I picked this book up for one reason only, and that's because the cover sparkles. It's amazing, guys. Gorgeous. The digital version really can't do the dustjacket justice. And while I got some sass from the librarian, who apparently thought I was checking out too many books (I will read them, thank you very much!) I took it off with me without more than a baleful glare back at the circulation desk. And then I started figuring out what this book was about.
It's about four people--Blue, Elisa, Jason, and Gabe--when they travel from New York to a town in Nova Scotia so Blue can sell his late grandmother's house. Elisa is Blue's best friend, Jason is her husband, and Gabe is just kind of along for the ride. When they arrive in Starling Cove, however, things are just...weird. Blue feels like something is watching him, or maybe he's watching himself, and he's hearing voices and finding out strange things about his past that he has no memory of. All of Starling Cove is a strange place, and a menacing one. It's clear that there's something in the woods, but it's not clear what. Monsters? Aliens? Faeries? All of these are floated and discarded for the ultimate "mushy" term of "Other Kind," and those Other Kind cause a host of problems.
At first, I thought this was going to be a faerie book, one a little more in line with Tithe than the last fae-oriented book I read, Foul is Fair. But ultimately, I'm not sure I can categorize this as a "fae" book because...none of the traditional things are used. There's a colony of somethings living under a mountain, which is kind of faerie-like, and there's a dark edge of menace (this was a legitimately creepy book at times) but it's never really driven home that these are fae, or anything else in particular, and the lack of definition really bothered me. I think Levy might have used it as a technique, let the reader decide what they really are, but to me it just felt like a cop-out, like he couldn't really explain what his creations were so he just let them go. To me, it ended up feeling like he kind of took Tithe, with its changelings and such, and swapped out the faeries for the Buggers from Ender's Game. Ultimately, that's what this reminded me of more than anything else: Ender's Game, especially the end of Ender's Game. Gabe's part in particular, when he goes down under the mountain.
The characters I liked, for the most part. They do a lot of stuff I really frown upon--there's absolutely no excuses for infidelity in my book--which Levy explains way by way of "oooooh maaaaagic," making the characters completely unresponsible for their own actions. That's a real cop-out of character development, as is Gabe in general. Gabe had such an awesome backstory and original motives for going along with the group, but his decisions ultimately didn't make sense--he couldn't bear to live without Blue, but yet that's exactly what he wants to do? While self-conflict can be a great inclusion, it needs to be resolved, and this really wasn't. It just is, and we're supposed to accept that.
The writing I both liked and disliked in turns. There were some great chunks of description, but the writing overall made me feel vaguely seasick. Or carsick. Some sort of motion sickness, even though I was never actually moving while reading this. It's not the first time this has happened; it's just some sort of rhythm that Levy implemented that left me a little bit repulsed for a reason that I can't really put my finger on. I had to fight through to the very end, especially through Gabe's part of the book, and I was glad to be rid of it when I finished.
This is not a book I would read again. While I think it had some real potential, it overall just felt lacking, and I feel like it needed to pick a more solid direction and go with it. I am, however, going to count it for the Popsugar challenge as "A book that scares you." It didn't give me nightmares or have me double-checking the locks, but no book ever has--and this creeped me out sufficiently several times.
2.5 stars out of 5.