(Notice: I received an advance reader copy of the e-book for a fair and honest review.)
From the "back of the book":
"Chira Kelly thought she didn't need anyone...until she met Ben.
Because of one ugly rumor, Chira lives as an outcast at her school. Which is fine with her, because she works better alone. Always has, always will. And at least she has her one and only true friend, Tasha. When Tasha insists that they join a group to visit a possibly haunted abandoned old schoolhouse, she's wary, but joins her friend. Because of that decision, their lives are in jeopardy as a malevolent spirit targets the group. Tragedies and accidents pick them off one by one, and Chira finds herself drawn to the one person who can see the truth. But can he protect her?"
From the author of Armored Hearts, and a handful of other novels, Pauline Creeden brings us the first book in a new series. The book is marketed in the Paranormal Romance genre, and while it does fit that bill, it's also a paranormal mystery, if that's more your style.
Insert standard "The characters are awesome" line here. (Hey, if they weren't, my review would be a LOT shorter. ;) ) So, lets talk about them.
Being a romance, the characters hit all the genre requirements: the loner, misunderstood girl, the loner, brooding boy, the best friend... fortunately, none of them go overboard into cliche land. For example, Chira has the (almost genre required) crazy step-dad that hates her for no reason that she can discern, but she handles this by avoiding him, studying hard, and hanging out with her best friend (as opposed to brooding and moping...)
Her best friend's family provides a second home for Chira, so between that and her relationship with her mom, she avoids cliche and stays relate-able.
The whole "ugly rumor" (as mentioned in the blurb above) really brought me back to junior high (yeah, I wouldn't want to be that age again...)
Also, the love interest is a nice guy who you want to root for, instead of the creepy stalker type, like you'd find in some other paranormal romances *cough*.
The writing is nice and clean, and pulls you into the story without getting in the way. The whole world is filled out nicely with one tiny exception...
So, what didn't I like about this book? Only two things really:
- owls wings DO NOT make noise
- it's written in first person, present tense
Yeah, the first one's a nit-picky point, but it bothers me. Possibly because I've been about six feet away from a wild snow owl, and it flying away in complete and utter silence is one of the coolest things I've not heard.
The whole first-person present thing, I'll admit, is just a preference. I just don't like it. The only thing worse is 2nd person present (I'll quit reading those... yes, I hated the "Choose Your Own Adventure books...anyway...) A book written in firs-person present tense has to have REALLY good writing if it wants to keep me engaged, along with great characters and an interesting plot. This book had all three.
So, how to rate this one. I'd say four and half stars. Allow me to explain...
No, a book doesn't have to be "perfect" for me to give it five stars, and I'm not opposed to giving five stars to a book written in first-person present tense (though it would have to be as well-written as this one is...)
So, why not five stars? For me, one star is: "Ewww. I hate this, and am never reading anything by this author again." Two is: "I didn't like it." Three is: "Eh, it was okay, I guess..." Four is: "I really liked it!" Five stars is: "I LOVED this book and am totally fan-boy geeking out over it! I'm totally buying anything related to this awesome book!"
First Impression didn't quite do that for me... but it was close. It was more than four, but not quite five... Still, I'm definitely going to read more books in the series.