Title: Shattered Souls (Souls #1)
Author: Mary Lindsey
On the Shelves: Young Adult> Paranormal>Romance
A thrilling debut story of death, love, destiny, and danger
Lenzi hears voices and has visions – gravestones, floods, a boy with steel gray eyes. Her boyfriend, Zak, can’t help, and everything keeps getting louder and more intense. Then Lenzi meets Alden, the boy from her dreams, who reveals that she’s a reincarnated Speaker – someone who can talk to and help lost souls – and that he has been her Protector for centuries.
Now Lenzi must choose between her life with Zak and the life she is destined to lead with Alden. But time is running out: a malevolent spirit is out to destroy Lenzi, and he will kill her if she doesn’t make a decision soon (Goodreads 2014)
I originally gave this story 4 stars when I read it in 2012, so I decided to re-read it with the new sequel/companion novel “Fragile Spirits” coming out in January 2014. When I originally read it, I was swept away by it and loved every minute of it. This time around, however, with having read a LOT more Young Adult fiction, I have started to actually think quite critically of topics which come up in YA lit- which is fine…but it did make this rating drop to three stars. I’ll explain this as I review it.
When I first read this book in 2012, I hadn’t read that much YA paranormal/romance (weird that this genre is so popular, when you think about it), and I hadn’t also started really to think critically about what I was reading. So without examining it too closely, I enjoyed it. I really did. I gave it 4 stars originally. This time however, despite still enjoying it (and I really did find it readable, I’ve certainly read a lot worse in YA), I couldn’t escape from a few things that really made me uncomfortable…
So as the synopsis discusses, the story follows a girl named Lenzi, who basically can communicate with the dead and her purpose is to try and help them to move on, with the help of her “protector” ‘Alden’. One thing that made this review lose a star was a combination of Zak and the “insta-love” Both times I read the book, I felt that Zak was a useless and unnecessary plot point. He spends most of his time in the book, jealous and angry for no real reason…and drunk. You could probably join him in a drinking game for the amount of times he says “Babe” at the end of every sentence. To be honest, the story could’ve been written with him edited out and nothing would’ve been taken away from the book, it was just unnecessary drama. I’ll never understand how we are meant to believe Lenzi was with Zak in the first place because he seems like a pretty shitty person to begin with, who treats his girlfriend like crap and you know…abandons her in a cemetery on her birthday, because he is ~*~jealous~*~ instantly. I know “insta-love” is a thing in YA but is “insta-jealously”? The relationship between Lenzi and Zak is borderline abusive, in my opinion and it’s worrying that Lenzi kept going back to him and justifying his behaviour. Ugh. Because of this, the rating loses one whole star.
The other thing that made it lose half a star, was either Lenzi. Lenzi is human and has flaws and isn’t perfect …but she sure did spent a lot of the book acting constantly surprised and “gasping” or “near gasping”… surely after you’ve been through the routine once, it should no longer be a massive shock every time it happens. But yeah, Lenzi was annoyingly whiny a lot of the book, constantly putting herself down and I’d probably not want to know someone like her in real life. But maybe I’m just being too nitpicky? The reason this only makes it lose half a star is because, I can’t lie, I’m so used to YA females being portrayed like this, it’s becoming normalised and to be honest, I just half the time expect them to be this way. Ugh. I hate myself for this.
That being said, I really did enjoy this book the second time around- but only if I didn’t look at it too closely (and yes, this is me enjoying the book). The writing had parts where I burst out laughing…and not for any good reason. I’m sorry but when the “good guy” shows traits of Sadism as part of being attracted to someone, yeah that isn’t too healthy and could actually be considered to be a trait of a sociopath. When the “good guy” is telling you he is “turned on by your fear” …that is not a good sign, nor is it sexy or “hot”- it’s bloody disturbing and bordering on sociopathic tendencies. Now, this is excused SLIGHTLY by the fact it’s supposed to be part of this “other-worldly- spiritual-connection” thing Alden and Lenzi have going as the Protector/Speaker relationship. But honestly, it’s still pretty creepy even with that aspect. If that hadn’t been there to “excuse” it, I honestly wouldn’t have continued reading the book. Paranormal means you suspend disbelief…but there is only so much I can excuse. And I don’t want to make a habit of condoning violent or abusive relationships thanks, YA.
The world-building could’ve used a lot more depth but the back-story was okay…and the pacing of the book is a nice change too, it is quick but not too rushed. I’m going to read Fragile Spirits and see how Lindsey’s writing has improved since Shattered Souls. I hope it’s improved. I can’t shake my disappointment though. Two years ago I loved this book, now I’ve re-read it, I can’t believe I actually normalised a lot of the disturbing behaviour that occurred because of the pointless insta-love “triangle” just because it falls into “paranormal”- when what is dangerous about this behaviour is that it occurs every day in real relationships…and reading material like this runs the risk of people normalising it all the time. I did enjoy the book both times, but I have to look at these issues critically and I just can’t excuse them.
Sorry, Lindsey, I’ll read your sequel- but Cabot’s “The Mediator” did it infinitely better.