This is a book review for The Unearthly by Laura Thalassa, available here.
I downloaded this after seeing it on a friend’s Facebook page. It sounded right up my street and I think at the time it was on a free promotion. I’m not sure that the blurb matches the actual content of the story all that much, but that can be forgiven. Everyone stretches the plot a little to market it. I also didn’t know when I downloaded this that it was a series, so that’s something to be aware of. I thought it was a standalone so was a little disappointed that the story just ends without any answers. It does have a very striking cover!
For me this book was really frustrating. I actually really enjoyed reading it. I liked the premise. I liked most of the characters, especially Oliver. He had some moments that put a smile on my face. It’s well copy-edited, which makes a change these days. After a couple of initial hiccups where Andre did something totally bullying and OTT alpha, I was glad that Gabrielle rallied and put him back in his place.
I actually thought that Gabrielle was a great main character. She just kept rolling with the hits, trying to stay true to her morals and not freak out too much over the things she was learning. She was a little self-absorbed at times but then what teenager isn’t? I was glad that she was independent and wasn’t prepared to let anyone bully her into anything. I also liked how the end played out, that there was a clear demarcation between doing what she wants and doing what’s right, because sometimes what you want isn’t what’s good for you. I did think it jumped to the epilogue rather suddenly but it’s a small stylistic quibble.
So why was I so frustrated? I think it was because there were so many elements of this book that just stretched the suspension of my disbelief a little bit too far. I can’t believe anyone would be stupid enough to jolly along to a school on the other side of the planet without doing any research on it first, for a start. I also felt that the plot was a little shallow at times, as though things were just skimmed over. I also really wasn’t sure about The Man in the Suit, partly because I couldn’t stop thinking about Fringe and partly because when it’s revealed who it is, I just didn’t buy into it as a plot line for some reason. I was also a bit annoyed at how clumsy the whole plot to kill Gabrielle was. When you learn who it is, you also realise that there was no point in hiring hitmen. It was all pointless fluff.
The issue now is that there are so many supernatural YA stories set at boarding schools that you have to write them really well if you want to stand out and, for me, this one just didn’t tick all the boxes.
I’m not sure yet if I’ll download the rest of the series. I need to mull it over and see if I feel any different after a few days. It’s not a bad YA book. I would recommend it to someone looking for a new voice to follow. This is a debut novel and everyone grows with time. Definitely recommended for younger teen readers.