Hush, Hush

Hush, Hush

As this is likely to be my last review before Christmas, I thought I’d look at something relatively festive – angels. Well, fallen angels but it’s close enough.

Hush, Hush was first published in 2009 and was the debut novel of Becca Fitzpatrick. It is a paranormal romance story about a teenage girl who finds herself drawn to a mysterious and threatening new student in her class. The novel is the first of a series of four books and is followed by Crescendo (2010), Silence (2011) and Finale (2012), but for the purpose of today’s review I’ll be looking at the first book only.

Ever since her father was murdered, Nora Grey has had trouble letting other people into her life. Although she hangs around a lot with her bubbly best friend, Vee, she had no interest in finding romance. This is until her biology teacher devises a brand new seating plan half way through the semester and she finds herself sitting next to Patch.

Although Patch is incredibly handsome, there is also something very sinister about him. He seems to know far too much about Nora’s personal life and, although she is strangely attracted to him, he also frightens her to her core.

Around the same time, Nora begins to see disturbing things. An unseen stranger watches her while she’s sleeping and then a man in a ski mask attacks her one night as she drives home. As Patch begins to show up wherever she goes and reveals that he knows very personal things about her, Nora realises that she needs to learn more about him. Is he a stalker, or does he have some even more sinister motivation for harassing her?

It has become increasingly apparent to me over the course of writing for this blog that Twilight has a lot to answer for. While I still don’t believe that it is a good novel, it’s influence can be seen in so many inferior paranormal romances. I noted this a couple of months ago when I reviewed Evermore and I can see again here. Hush, Hush takes so much inspiration from Twilight and yet is somehow far less satisfying than it on a whole.

The opening chapter, in which Nora and Patch are forced to be science-buddies, is incredibly reminiscent of the class in which Bella and Edward gradually start to bond, yet there is less of the awkward charm. Both Bella and Edward have something likable about them – something that causes you to be interested in their interactions and curious to see how their friendship will develop. This is what Hush, Hush is sorely lacking.

None of the characters in the novel are especially likable. While I understand that Nora’s bereavement has made her distrustful, this manifests itself in extreme paranoia which leads to her jumping to some incredibly hasty conclusions on next to no evidence. When she learns that a boy in her school was once a suspect in a murder case, she becomes fixated on the fact that the boy is a killer despite the fact that he was proven innocent.

She also has absolutely no backbone. Although her friends often ask her to do things that make her uncomfortable, she rarely ever says ‘no’ to them. I suppose that this is supposed to show what a nice person she is but, instead, it made her look like a doormat. In one chapter, Vee manages to convince Nora to come and meet her in the most dangerous part of town. Rather than to tell her friend to sod off, Nora immediately goes running at her friend’s beck and call. Similarly, no matter how uncomfortable Patch makes her, Nora never tells him to take a long walk off a short pier either. She complains bitterly about his mind games and occasionally says that she’s not going to do whatever he asks her but invariably does so anyway seconds later.

The few friends that Nora keeps are no better. I started off feeling a little sorry for Vee, as the author seemed to have characterised her as being a “curvy” friend with no interests other than food, yet my sympathy for her quickly evaporated. She was so unbelievably selfish that she would put her own interests (boys, lol!) before her friend’s emotional well-being time and time again. Even when she learned that one of the boys she liked had threatened to hurt Nora, she was still quick to take the side of the boy. Her childish behaviour made me think that Nora was all the more pathetic for asking “how high” whenever Vee said “jump”.

Finally, there is Patch. My God, I hate Patch. I hated him from the very first chapter and he never grew on me. I hate the way that he talks to Nora. I hate the way that he embarrasses her in public. I hate the way that he orders her around, telling her to meet him at certain places or wear her make up differently and she just obeys. Personally, I would have punched him right on the nose. His lack of respect for Nora continues all the way through the novel. Even when he eventually declares his love for her, it still feels unbelievable because they have no chemistry. There love feels entirely unbelievable because it’s built on fear. Nora seems to be suffering from some strange kind of Stockholm Syndrome because she’s forever saying how attracted she is to Patch in one breath, and terrified of him in the other. This made so little sense to me. How can you love someone who terrifies you? That kind of relationship just sounds unhealthy and not at all the kind of thing that I’d want to advocate to teen readers as being the norm.

When it comes to the plot, the novel also does not fair very well. Although I have to admit that I was curious as to who the stranger in the ski mask was (and the author did do well to keep my attention from the actual culprit), the story was poorly paced and slow burning on the whole. Nothing is really revealed within the first three hundred pages of the story, with every plot twist spelled out over the course of the final few chapters. Most of these twists are very easy to guess long before this occurs.

The fact that Patch is a fallen angel is revealed on the front cover and the prologue introduces the Nephilim, which are also important (although after this they escape any further mention until the climax). All plot twists are either heavily sign-posted or come entirely out of left field, with nothing previously to indicate that they were ever coming. For me, this made some pretty bland reading. I like a story that can defy my expectations. I get bored very quickly when it becomes apparent that the story has no surprises in store for me.

To make matters even worse, a lot of the action in the climax takes place when Nora is absent. I’ve spoken at length before about the weakness of first person narrative and this is yet another example of this. Because Nora was either unconscious or absent for both of these climatic sequences, the defeat of her enemies has to be described to her by Patch after they occur. This means that the reader also misses out on the most exciting sequences of the story. For me, this is a real pet hate as it just feels like a lazy way for an author to avoid writing an intense scene.

Anyhow, I think I’m beginning to ramble and so I should probably wrap this review up. All in all, Hush, Hush was a very disappointing novel. Its story was slow paced and did not really feel as though it was moving until the final fifty pages. To make matters worse, all of the characters were wholly dislikeable and the romance felt forced and unconvincing. I never thought that I’d catch myself saying this but if you want to read a novel about a teenage girl’s relationship with a dark supernatural entity, you’re probably better off reading Twilight.

Hush, Hush can be purchased as a Paperback, eBook and Audio Book on Amazon.co.uk

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