Graylee "Gray" and her twin sister, Charlene, don't quite get along. They are both witches, but Gray's power is less than her sister's - until she finds out Charlene was shielding Gray's power and holding her back.
One day, Gray wakes up in Charlene's bed wearing Charlene's clothes. Worse, everyone is talking about her being dead! Turns out, Gray is dead and must live every other day in Charlene's body. Will Gray ever return to her body or must she live out the rest of her existence in her sister's body? And who killed her?
REAL QUOTE FROM BOOK:
"Gray nearly choked. "Jenna Hocking! But she's ugly." Okay, so that was rude, but at least she sounded like Charlene. And Jenna Hocking? The girl was bucktoothed and frizzy haired. Sure, she had jugs the size of melons, but it was a bit hard to believe that Blake Foster would sleep with her--not when he'd snagged the school's beauty queen, Stacey Morehouse."
This is the point at which I threw in the towel, at 41% through the novel. I had already had problems with it, but this single quote was what convinced me that I couldn't bother with this book anymore. If your main character is portrayed as a goody-goody, yet goes around insulting other girls about their physical features, you've lost me.
But honestly, the novel had many other problems that probably would have made me quit anyway. I'll get into these, after I spend a little time talking about what I did like.
One of the things I did like about this book was that Gray and Charlene already knew about their witchcraft powers and were pretty adept in them (though Gray has to learn a wee bit because she's been shielded). Too often, stories are hampered with characters learning they are Super Speshul Awesomesauce, and while those stories can be interesting, they do tend to be boring and fall into cliche traps.
I also liked how Gray was proud of her ability to perform invisibility, a skill no one else had. Again, how many female protagonists have a Super Speshul Awesomesauce Skill and are PROUD of it? Off the top of my head, I can't really think of anyone.
The third nice thing about this book was that, for once, there is a non-white major character, Raj. Of course, this has it's negative aspects....but I'll get to that in just a few moments.
For those that are tired of all the romance that is tossed higgledy-piggledy into novels these days, this was a refreshing read. Sure, Gray makes eyes at a guy, but it's kept very much in the backseat (or at least in the portion that I read) and it didn't become "I saw you once and talked to you, now I am deeply and madly in love with you and will give you my last kidney because I love you so much".
And lastly, the book has a nice light-hearted tone, which I really appreciated. I get tired of all these mopey, depressing, emo books where everything is melodramatic and life-threatening and blah blah blah. Sometimes you just want to have a little fun, no?
And really, folks, that's it. I had a tough time coming up with good stuff about this book, because there was quite a bit I found questionable.
1) With the way the cover blurb talks, you would think Gray would die within the first two chapters. Not so; she doesn't die until about chapter 10 or a good 30% through the novel. I suppose you could argue that the 30% was building characters, but the thing is: the characters aren't compelling, interesting, or even well-developed, even given all this time spent on them. Plus, a good author could have you figure out how a character was, using his or her thoughts and flashbacks, after the death had already occurred.
2) For an urban fantasy/paranormal novel, there is just way too much melodramatic high school antics and far too little witchcraft and paranormal. If I wanted to read a "Freaky Friday" high school drama, I'm not going to look in the Urban Fantasy section. That's not to say there is no place for it, but I had to remind myself constantly that these people were witches. A serious crime for a paranormal book.
3) The characters were just not compelling or likeable. No, I don't have to love a character in order to relate to them, but Gray wasn't compelling. She was boring. She was your typical "I'm not one of THOSE girly girls, I am FREE and INDEPENDENT and MY OWN PERSON", which is just so overdone (and not particularly convincing at this point - nearly EVERY SINGLE female protagonist is one of these "independent, free-thinking rebels"). I didn't like how she called HER OWN SISTER a slut on numerous occasions (or implied Charlene was a slut, based on the clothes); I didn't like how she looked down on everyone who was not like she was because they were "sellouts" or "popular" or wore different clothing than she did. Petty, immature, and self-righteous. If the author's point was to show that Gray was judgmental that would be one thing, but never once are the characters that Gray picks on given a chance to be anything but "sluts" or "bad people".
4) The only non-white, Raj, is yet another creepy, stalker-ish, abusive Love Interest. What a shame that one of the few Young Adult novels to have a non-white character is also one that makes that character into a creep! The way Raj looks at Gray, how he intimidates her, how he stalks her, how he uses magic to remove the buttons off a teacher's shirt just to get Gray's attention (yes, this happens!), how he thinks about her is just wrong and abusive. And yet, somehow I get the impression he is supposed to be a viable Love Interest. Uh, HELLOOO, this guy is BAD NEWS!! To her credit, Gray doesn't swoon at his feet, but honestly, she ought to be telling her counselor or mother about his creepy actions, and yet it's as if he's a mildly annoying guy that stole her pencil. NOT COOL.
5) At one point, it is brought up that Charlene would like to kill the girl that "stole" her boyfriend. Neither Gray nor her mother bat an eye. And the strange thing about this is that they are dead serious. What kind of mother just looks the other way when her daughter is serious about killing another girl OVER A BOY??? And why doesn't anyone blame the BOY for being horrible and cheating on Charlene? He is just as much, no, MORE to blame for leaving Charlene than the girl.
6) While I liked the light-hearted tone, I thought the book overall felt as if it were geared to a much younger audience, like early teens. And yet, some of the events (such as Raj's horrible stalkeryness) are definitely NOT things I would want a young teen to read!
So those are my reasons I gave up on this one. Maybe it gets better; maybe Gray learns not to be such a stuck-up snob to other girls that aren't in her clique. Maybe Raj gets his comeuppance for being a stalkery guy. Maybe there is a lot more exploration of the powers of these witches and such. But I have no interest in seeing how it ends, and given how short life is and how many books I have to read, this book and I are parting ways. I recommend checking out samples before purchasing this, see if it is something you like.
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