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|Here (On the Otherside #1)
by Denise Grover Swank
Publish Date: November 11, 2011
My Source: review copy from the author
Sixteen year old Julia Phillips buries herself in guilt after killing her best friend Monica in a car accident. Julia awoke in the hospital with a broken leg, a new talent for drawing and false memories of the accident, in which she dies and Monica lives. The doctors attribute this to her head injury, but no one can explain how a bracelet engraved with her name ended up at the scene of the accident. A bracelet no one has ever seen before.
Classmate Evan Whittaker paid Julia no attention before the accident, let alone after. Now suddenly he’s volunteering to tutor her and offering to drive her home. She can’t ignore that his new obsession started after his two-day disappearance last week and that he wears a pendant she’s been drawing for months. When the police show up one night looking for Evan, he begs Julia to run with him, convincing her that Monica is still alive. Julia agrees to go, never guessing where he’s really from. –(summary from Goodreads)
Here by Denise Grover Swank
My Thoughts: Here is one of those books that started out one way and then took a huge turn and ended with a BANG! In the beginning, I thought that this would end up to be a young adult romance – and it was – it just ended up being so much more than that the further I got into the book. As I read, the plot went from almost a little bit predictable to I-have-no-idea-what’s-coming-next…I ended up really loving this book and I’m anxiously awaiting the release of the second book in this series, There.
Let’s talk about Here, shall we?
1. The Characters. Here is a book that is largely about Julia, a lonely high-schooler who has no social status, no friends, and a dysfunctional family. Broken and guilt-ridden over being the driver in an accident that claimed the life of her best friend, Julia has fallen into a deep depression and is having a tough time clawing her way out of it. Julia has quit studying and doing homework, and because of this she is in danger of failing her grade, prompting her school guidance counselor to intervene. She is given tutors to help catch her up in her classes every day after school. Julia can hardly believe it when she finds that one of her tutors is none other than the most popular guy in school, Evan.
Evan seems very friendly and willing to help Julia – almost overly eager – which makes Julia very confused. Why, all of a sudden, after all of these years of school together – years of never speaking a word to each other – is Evan now interested in helping her? And not only is he helping her but he is gracious and kind, and it almost seems like he has a crush on her. What on earth is going on? Evan’s crush intensifies over a short time and before long, Julia can’t help but admit that she’s always liked him too, thus beginning a not-quite-but-almost insta-love romance.
Julia’s parents and sister play a large role during the first part of the book, but are virtually non-existent in the latter portion of the book. Her parents are constantly on her case and her sister is not very nice. They didn’t act very understanding of what Julia was going through; they seemed more concerned with themselves than with Julia. As secondary characters, I didn’t like them very much – but this is because I was very connected emotionally to Julia and her issues, and I didn’t feel like her family was even half as concerned as I was. They are important to the story, but they are indeed secondary. There are other secondary characters that left me forming strong opinions, but I can’t mention them without giving away very large plot points and I don’t want to do that!
2. The Story. The story seems to start out as a young adult romance between a broken spirit and a high-school golden boy. Honestly, the romance seems too good to be true – too perfect and quick, and everything fell into place so well. However, as Evan starts acting strange (as the romance progresses) the plot begins to take on twists and turns, and wow! it makes much more sense to me why the romance in the first part of the book fell together so perfectly. What starts out as a YA kinda/sorta-contemporary romance turns into a science-fiction with some other stuff thrown in there. It’s very, very cool. I want to tell you all about it, but more than that: I want you to read about it for yourself because experiencing it without knowing anything about it made an incredible story for me.
3. The Romance. Okay, I told you earlier that this romance seemed not-quite-but-almost insta-love – and it was, in the beginning. It fell into place too perfectly – this handsome and popular high school boy and this social outcast with no friends suddenly becomes a couple that can’t stand the thought of being without one another. Well:
- There’s another guy – Reece – which makes this a love triangle. I know, I know – some of you don’t like love triangles, but I don’t mind them one bit, especially when they include a guy like Reece. Honestly, this is one of the rare cases in a book where I can barely decide who is the best choice between the two guys. As the plot turns and thickens, and as the book progresses, things sort of intensify between Julia and both of these boys. Just trust me, it’s a good triangle. And I cannot wait to see where it will go in the next book.
- I mentioned earlier that the romance was a quick-to-develop romance in the beginning. While it was indeed a little bit cheesy to start off, if you stick with the story you see that it makes sense and there is a reason for it. I love the way the author brought everything that we initially think is confusing full circle. In the end, all of the details, including the weirdness of the romance, made total sense. (I had an a-ha! moment at one point when parts about the early romance were revealed.)
4. The Cover. You know what? I like it. I can’t pinpoint exactly why, but I do. Somehow the girl on the front is exactly Julia from the beginning of the book.
Here by Denise Grover Swank is really something special. I started reading it with the belief that it was one thing and it ended up being something far from what I initially thought. There were so many twists and turns, so many details and points of action – I’m impatient for the next book so I can continue Julia’s story right away.
Speaking again of Julia, this author has a talent for creating a female main character that develops well over the story, which is something that I always love. Julia was weak in the beginning but by the end, she was butt-kicking strong. So many things had to happen during that transformation to make it so, and it was the cleverness of the author’s writing and the smooth transitions through the twists and turns that kept me engaged throughout all of it. More than that, though, it was the imaginative plot that makes me want to recommend this book to readers of all ages, particularly those who enjoy paranormal romance-type stories.
Here will appeal to fans of:
Paranormal/Science Fiction/Possible Dystopian
Not-Quite-But-Almost Insta-Love Romance with a Love Triangle
Suitable for readers of all ages
Here by Denise Grover Swank is currently available for purchase.
**I received a review copy from the author in exchange for an honest opinion and review. I received no compensation for my thoughts. Thank you, Denise!
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