Blurb (from Goodreads):
Imagine a modern spin on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein where a young couple’s undying love and the grief of a father pushed beyond sanity could spell the destruction of them all.
A string of suspicious deaths near a small Michigan town ends with a fall that claims the life of Emma Gentry's boyfriend, Daniel. Emma is broken, a hollow shell mechanically moving through her days. She and Daniel had been made for each other, complete only when they were together. Now she restlessly wanders the town in the late Fall gloom, haunting the cemetery and its white-marbled tombs, feeling Daniel everywhere, his spectre in the moonlight and the fog.
When she encounters newcomer Alex Franks, only son of a renowned widowed surgeon, she's intrigued despite herself. He's an enigma, melting into shadows, preferring to keep to himself. But he is as drawn to her as she is to him. He is strangely... familiar. From the way he knows how to open her locker when it sticks, to the nickname she shared only with Daniel, even his hazel eyes with brown flecks are just like Daniel's.
The closer they become, though, the more something inside her screams there's something very wrong with Alex Franks. And when Emma stumbles across a grotesque and terrifying menagerie of mangled but living animals within the walls of the Franks' estate, creatures she surely knows must have died from their injuries, she knows.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Angry Robot and Netgalley.)
Emma is heartbroken after the recent death of her boyfriend Daniel. In fact she still makes a point of hanging around the cemetery where they used to always meet while they were dating.
A new boy at school – Alex Franks, seems to be drawn to her though, and as they spend more time together, their relationship develops, and Emma begins to feel that she might love again.
At times though Alex is suspiciously like Daniel. He instantly knows how to open her sticky locker door, her cat likes him (and he likes nobody), and he even takes her to the cemetery where Emma and Daniel used to hang out.
Why is Alex so strangely like Daniel? How does he know things that only Daniel would know? And where does Emma and Alex’s relationship go from here?
This book was a little odd. In the beginning it was a little weird, and I was thinking ‘3 stars’, then the romance kicked in, and I was thinking ‘okay, 4 stars’, then the stuff about Daniel’s death was revealed, and I was thinking, ‘maybe 3.5 stars?’. Then I got to the ending and I’m just not sure! The ending was pretty good, in fact the ending was one of the better parts of the book, but it still lacked something for me.
This book was just so up and down for me. I found it mildly creepy at the start, and it got a little creepier really late on when Emma realised the similarities between Alex and Daniel, but it didn’t get really creepy until the 80% mark when Emma goes to Alex’s house for the first time, which was a long time to wait for the creepiness to kick in. Plus, this creepiness was almost a side-line to the real storyline which was a bit disappointing.
I also didn’t get Alex’s father’s reaction to Emma when he met her. Why Alex’s surgeon father would feel the need to injure a teenage girl who mentioned his son’s name is just beyond me, and just made the father look a bit psycho (maybe this was the intention?). But even so, his reaction to Emma was a little odd, and I didn’t really get it, how injuring her further was going to accomplish anything I don’t know.
What I disliked most about this book was the circumstances surrounding Daniel’s death. Very little is said about Daniel’s death other than some vague hints that he ‘fell’. When more details are revealed, the incident is still as clear as mud, which bothered me as that is one of the main storylines of the book! I was really intrigued as to what the hell happened to Daniel – it seemed like a pretty valid interest to be honest, but when the actual story came it was just so blah and badly explained it really annoyed me.
There also wasn’t much explanation of Alex’s ‘accident’ that led him to be unwell at around the time that Daniel died. This lack of detail was just really annoying! Even now I’ve finished the book I still don’t really know what was wrong with Alex! This does not make me happy.
I have to say that I didn’t fully appreciate how much of a weirdo Alex’s father was, and how strongly intertwined Alex and Daniel were. These slight twists at the end did surprise me, which redeemed the book slightly, but still I found that I wasn’t 100% happy with the ending, and still had unanswered questions buzzing around my brain.
Another little irritation is the blurb – why tell you that this is a retelling of Frankenstein? It’s not obvious from the book until you’re like ¾ of the way through; that is unless you’ve read the blurb! If you’ve read the blurb, you’re thinking – ‘well who is the monster? Hmm, could it be the new boyfriend who is strangely like the old boyfriend?’ Serious spoiler in the blurb if you ask me!
What I did like was the romance between Alex and Emma, even though there was a kind of instant attraction between them. I liked the little looks and touches between them before Alex admits his real feelings, although Alex’s initial hints that he likes her are a bit odd – he tells her that his heart doesn’t belong to him; it beats for someone else. Slightly weird way of telling someone you like them if you ask me! But the romance was definitely the highlight of the book for me, without the romance I’m not sure I’d have made it all the way through.
Overall; a strange retelling of Frankenstein. It didn’t quite do it for me, but was slightly redeemed by the romance aspect.
6.5 out of 10.