In Lauren Bird Horowitz’s debut novel, Shattered Blue, Noa and her family are broken from the loss of Isla, the oldest daughter and sister, the year before. They try to heal in their own way–her father by abandoning them for his work, Noa in her poems, and her mother to the dark. It is during this time that Noa meets Callum, a mysterious stranger that she is inexplicably drawn to even as he strikes her as odd. They’ve both lost someone important to them and cannot stop the truths spilling from their mouths when they meet. Callum is from a world that exists elsewhere, and by telling Noa that he is Fae, he’s put her in danger. When Callum’s past reaches across the worlds for him, Noa realizes that loving someone who is Fae is not easy, particularly when other Fae are in the mix.
Shattered Blue is divided into three sections entitled with the three main character’s names. In the beginning we follow Noa. The book began really strongly. Noa’s voice was very clear, and Horowitz wrote in a very poetic way that made me feel the realness of the setting and the characters. The dialogue between Noa and her best friends Olivia and Miles was well-done and realistic. I really enjoyed their interactions. Tension is drummed up between the three of them with the introduction of Callum, the new transfer student. Miles is jealous and Olivia is convinced that Noa is keeping something from her. It was a nice balance between keeping the peace with her friends and slowly becoming interested in the new student. Meanwhile, she has to hide her true self at home in order to not break her mother’s heart, which in turn made me hurt. She wanted to protect her mother, but her silence cost her. When the novel switched to Callum’s point of view, it suffered. Not because reading the novel in Callum’s voice was bad, but because it switched from Callum back to Noa, and also threw in occasional portions that were voiced by other characters. It jumped around. Horowitz should have stuck with the three voices. I expected her to, especially when the sections of the book go by their names. Honestly, I would have been happier to follow Noa throughout the entirety of the novel. I missed her voice when the book switched its focus.
I love a good “forbidden love” kind of romance, and Noa and Callum’s was pretty good. How can you love someone when their touch will steal something vital to you, but also vital to them for survival? They figure out a way around it, but with the addition of another character, a subtle love triangle grows even as Noa tries to stop it. As I’ve mentioned in other reviews, I’m not a big fan of love triangles. I feel that they are thrown into young adult novels too much and that they can take away from the story. However, because it wasn’t obvious to the characters (although it was rather obvious to me), I didn’t have as big of an issue this time around. I did have an issue with who it was, but this is an ARC and I don’t want to ruin it for other readers. Unfortunately, I feel like the love progressed too fast. Similar to how the events of Shattered Blue happened rather speedily, the romance seemed to be built in roughly two weeks of story time, and I still feel like that’s being too generous. Callum and Noa’s relationship was instant-lovey because it seemed like she had only known him two days before falling completely for him. I enjoyed Noa’s relationship with the other character a bit more because she got to know him as they were working together, instead of basing it only on physical attractiveness.
I felt that the events of Shattered Blue occurred too quickly. At first, the novel took its time setting up the story and the characters. It allowed the characters to breathe as they dealt with their losses. Some of my favorite parts of the story were the times Noa spent with her family. I loved when Noa and her father spent time in the kitchen making pastries, something they had done with Isla before she died. I wanted Noa to tell her mother that the poems she’d found were not Isla’s, but Noa knew that her silence was the only thing that could protect her mother from the truth. They were gentle and heart-breaking, because you can see these characters still reeling from their loss even as they try to regain some semblance of normality to their lives. Then came a point when the revelations came faster and faster, new conflicts popping up as old ones were not completely solved. The characterization suffered here because all the time was spent on speeding us through the events toward the end of the novel. It stunted the novel a bit because there wasn’t enough time to grasp what was changing. It just came bullet-point fast. Characters were forgotten–or nearly forgotten–as the novel came to its big conclusion and something was thrown in so late to the novel that it bothered me. Shattered Blue easily could have been a stand-alone novel had it not been brought up at nearly the last reading minute. It serves only to set up the second in the series and doesn’t serve much purpose beyond that. I don’t think it was necessary to make this a trilogy. There obviously would have needed to be a few more chapters, but I do believe that it could have concluded beautifully in one book.
When I started Shattered Blue, I really thought I’d love it the entire time. Unfortunately, some of the things that happened brought my rating down to a final 3 stars.
I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Shattered Blue is slated for publication on September 15th, 2015.