Published by Clarion Books on October 6th 2015
The strange war down south—with its rumors of gods and monsters—is over. And while sixteen-year-old Hallie and her sister wait to see who will return from the distant battlefield, they struggle to maintain their family farm.
When Hallie hires a veteran to help them, the war comes home in ways no one could have imagined, and soon Hallie is taking dangerous risks—and keeping desperate secrets. But even as she slowly learns more about the war and the men who fought it, ugly truths about Hallie’s own family are emerging. And while monsters and armies are converging on the small farm, the greatest threat to her home may be Hallie herself.
Wouldn’t it be just a bit funny if I left only the gif and hit “publish”? Funny, annoying, whichever. It’s a fine line. Anyway. As you can probably surmise, this didn’t exactly turn out the way I’d hoped.
First, a brief look at what we’re getting into. Please note the lack of information that I have for you on this most basic of summaries:
Hallie and her sister live on a farm… somewhere. Their dad died and now they run this big farm. Her sister, Marthe, is pregnant, and her husband is off in a war that just ended. A veteran named Heron comes along and Hallie lets him stay to help since they are kind of not doing great on their own with the farm. But he brings secrets with him, and then a “Twisted Thing” (which the war was fighting against) lands on the property and everyone kind of loses their mind. These “things” (no, seriously, I am not lacking eloquence, that is what they are called!) apparently burn everything they touch, and so the “things'” bodies have to be burned because… reasons. But they have help from the closest farm, and this includes Hallie’s friend Nat and her brother Tyler, also home from the war and injured. There are more people in this family, but they bored me and I couldn’t keep their names straight, so we’ll forget about them. Enter the nearby town, whose mayor wants to get Hallie and Marthe off the farm (again, for reasons?) and therefore refuses assistance when more “things” turn up.
So. Are you confused? Me too.
Let’s talk about a few things I did like, because it’s always nice to do that.
- The atmosphere was definitely on point. This was supposed to feel dismal and eerie, and it was done well. I definitely felt a melancholia settled right over the farm, and really, the whole town.
- I was rooting for Hallie and her sister. I wanted them to make it, to keep their farm, and to survive whatever the “Twisted Things” were. I also really wanted them to become closer as sisters and friends.
- Hallie’s friend Nat was enjoyable. She had a charm and sarcastic wit about her that made me like her. There wasn’t enough Nat, I’d have loved even more of her!
So, the problems. They mostly fall in the “this doesn’t make sense” category, but I will go into detail.
- When was this taking place? Literally, no idea. I’m going to guess that it was post-apocalyptic because there was one reference about old skyscrapers, and another that might have been a reference to a car, but I am not even sure. So… I am not exactly betting money on the time frame.
- Where was this taking place? Yeah, a farm. But a farm where? America? Earth? No idea. Now, again, I am going to guess somewhere in the United States, because someone talked about Toledo, and someone else talked about Monticello, which are both smaller American cities. But again, pure conjecture. Heron kept talking about going “north” or “south” as though they’d mean something to the reader (and also as though there wasn’t an east or west, so there’s that), but since we could be absolutely anywhere, I had no idea.
- What were the “Twisted Things”? Again, your guess is as good as mine. Some were bird-like. Some were not. So that encompasses all the things. And where did they come from? And why did they have a “god”? And who was it? And when did this start? I could probably go on for days, but I won’t. Why bother?
- How and/or why was this taking place? You’d think some kind of big event would lead to the current state of crap falling from the sky and attacking. I’d probably be curious, personally, if the sky opened up and started shooting birds that burn off my face at me.
- The ship was “meh”. I had hoped the ship would go a certain way, but it really, really did not. And the ship that did take place had very little chemistry to me. I was bored with it, and had really hoped things in the romance arena would pick up. They did not.
- Hallie was really, really pessimistic. Look, so am I, so I get it. But this was almost too much, especially when it came to her relationship with Marthe. It seemed like Hallie was just making all these assumptions about Marthe’s intentions without ever bothering to find out what Marthe thought. Don’t get me wrong, Marthe was no ray of sunshine either, but trying to actually communicate might have made things tolerable. Hallie seemed to make more problems for herself than there needed to be, on many occasions, concerning many things. There were a lot of decisions she made that were just flat out not smart. And there wasn’t any reasoning behind it that could make me understand the decisions.
- Things started off incredibly slow. In fact, I considered DNFing because I really didn’t understand the point, plus I was bored. But then things did pick up a bit. I had hope at that point that things would all fall into place, so I kept going.
- I still have no idea about any of the things above. Seriously, not a clue. I kept holding out hope that I’d get answers to all the background stuff that had me scratching my head, but alas, I still have absolutely no idea where, when, how, or why anything happened. I’m not saying that the story didn’t have a decent conclusion, I am just saying that the things I’d hoped to find answers to, I did not.
Bottom Line: It is with regret that I must admit to not enjoying this one. Maybe it’s me, maybe I am missing something, but I had a lot of questions, and close to zero answers.