Phew, I am so glad that's over. I can't believe I actually made it through all those pages, I'm sure I wouldn't have done if I hadn't set myself the challenge of reading every monthly book club read chosen by one of my groups. Ugh. Seriously, just ugh. I have read some dismal books in the young adult paranormal genre, books that have been boring or annoying or have offended me, but I think I can honestly say this is up there with some of the worst books I've ever read. Everything about this book aggravated me in one way or another, from the ridiculous length of it to the male protagonist who's about as convincingly male as estrogen pills. I couldn't even concentrate on the story for the most part because I kept picturing Ethan as a thirty-something woman.
There are some things I'm going to rant about that may not have bothered me several years ago before [b:Twilight|41865|Twilight (Twilight, #1)|Stephenie Meyer|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1361039443s/41865.jpg|3212258] came along, waving its cliche banners, and I appreciate that some people might find this slightly unfair seeing as this novel was released four years before the saga*. Well, unfortunately, I can only tell you what I thought of this book now, not speculate on what I might have thought if I'd read it a few years earlier. And, this fact aside, other things have nothing to do with when it was written or its similarities with other novels that have since been released from this genre. Like the fact that Ethan pisses me off and is a terrible attempt at writing a teenage male voice.
So, let's get the whole "this is like every other paranormal young adult book" thing out of the way. There were one or two additions to the witchy aspect of it that felt somewhat original but the general pattern of this novel with the romance and the carbon copy characters was predictable and, therefore, boring. No one likes a boring read and it's especially annoying when the book is nearly 600 pages long. Shall I check the usual paranormal YA criteria off for you? Small town... check. New girl... check. Boring holier-than-thou protagonist... check. Everlasting love after a very small amount of time... check. I don't know if this counts as instalove but it certainly counts as instaweirdobsession, full of laughable musings like "there's just something about her that makes me know it's meant to be" (hopefully, it's obvious that this is not a direct quote).
I thought that this book might be a little more original because of the uncommon choice to have a male protagonist, but everything is still exactly the same. Now, though, instead of a girl-next-door type, you have a boy-next-door type who sails along in his faultlessness, constantly comparing himself to the less intelligent and morally-questionable beings he must interact with every day. Ethan even treats us to a rare bout of what I can only call male slut-shaming; he criticises his male peers for having one-track minds and wanting to get off with girls when he is looking for something more meaningful... good for him, but why does that make him any better than the rest? He is actually an exact male version of many paranormal YA protagonists who criticise the popular girls for being more relaxed with their sexuality.
Not only that, but he also insults the other members of his Southern US town. The novel plays heavily on Southern stereotypes and portrays almost everyone but Ethan as being incredibly stupid. Ethan sneers at everyone, he is obviously smarter, has his morals in the right place and is just downright awesome in comparison. He makes it no secret from the very first chapter that he considers himself above them and it made me hate him before the story had even started going anywhere. He even goes so far as to announce that he doesn't have an accent because he was raised by intelligent people... I have two words for him: HATEFUL SNOB. Or FUCK YOU. Either works.
And predictable. This was Predictable with a capital P. We don't even need to meet Lena or even hear her name to realise that she is the one Ethan will end up with. As soon as one of Ethan's classmates asks "have you seen the new girl?" and Ethan begins to wonder if she'll be hot, we know from that point where the whole thing is heading. Sometimes, I'll admit, there's some fun to be had watching a couple angst it out together, even though you know they'll be together eventually, but before we even knew her name? I can't even say that I stopped caring because, truthfully, I never even started. This whole book was just... not good. Not good at all.