ARC Review: Thin Places by Lesley Choyce

Thin PlacesThin Places by Lesley Choyce
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Release date: August 22, 2017

One day, Declan Lynch, a restless teenager, starts hearing a girl’s voice inside his head. Eventually, he even begins to see her. Though he’s not certain the girl, Rebecca, is real, Declan finds himself falling for her. She shows him visions of places and people he has never seen — places he feels compelled to find in hopes of meeting her.

His quest takes him to County Sligo, Ireland, and its “thin places,” spots where the earth and the spirit world seem almost to touch. His slightly crazy Uncle Seamus takes him in, as Declan’s search has him wondering which world he belongs to — his or the one belonging to a girl who might not even be real.

It is difficult to make up my mind about what I think of this book because it feels too short to even form an opinion. The story is about a boy, Declan, who can hear voices, and one day he hears a girl Rebecca, who urges him to come find her in Ireland. So halfway through the novel, he leaves his life and goes in search of her. He finds her, and she tells why she called him there, and by then the story is pretty much over!

At first, I thought it was the style which had me on edge. Verse is not my favored style of writing (in fact, I have read very few books in verse) but I do see some snippets that make it work. This one didn’t really feel like verse, though, because it just felt prose arranged in a random style that can best be described as ‘without punctuation’. If it was supposed to evoke a sense of magic, I did not feel it. Which is a damn shame, because Irish folklore is like the theme of this story. It tries to reel you in with the magic of the old world and all, but it fails.

Secondly, the romance is pretty much insta-love. He sees her, thinks she is hot, and boom, two verses (paras?) later he is in lurve. So much so that he is willing to go on a foolish quest to find her without any information. Okay, maybe the wandering could have been explored a little more, to bring out the magic of Irish hillside and stuff, or maybe give more character development but nope, he just laments about his failure. Also, it is never explained what and why are the voices in his head – are they all like her, or were they real like her too? There is no world-building in place, and yes, I will hold that against it even in verse!

Lastly, besides the romance, the story doesn’t offer anything else; no characterization, no proper resolution (look I don’t know about you but I like my resolutions to be more than a couple of lines) and no explanation for Declan himself. It evokes themes of loneliness and longing, but doesn’t do much to explore them. I am not angry at this book for taking an one hour of my life, I am just disappointed in the wasted potential of a story that promises so much and delivers little.

Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review from Dundurn, via Netgaley.

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