Thursday, October 11, 2012

Review: The Unquiet

The Unquiet
by Jeannine Garsee (Website | Blog | Twitter)
Series: Standalone
Published: July 7th, 2012 by Bloomsbury
Pages: 388 (Hardcover)
Genre: Contemporary & light paranormal
Goodreads | Amazon | Indie
Sixteen-year-old Rinn Jacobs has secrets: One, she’s bipolar. Two, she killed her grandmother.

After a suicide attempt, and now her parents' separation, Rinn and her mom move from California to the rural Ohio town where her mother grew up. Back on her medications and hoping to stay well, Rinn settles into her new home, undaunted by the fact that the previous owner hanged herself in Rinn's bedroom. At school, her classmates believe the school pool is haunted by Annaliese, a girl who drowned there. But when a reckless séance goes awry, and terrible things start happening to her new friends—yet not to her—Rinn is determined to find out why she can’t be "touched" by Annaliese...or if Annaliese even exists.

With the help of Nate Brenner, the hunky “farmer boy” she’s rapidly falling for, Rinn devises a dangerous plan to uncover the truth. Soon reality and fantasy meld into one, till Rinn finds it nearly impossible to tell the difference. When a malevolent force threatens the lives of everyone she cares about--not to mention her own--she can't help wondering: who should she really be afraid of?

Annaliese? Or herself?

The premise of The Unquiet appealed to me instantly: a bipolar teen with a troubling past, now questioning reality? Yes please. I thought a novel centered on a mental disorder and ghosts would make a great story, but I was disappointed with the delivery. I love ghost stories. I love all the things a good ghost story brings and all the things that, sadly, The Unquiet did not. At almost 400 pages, the haunting elements of this book were lost in the process of questionable character development and an excessive focus on relationships. That being said, and even though the ghost story was weak, the unnerving atmosphere undeniably saves the novel.

The trite characters pushed this book over the edge - the new girl who instantly becomes popular for whatever reason, the sexy boy next door who just gets her, the misunderstood loner, the school punching bag, the mean bitchy chick everyone just accepts despite the asshole she has for a personality... it goes on. I had a lot of faith in Rinn at the start of the book, but she quickly lost her individuality and spirit. With everything she's been through, you would think she'd understand being the kid everything shies away from in the halls, that she knows how much life can suck. But after spending a few days with the popular crowd, their acceptance now means more than being a decent human being.

As for the other characters, the only one that I wanted to know more about was Dino because he at least appeared to have some layers; unfortunately we never got to see them. All the others fit their roles nicely, if not at times over the top, which is exactly why I couldn't stand them. Furthermore, I didn't understand the relationship between Rinn and Nate. Once they were dating the relationship developed at a reasonable pace, and the onset wasn't too insta-lovey, but I didn't like how it formed. It felt as though they made fun of each other, gave one another cyuute nicknames, and then were dating. While I didn't see a lot of depth or swoon, I do appreciate the lack of a love triangle and the fact that the characters waited a while to fall in love.

Garsee does do a good job of making her readers feel disoriented and confused. They will constantly question their understanding of the events and of Rinn’s sanity. Is there a ghost? Is Rinn imagining this? Could it be both? Garsee keeps the reader guessing by building up the suspense and adding to the creepy atmosphere of the novel. While the eeriness is created gradually, it is in fact the best part of the book. The ghost story was always somewhere in the background, since students constantly had to walk through the “haunted” tunnel, but it isn’t until the end of the book that we know for sure if Annaliese is real. Granted, as the novel went on, the scare factor intensified, and the final line of the book sent goose bumps up my arm. But for a book of this length, that last sentence just doesn't cut it.

Overall, the one dimensional characters, unconvincing romance, and watered down ghost story barely kept me going through the 350+ page novel. Were it not for the amazing buildup of creepiness and constant confusion, The Unquiet would lack anything enthralling. Perhaps I would have enjoyed this one more if it were shorter, because hopefully there would be less filler and more ghostly action. If you enjoy contemporary with hard issues and could care less about paranormal, definitely get a copy because the parts that focused on Rinn’s bipolar disorder were interesting.

Rating: 3/5 stars
I didn't like the characters and the ghost story wasn't great, but I gave The Unquiet 3 stars because Garsee is a great writer and created a wonderfully chilling atmosphere that I enjoyed a lot. And, the last 50 pages or so were great. I just wish the rest of the novel was as face paced, intense, and haunting as its ending. If you like contemporary, check it out from the library, but don't expect to get that scared.

Other Reviews:
   - Good Books and Good Wine
   - Blythe Harris
   - Hippies, Beauty, and Books, Oh My!
   - The Flyleaf Review

*Review originally written on August 18th and was published elsewhere*

No comments:

Post a Comment