I wasn’t too sure what this novel was about when I began reading. I started another book, but the beginning didn’t draw me in enough for a holiday read, so I put it aside and started this. From the first page, I wanted to know more. We are introduced to Emma, a girl who has basically had every crappy thing that could happen actually happen to her. Her twin brother dies of meningitis and then her mother dies of a terminal illness leaving her alone with her drunk and abusive step father. Finally, she agrees to move in with her rich aunt in New York and that’s when the fun begins.
One of the things I liked a lot in this novel was how much family seemed to matter to Emma. Her first and arguably best friend is her little cousin who shows her the ropes, is there when Emma needs her, and allows Emma to be something more than someone’s crush or girlfriend. One of the best scenes in this book come from Emma defending her little cousin’s honour. It is extremely brave of her, and something that makes us as the reader warm to Emma that little bit more.
This novel pretty much has it all. Suspense, action, romance, an interesting setting, a realistic and not massively cliched high school, and a drop of the paranormal. Some of my favourite books are when the story takes place in multiple settings. As this was set in New York, I was quite eager to see where Shultz would take her readers. And we saw quite a bit. I mostly enjoyed reading the scenes where Emma was getting to know new places with new faces. Like the club, or behind the Met, or even in Central Park. Though the setting wasn’t dramatically described, and anyone who didn’t know what these locations looked like would struggle, it wasn’t a big enough off put for me not to enjoy this story.
And then we come to the romance. Because this novel is set around a romance. What do you do when your true love is doomed to be the reason you die an early death? Well, according to Emma, you continue to date him because your own life is not as important as true love. It’s very ‘Romeo and Juliet’ but at the same time I wasn’t rolling my eyes and thinking ‘oh please’ like I have in other forbidden love novels. Brendan is a very swoon-worthy character, although he changes quite a bit throughout the novel. One minute he is aloof and pretty heavy with his fists and trouble. Then he is smooth talking and charming and too wise for his years. He goes from a fighting deejay to a well spoken (almost too well spoken for someone his age and in the setting they’re in) love-sick man. And I still dug him. He was very nice to read about…if you catch my drift 🙂
The couple did do that whole ‘we’ve been dating a week but we’re sooo in love’, however, this was pointed out by other characters in the novel, so I know that at least the author was aware her characters were moving too quickly and didn’t try to pull the wool over our eyes and force us to think that their love was real just by telling us. We were led to see. And actions, especially the ones at the end, were enough for us to understand for ourselves how much Emma and Brendan love each other.
As in every story, there is the antagonist. These were the only under developed characters within the novel for me. We have Kristin – the rich, blonde bitch of the school who, of course, takes a disliking to Emma and is hell bent on making Emma’s life hell. I do have to admit, the banter between the two was highly entertaining, and I did actually laugh out loud at some of the things that were said (Emma’s character is a funny, sarcastic and endearing one as it is). But I didn’t fully understand why Kristin was the way she was. I mean, yeah she might have a slight crush on Brendan but some of the things she did felt a little unbelievable with that as the motive. I’d like for this to be addressed more in the sequel – if there is one. Also, we have Anthony – the main antagonist and Kristin’s on/off boyfriend. He starts off harmless enough and as the story progresses he becomes a bigger and bigger threat to the point where actually, he’s a little cartoonish. Again, the motive we are given for his behaviour isn’t strong enough to fully explain, and he felt like a huge convenience to get the plot moving and developed. I loved him as the villain and if I wasn’t looking into this for a review I would have accepted it without question. But if I had to give one thing that would need improving, it would definitely be his character. Like Kristin, I’d like to find out more about him in the next book. Maybe why he reacts like such a crazy person over things that are actually his own fault.
Regardless, I very much enjoyed this and I’m rating 4.5 stars. A good read for a romance that goes down a slightly different route. Fans of high school dramas with an well thought out curse and backstory will love this.