by Amy Garvey
How far would you go to save the person you loved most in the world? And what if he were already…dead?
Wren’s boyfriend Danny died in a car accident before she had a chance to say goodbye. In a moment of grief, she brings him back from the dead with a powerful spell. But she soon realizes that the boy brought back is no longer quite the boy she loved.
I was really impressed by many aspects of this novel. From the description, I expected to find a typical YA paranormal romance, but was pleasantly surprised to find that the author spends a great deal of time reflecting on love, loss, grief, and responsibility. She skillfully sketches out the close relationship between Danny and Wren, and specifically shows us what an adorable boyfriend and great person he was. So it’s all too easy to feel sympathy for Wren’s pain and to understand how her bereavement led her to grasp for such a incredible solution without considering the enormity of the consequences.
Wren is a great character, too, full of complexity and conflict and confusion. She has dyed hair and piercings and a mouthy exterior, but she’s also close to her sister, trying to understand her mother and the powers she’s inherited, and estranged from her two best friends. The first half of this novel was extremely compelling to me as I was drawn in by Wren’s struggle to balance the exhausting demands of her terrible secret with the ties she has to her everyday life, and I felt a great deal of sympathy for the guilt and grief that overwhelms her, as well as a great deal of admiration for the way she accepted responsibility for the choices she had made.
The story started to lose its magic for me, however, as Wren began to neglect Danny more and more. While at first, it seemed understandable that she would simply put him to sleep when she needed to leave because of his increasing awareness and dependence upon her, it began to happen far too much for my comfort, particularly after a certain turning point. (The paranormal aspects of the book are also very slight.) While I wasn’t enraged by the presence of Gabriel, the new boy who is attentive towards her, as I think it’s a natural progression in life, I don’t think that it was necessary to have given him the kind of insight that he had. It didn’t really add anything to the story, and made his role both much more and much less important than it needed to be. Had the book focused more on Wren and the importance of learning to let go, reading it would have been a much stronger and much more gut-wrenching experience.
Overall, I liked this book but didn’t love it as much as I initially thought I would. The interesting premise and the emotional themes that were introduced in the beginning just weren’t explored quite as deeply as I’d hoped they’d be–which is a shame, because with a little more development, this slight book had the potential to transcend the genre and to be something really, really great.
Release Date: September 20, 2011
Rated 3 out of 5 stars