Search This Blog

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

'Hush Hush' by Becca FITZPATRICK

Nora Grey doesn’t have time for romance. She’s far too concerned with keeping her grade-A average, maintaining her organic foods diet and keeping her best friend, Vee, out of trouble. But then Patch comes along. The two are forced to be lab partners and Nora finds herself disconcertingly attracted to the mysterious new boy, with his black eyes and devilish grin.

Flustered by her sudden attraction to Patch, Nora’s life is thrown into further chaos when a mysterious man in a ski mask starts following her, and lurking around her house at night. Is the appearance of Nora’s mystery stalker and Patch’s sudden interest in her somehow connected?

This was a case of a bad book ruining a fantastic front-cover. I was lured into buying Becca Fitzpatrick’s debut YA novel, ‘Hush Hush’, because of the wonderful cover art by photographer James Porto. I was also persuaded to purchase by Borders clever marketing that stacked the book beside Stephenie Meyer’s ‘Twilight’ and a sign that read; “if you liked Twilight, you’ll love ‘Hush Hush’”.

The books prologue has a noblemen being confronted by an angel who mysteriously insists on meeting with the man every Cheshvan (the start of the Hebrew month). The Angel’s parting message to the nobleman is the information that he is a Nephilim, the product of a human/fallen Angel coupling. Intriguing, true – but after that tempting prologue there is no mention made of the Nephilim until more than halfway through the book. The biggest problem with ‘Hush Hush’ is the lack of supernatural storyline. It’s false advertising – the beautiful front cover has an image of an angel and the tag line ‘A fallen Angel… A forbidden love’.

It puts the reader in an odd position – the cover and tagline lets us know what supernatural characters are to appear, but we are forced to read Nora’s none-the-wiser POV. There’s no suspense for the reader, we know what to expect – angels – but we have to sit through Nora’s confusion and her amateur sleuthing into Patch’s past. And it is amateur – Nora’s big break in the mystery comes in the form of a Google search; she literally types ‘angel wing scars’ into the search engine. And what prompted her search into fallen angels? - a carnival ride called the ‘Archangel’. If that’s not a sledgehammer to reader’s intelligence, I don’t know what is.

One of the reasons ‘Twilight’ worked so well was because, in conjunction with the Edward/Bella romance, there was the added mystery of animal attacks in Forks. The mystery angle upped the stakes for Edward and Bella and offered a respite from the romance, which would have come across sweet and cloying if not for the respite in storyline. In ‘Hush Hush, the added mystery is clearly an after-thought compared to the Nora/Patch romance. The storyline of a mysterious ski-masked man following Nora is occasionally thrown in for good measure, but other characters reactions to Nora’s tales of a spooky stalker are utterly contrived and unbelievable. And then the story behind the masked stalker is hastily wrapped up – there’s not even a scene drawing that storyline to a close, rather it’s explained through another character’s summary. Sloppy. The mystery storyline is further battered by the fact that Fitzpatrick has her bad-guys breaking the number one rule in the villain handbook. Never, under any circumstances (and no matter how large your ego), give away your evil intentions and motivations while you are in the process of carrying them out. Fitzpatrick literally has her cardboard-cut-out bad guys giving away all their evil intentions while holding Nora hostage.

The connection to ‘Twilight’ is dubious – one of the reasons for comparison is the fact that Nora and Patch are thrown together by a random biology seat-swap that turns them into lab partners. I wonder if Biology attendance has doubled in High Schools, since YA fiction would have us believe this is the perfect setting for budding teen romance. Ah, the sound of beakers clinking - like wedding bells. The smell of dissected frogs - a sweet and heady bouquet. And who can resist a man in a white lab coat and protective goggles?

The biggest 'Twilight' connection is that of a mortal human girl falling for a supernatural (replace ‘vampire’ with ‘fallen angel’) but whereas ‘Twilight’ made this big reveal quite early on in the book, it’s not until page 294 (of 391 pages) of ‘Hush Hush’ that this plot twist (but not really because there’s an angel on the book cover and the words ‘fallen angel’) comes to the fore. The fact that readers have known from the get-go that Patch is a fallen angel makes his big exposure pretty uneventful. It’s not until page 294 that Fitzpatrick delves into the Nephilim myth, which is actually pretty interesting. But when you read all the interesting myth and lore regarding fallen angels, it makes you wonder why Fitzpatrick didn’t just start her book at this point – why have 294 pages of Nora wondering about Patch’s mysterious past when as readers we’ve known all along that he’s a fallen angel.

I wish ‘Hush Hush’s’ ending had been the books starting point – because Fitzpatrick does come up with an interesting conclusion for Nora and Patch... and the possibilities of that storyline intrigue me far more than the entirety of ‘Hush Hush’. If there is a sequel I would be interested in reading it.

You really can’t judge ‘Hush Hush’ by its cover (though it is very, very pretty). Though readers know the supernatural outcome from the get-go it’s beyond frustrating to read the female protagonist plod along unawares. And don’t be fooled by the marketing hype proclaiming ‘Hush Hush’ to be the new ‘Twilight’ – fallen angels are not the new vampires and ‘Patch’ isn’t nearly as dignified a leading man name as ‘Edward Cullen’.



  1. Hmmm...I've been in love with this cover and have read some great reviews but have been hesitant to buy because it's difficult for me to get behind a "fallen angel" angle. (Covet was a DNF for me) I may pass on this one or wait until I have no more books in my TBR.

    Nice honest review. The cover is still gorgeous!

  2. I'm passing on this one..even though the cover is whispering pretty things to me. Damn you Patch - stop trying to be Edward ;)

  3. Thanks for the honest review. I have heard extremely mixed reviews on this one, so if I read it, it will definitely be library material for me.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

| More