Thursday, August 27, 2009

Review: IMMORTAL by Gillian Shields

by Gillian Shields
published August 4th 2009 by HarperTeen
Hardcover, 368 pages

Placement in the Pile: Middle of the Stack inching towards Reaching New Heights

Wyldcliffe Abbey School for Young Ladies, housed in a Gothic mansion on the bleak northern moors, is elite, expensive, and unwelcoming. When Evie Johnson is torn away from her home by the sea to become the newest scholarship student, she is more isolated than she could have dreamed. Strict teachers, snobbish students, and the oppressive atmosphere of Wyldcliffe leave Evie drowning in loneliness.

Evie's only lifeline is Sebastian, a rebellious, mocking, dangerously attractive young man she meets by chance. As Evie's feelings for Sebastian grow with each secret meeting, she starts to fear that he is hiding something about his past. And she is haunted by glimpses of a strange, ghostly girl—a girl who is so eerily like Evie, she could be a sister. Evie is slowly drawn into a tangled web of past and present that she cannot control. And as the extraordinary, elemental forces of Wyldcliffe rise up like the mighty sea, Evie is faced with an astounding truth about Sebastian, and her own incredible fate.

Gillian Shields's electrifying tale will dazzle readers with suspense, mysticism, and romance.

There were many things about it that I liked, and many things that I thought of that I wasn't so fond of. Writing a brief review and giving it a rating were thus extremely difficult.

As mentioned I have been going through a lot in my personal life and have not has much time to read. What I have picked up to read, just wasn't right for me at the time, even if they were well done novels. When I received this from HarperTeen I was anxious for an escape, a romance something vastly unique and exciting. The cover is gorgeous, the description intriguing, the setting on the northern English moors the place of my dreams... What I received was a great story that kept my interest and kept me occupied, but ended up falling a little short of my expectations.

Immortal is a well written story, although the voice of the novel is different from most YA books I have read. I often found myself thinking that the journal entries from the past were much more realistic than the presented modern thoughts and language of the main heroine. I mean really, would a teenager say "Are you ill?". Nope! They would say "You look awful." or "Are you sick?" Little things like this made it hard for me when Shield's would write about taxi's and jeans and cars. The world she sets up is not modern at all, and yet she uses that as her time and space.

I also found myself thinking that the romance between the characters happens very suddenly. One night they meet, the next time they see each other they are in love. I like their love story, and I am rooting for them, but it was hard to let go of that.

Lastly, I unfortunately have to agree with many of the critics of this novel and say that it is VERY much like A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY by Libba Bray. Now, the setting is modern (but it doesn't feel like it) and we get more info in this first book than in Bray's novel. I also saw elements of almost a Twilight-ish love story (I mean if the title Immortal doesn't tell you that someone in the book is immortal, then let me spoil it for you...someone is immortal...ish), and a connection to great Gothic classics like Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre.

But it was so reminiscent my final judgement on the book was: If you liked A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY and want to give a similar story a try, go for it. Expect a book that you will most likely enjoy for the most part, that you will want to find out more for the next novel (which Shields reports is being written right now and is coming out in 2010) but don't expect to want to place it up on the top shelf with your other all-time favorite paranormal romances.


Sara said...

Interesting review. I always find it interesting how some books are so similar to others - I've read a few books that you sit and think, "Well that author must have loved ____" because this book is almost exactly the same! (and sometimes not as well done). I haven't read this one yet, but I might have to give it a try if I get a lull in my book pile.