Shinigami Eyes is a story about a girl named Rin who is forced to pack up her life and move to Japan. She wants to forget the night that her imaginary friend, Misa, caused too much trouble for Rin and her family to continue ignoring. Unfortunately for her, it appears that Rin’s troubles are just beginning. At her new school, she meets Matt, a foreigner with a manga obsession. He claims that he has a manga that can see the future and that they must stop the events from occurring. It sounds crazy to Rin, but soon even she is forced to believe that someone–or something–is trying to make the events in the manga come true. She struggles for a time with how much stock she should put into the manga: Is it fate, or can you change what is foretold? Shinigami Eyes pairs writing with manga panels, which are used so infrequently that they shouldn’t have been used at all. If you’re going to do something different with your book, be consistent. I would have loved to see more manga panels. It would have been amazing if the writing had cut off and the story continued in the panels before returning to the writing. It would have made Shinigami Eyes unique.
This book was a mess. There is no gentle way of putting it, unfortunately. Shinigami Eyes is meant to be written in first person present tense, but the author struggled with it throughout the entire book. There were many times when the present tense switched abruptly to the past tense, which caused me to stumble through sections of the book. This happened often enough that I could no longer write it off as a minor slip-up. It was something that was continually missed when people were doing readings of the book. Shinigami Eyes needed to have more editing done on it before it was published. There were many times that I questioned if editing had been done on it at all. As well as the problem with the tenses, Shinigami Eyes continually struggled with fractured sentences. Fractured sentences can sometimes work when you are writing fast-paced action scenes because it helps you get in the narrator’s head as you find the heartbeat of the writing. However, the book often read as if someone was writing a basic, bullet point list of descriptions and neglected to expand on them. There were far too many odd sentences that could have been condensed down to a more concise sentence. My inner editor was extremely unhappy when I came this part of a sentence: “…while getting nervous distained (sic) glances from my fidgety grandmother.” I believe the author meant disdained glances, unless the glances were stained glances. These are things that an editor should have caught and recommended that “while getting nervous looks of disdain from my fidgety grandmother” works much better. I really hope that my copy was old and that it was updated before publishing.
Overall, I wasn’t a fan of the Smith’s writing style. It’s unfortunate, because the idea of a manga telling the future and being the only way you can unravel a mystery as it’s happening was really interesting. I just wish the action had started earlier in the book. It was not fun to read until roughly page 190, when I decided that if I ignored the fact that I disliked all of the characters, I could finish the story. That is when the mystery really picked up. The first half of the book should have been cut in half. If less time had been spent on Rin whining about her forced move and how everyone was mean to her (even though she was mean right back), we could have gotten to the meat of the mystery sooner. It sacrificed characterization in order to push us roughly to the end. It took far too much time on telling us how put-upon Rin was, which only served to make me disgusted by her. The characters as a whole were very flat, one dimensional, and pulled from the pile of stock characters, so I read with a level of detachment as the story hurtled toward its end. And even then, we couldn’t just be done. It had to leave off on a cliffhanger. It reminds me of made-for-TV Sci-Fi channel movies. Part of the “horror” of it is that you can never escape. Thankfully I could. It was horror that tells you it is supposed to be horror but doesn’t get your heart to pound. If there are sequels, I won’t be checking them out.
2 stars, because even though I hated the characters, I still finished the story.
I received a copy from the publisher through Net Galley in exchange for a honest review.