Thursday, April 08, 2010

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Plot Summary: For Nora Grey, romance was not part of the plan. She's never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how much her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch came along. With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Nora is drawn to him against her better judgment. But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora's not sure who to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is, and to know more about her than her closest friends. She can't decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel. For Nora is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen - and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost her life.

I find fallen angel stories intriguing. There's so much that can be done with a premise like that, and I've read a few that I loved.  Unfortunately, Hush, Hush wasn't one of them.

It's really a shame, too, because it started out so well. Nora has a strong voice, and seems like a strong character right off the bat. Her initial reaction to Patch is spot on, and I wanted to keep reading to see how the interaction between them would progress...but that progression was a huge disappointment.

Patch starts out as horribly rude and creepy, and Nora is afraid of him. As the story moves along, Patch's behavior doesn't change, but Nora's perception does - she finds herself attracted to him, even though she knows there's something off about him, that he's hiding things, and he still scares her. That irritated me to no end. It sends a subtle message to teen girls that even if a hot guy is rude or scary, it's okay to pursue him because things will work out fine. That's a recipe for disaster, and enables impressionable teens to get caught up in abusive, unhealthy relationships.

*deep breath* Moving on...

There were a few other aspects of the plot that confused me. The biggest one being the chain of events leading to Patch's goal. It was never explained exactly how Nora would help Patch attain his goal. It was only briefly mentioned, and, as far as I can remember, never fully explained to Nora (though she miraculously knew all the details at the end). It also brings up questions about her father's death, and I have a good guess as to who killed him (which, I believe, will come up in the next book). But to ignore such a big detail makes much of this story feel contrived. I honestly believe it would have been stronger if the reader had not been kept in the dark.

Finally, I was disappointed in the story's assumption that just because an angel has fallen, that means he must be wholly bad. The world isn't so black and white - people make mistakes, but that doesn't make them bad. It makes them flawed. Assuming that a fallen angel is evil is what made Patch so unlikeable and unredeemable. Merely making him flawed would have endeared him to us, made him understandable and relatable.

I honestly can’t tell if the unhealthy relationship aspect of the story colored my views of everything else. That’s a big issue for me, so it’s entirely possible. But this was not a book I enjoyed, nor is it one I’d want to give to my teenage girls (if I had any).


Marcia said...

Patch starts out as horribly rude and creepy, and Nora is afraid of him. As the story moves along, Patch's behavior doesn't change, but Nora's perception does - she finds herself attracted to him, even though she *knows* there's something off about him.

Totally agree that this is creepy and sends a disturbing message to teen readers.

But I like the idea that Patch is evil. Christian doctrine doesn't indicate that fallen angels are redeemable. Fallen people, yes. But for whatever reason, when angels fall they don't get another chance. Which makes me think: If the author is going on this premise now, then Patch must end the series (it's a series?) as still fallen. If he doesn't, I'd see that as inconsistent. This is, of course, a huge challenge in making a fallen angel such an important character in a story. Villains are more relatable if they have good qualities. If she'd play up qualities that can be positive, negative or neutral, such as intelligence, humor, etc., I'd guess that might be the way to go.

Good post! :)

Sherrie Petersen said...

I have never hated a book as much as I hated this one. I kept reading because it was well written and I kept hoping that somehow I would end up liking the story. But I didn't. I HATED that the MC didn't stay true to her instincts, that she placed herself in dangerous situations because she was attracted to Patch, and that she was actually turned on by this guy who she wasn't sure if he would kiss her or kill her. Horrible book. I was SO disappointed.

bookaholic said...

Though I liked the book,I totally second your opinion!

Tabitha said...

Marcia - yes, I agree that there's nothing in doctrine that says fallen angels will ever be welcomed back into heaven. My issue is the assumption that this fallen angel has to automatically go to the other extreme and *behave* horribly, especially if the act that made him fall wasn't motivated by evil. Honestly, though, my reaction to this aspect of the story is coming from other fallen angel books I've read, and how they've all taken this slant even if it doesn't completely fit the story. :) Seeing it in this story, too, was one story too many. :)

Sherrie - I had a very similar reaction. The writing is great, and Nora was so likeable in the beginning. But I couldn't stand her by the end because I felt like she'd sold herself out for no good reason. And it *really* bothered me what impressionable teen girls might take from it...scary.

Bookaholic - I started out liking this book, but ended up having major issues. I have to be honest that the biggest issue was Nora and Patch's unhealthy relationship. If that had been better, I would have been able to overlook much of the other flaws. But unhealthy relationships always get a knee-jerk reaction out of me. :)

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I wasn't sure about the book when I started, and I agree with much of what's being said. However, I did end up really enjoying it overall.

C. K. Kelly Martin said...

I was really bothered by the constant disrespect (downright hostility, really) that Patch shows towards Nora, to the point that she's often afraid of him. There's nothing romantic about that and yet so many teenage girls who've read this book seem to find Patch a romantic figure. That's extremely troubling to me.

Tabitha said...

Shannon - I'm glad you enjoyed it. It is an interesting idea, I just wasn't fond of the execution.

CK - *exactly*. That drives me crazy, and will get me on a soapbox faster than the speed of light. I was a naive teenager, and books like these put rose-colored glasses on my face...and I suffered as a result. So, now that I'm a bit wiser, they really irk me because I don't want to see other girls go through what I went through.