Thursday, May 23, 2013

Louder Than Words by Laurie Plissner

Since the snowy night when her family's car slammed into a tree, killing her parents and little sister, Sasha has been unable to speak except through a computer with a robotic voice. Nothing is wrong with her body; that's healed. But, after four years, Sasha's memory, and her spirit, are still broken. Then one day, she's silently cussing out the heavy book she dropped at the library when a gorgeous, dark-haired boy, the kind of boy who considers Sasha a freak or at least invisible, "answers" Sasha's hidden thoughts -- out loud. Yes, Ben can read minds; it's no big deal. He's part of a family with a host of unusual, almost-but-not-quite-supernatural talents. Through Ben's love, Sasha makes greater progress than she has with a host of therapists and a prominent psychiatrist. With him to defend her, bullies keep the world from ever understanding Sasha, he pulls away. Determined to win him and prove her courage by facing her past, Sasha confronts her past -- only to learn that her family's death was no accident and that a similar fate may wait for her, in the unlikeliest of disguises.

An okay story. The premise is very intriguing, but the execution wasn’t my favorite. I was pulled out of the story many times due to inconsistencies and things I just didn’t believe.

I wasn’t all that fond of Sasha, and I couldn’t connect to her because I thought her characterization was inconsistent. She starts off telling us what happened to her family and what she remembers when she woke up in the hospital, and then all of a sudden she’s telling one of her classmates ‘f-you’ in the middle of class. Apparently, this is a common occurrence because the detention teacher knows her well, as do the other students who are regulars. This threw me. I get that people can change drastically when they’ve lost their entire family to tragedy and then been teased for four years. But we need to see that change, or else it’s too jolting.

BTW, even though the opening to this story breaks some rules, it totally works in this case. I hear editors say all the time not to start a story with a character waking up or with a flashback, but we get a flashback of Sasha ‘waking up’ in the hospital. And it works. We get her backstory in an interesting way, and I developed something of a relationship with her. But then she turned into someone else entirely when we see her in school, so I was really bummed about that.

I’m glad that Sasha has a good, loyal friend (Jules), and that there aren’t any mean, catty girls in the story. Jules is even head cheerleader, so it was a refreshing change of pace. I wish her character had been more consistent, though. She starts off as an upbeat supporter, but then sort of morphs into something else. And then she shocks Sasha by saying swear words, even though Sasha will say the f-word in class. So I didn’t really get their relationship.

Ben was okay, though too good to be true. He’s a bit over the top with opening doors, coming to Sasha’s rescue all the time, likes old music stuff, plus he’s a sexual genius. He’s also a fourth degree black belt—BTW, I didn’t buy that part at all. It’s not that it’s impossible to become a fourth degree black belt at such a young age, but it’s *highly* unlikely. If one has gotten so far so young, then there’s no way he would be so easily disarmed by an untrained jock. And he certainly wouldn’t be rendered helpless by the loss of his nunchucks. A first degree black belt can see a punch coming long before it gets there and will get out of the way, let alone a fourth degree black belt.

The sex and lust between Sasha and Ben was over the top. I don’t mind love scenes, but Sasha was a walking porn site (another thing Ben comments on). I also didn’t buy all the profanity. It felt gratuitous to me. If I understood the characters better, then this might have felt more natural.

The whole thing with Dr. O was a bit much. Ben called the situation a bad TV movie of the week, and I have to agree. Sometimes it works when a character acknowledges something fishy, but most times it doesn’t. It didn’t in this case. And I was really disappointed with the enormous bow at the end, tying things up too neatly. Not my cup of tea.


Jessie Harrell said...

I hadn't heard of this one, but I won't be picking it up now either. Thanks for the honest review.

Ruth Schiffmann said...

I haven't heard of this one, but by the blurb, I see why you picked it up. It does sound intriguing. But judging by your review, not something I'll waste my time on. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.