Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Winter People - Rebekah L. Purdy

Title: The Winter People
Author: Rebekah L. Purdy
Publisher: Entangled Publishing, 2014 (Hardcover)
Length: 351 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy
Started: November 24, 2014
Finished: November 27, 2014

From the inside cover:

Salome Montgomery fears winter - the cold, the snow, the ice, but most of all, the frozen pond she fell through as a child. Haunted by the voices of the strange beings that pulled her to safety, she hasn't forgotten their warning to "stay away." For eleven years, she has avoided the winter woods...until she is left in charge of maintaining her grandparents' estate. This includes the "special gifts" that must be left at the back of the property.

Salome discovers she's a key player in a world she's tried for years to avoid. At the centre of this world is the strange and beautiful Nevin. Cursed with dark secrets and knowledge of the creatures in the woods, he takes Salome's life in a new direction - one where she'll have to decide between her longtime crush, Colton, who could cure her fear of winter. Or Nevin, who, along with an appointed bodyguard, Gareth, protects her from the darkness that swirls in the snowy backdrop.

An evil that, given the chance, will kill her.

I saw the cover and read the synopsis (and it just happened to be getting cold and snowy here) and it put me in the right mood to read this. Unfortunately this book just didn't live up to its potential. It was an engrossing read and there were aspects I quite enjoyed, but in the end there were too many things that made me roll my eyes and detracted from the overall enjoyment.

Salome fell through the frozen pond on her grandparents' property when she was six. Though she was mysteriously rescued, she was forever traumatized by the experience. It didn't help that she hears voices in the winter too, voices that speak about her, voices that want to kill her. Avoiding winter by becoming a hermit during those months has helped till now, but when her grandparents vacation south for their health and her mother injured and her father working, Salome is the only one to maintain the property while they're gone.

While working in the woods, she meets Nevin, your typical stoic romantic interest that spurns her at times, claiming he's no good for her and that he hurts those he loves, while at the same time being incredibly enticing. She's also dating Colton, her classmate and long-time crush, who she discovers has a smidge of an anger-management problem. At the same time, bodyguard Gareth keeps saving her butt from constant frigid dangers in the Michigan woods, all the while being very appealing as a love interest as well. Eventually Salome gets it together enough to connect the very obvious pieces of the situation (your obligatory curse of course), and tries to solve it in order to be with one of the three potential love interests.

First off, the writing falls flat. The author overuses profanity, slang, and general low-brow language that gives the impression that a seventeen-year-old is not only the focus of the book but also the author of it. Considering the content of the book (faeries, supernatural, etc.), I would expect more from what I saw.

Secondly, Salome is not what I would consider a realistic character or one I would recommend as a strong female protagonist. Salome is very passive, she can't even research things properly on her own. I don't know about you, but if I almost died several times from freaky ice creatures and suspected my family was hiding things from me about said freaky things, I'd have my butt on the computer or in the library until I figured that crap out for myself rather than putting it off because I wasn't ready for it. She is constantly being rescued and even refers to herself as a damsel in distress. I'm not saying female characters need to be strong 100% of the time and can't be rescued at all, but the level of dependence she has on all three guys just gets repetitive and old. She also at one point  dates three guys at a time, which later drops to two. She is indecisive and strings them along because she can't figure out what she wants, which is a bad example for girls to see, and is a horrible stereotype of women that I would love to never see again in a YA book. And the portrayal of Kadie is not better, seriously all that girl talks about is screwing guys, talk about a one-dimensional character.

Thirdly, the cliches, oh the cliches. From the love square (this is definitely a first in my experience) of moody, unpredictable men that have you screaming at Salome, "run for the hills, girl!", to the "I'm no good for you, I can't kiss you, you need to forget about me" line from Nevin, to efforts to prolong the book through Salome's family's refusal to tell her anything about the curse or even point her in the right direction despite the number of near fatal encounters she has, there's just too many aspects that have me banging my head against the book in frustration.

Granted, there are things I liked. I did enjoy the setting. You don't often see books set in Michigan in the winter, so I liked the atmosphere that gave to the novel. The faery folk were quite mysterious and spooky at times, so there's a plus as well. Gareth as a character was enjoyable, he is the better choice out of the group of Salome's suitors and one that doesn't act like a douche or a psychopath. I like the author's choice of Salome as the main character's name, I'm still figuring out if the cultural significance behind the name fits with Salome in this book, but I give the author credit for using a uncommon name. The entire novel was very engrossing despite the problems listed above, regardless of what I felt about Salome I still wanted to know what happened to the girl.

I'm torn. I think this is worth a borrow from the library, but will eventually infuriate some readers to the point of abandoning the book.

Thoughts on the cover:
This cover is freaking gorgeous and fits completely with the theme and setting of the book. I love the pensive look in the model's face and having her face fade into the trees and snow with the gate at the back.

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