. It was almost like whiplash over and over. Her sisters are clearly defined with Gracie being the boy-crazy middle child and Annie being the soft-spoken eldest daughter - though the latter remained somewhat of an enigma throughout. We're also offered a handful of secondary characters including her best friends but, at times, they felt more like filler characters, simply adding elements to the pages. Plus, there was a constant sort of derision between Barbara and her friends, which eventually just felt too much like the age-old teenage drama that I wanted to so badly to escape. In terms of highlights, however, the author does a fantastic job with the mystery element and subsequent reveal. I'll be honest and say that of all the scenarios in my mind, that was never even an afterthought. Plus, the foreshadowing is carefully balanced, so we never know too much too soon. Now, if I might be petty, I did have an issue with some of the action verbs of the novel. In normal conversations, despite the frantic and frenzied nature, I would not use "screamed," "shrieked" or "shouted" throughout. I think they pulled me out of the moment and displaced me a bit, which was unfortunate. Furthermore, I think that the final chapters of the novel could have been drawn out further, giving us more backstory and more of an understanding as to why, exactly, their lives had been molded as such.

All in all though, Shallow Pond is a quick, fast and engaging read. The writing style is easy to follow, and the mystery element is extremely well done. I give it a 3 out of 5, and I definitely recommend this story to fans of YA looking for a fast-paced, mystery and sci-fi story. 

I received this book free of charge from the author in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

16 comments:

  1. I'm not really feeling the story, it feels like either Babie is closed up or very back forth with her emotions. I really can't grasp who she is. I don't think this book is for me, though I'm glad that you enjoyed it. Lovely review, Melissa!
    Plus, I just noticed the three faces on the cover and it is freaking me out! O.O

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    1. Thanks, Aman! It's a good, solid story...I just wanted more, you know? I swear I'm the pickiest reviewer ever.

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  2. I love books that you can just read in one seating, after all, I don't get much time a day to read and it's probably only 3 hours and I have to try and finish one book. It's rather crazy, lol. I have not seen this on Evernote but the cover is kinda creeping me out- in a good way.

    Great review!

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    1. It's worth a read, Melanie! Most reviews on GR are averaging around 4, so I think you should go for it! :D

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  3. Using "said" in place of any other synonym is usually the best choice in book dialogue. All those exclaimed and shouted and such just get in the way of what the characters and usually pull me out of the moment, too. Sounds like an interesting mystery!

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    1. Yeah. It was a case where going the normal route would have worked far better for me. Those verbs just made me think it was far less believable.

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  4. I definitely haven't heard much about this book and I have to say it sounds intriguing. I love books with an air of mystery to them, so I know I'll like this one. The characters also sound very interesting. It's a shame about the writing though. The use "screamed", "shrieked" etc ... would frustrate me a little too.
    Despite that, you seem to have really enjoyed this one, Melissa!
    Lovely review! :)

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    1. I'd be interested to see what you think about it, Nick. I hope you read it! :)

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  5. I really do love launching into a book without hype to mar my expectations. I'm glad this one was such an engrossing read, though it is a bummer about the slight flaws. Still, I'm curious enough to give this a shot. Lovely review, Melissa! I love that I can always visit your blog and find new titles - it's the best!(:

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    1. Thanks, Keertana! The little flaws are aggravating, but it's still a good book, for sure ;)

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  6. Hahaha love the longer review Melissa! The one I posted today was one of my longer ones too. I guess we're getting chattier the more we blog ;-)

    I can't say whether or not I would have noticed the action verb issue (honestly, I couldn't have even told you those were action verbs), but I know there have been really small things I've noticed in certain stories that have for some reason or another irritated me. Probably no one else would be bothered, but I was, so I completely understand your reaction. I don't think I'm going to put this on my "must read" list, but as usual, your review was amazing!

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    1. Aw thanks, doll! Like I said, it's a totally petty thing, but I think it just yanked me out of the moment. I think that a simple "said" would have sufficed lol

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  7. Yum! The premise sounds like something I would be all over :) Going to add this one to the TBR pile. Thanks for reviewing. I hadn't heard about it at all.

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    1. I hope you read it, Romily! The author has a knack for mystery! :)

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  8. Verbs are such a tricky thing. I know what you're saying by using words like "screamed" throughout, but then it's also annoying if not enough variety of words are used. I find the same thing with speech tags, like "said" v. "exclaimed."

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  9. I love when a book is so engaging it keeps you reading for hours. I tend not to read books without hype (so bad, I know) so I miss out on a lot of great titles like this. Barbara sounds like a very frustrating character with her being so wishy-washy.

    Thanks for bringing this one to my attention, Melissa.

    Alise @ Readers in Wonderland

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