An electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley for an honest review.
I struggled with ‘The Grove’.
It was fast-paced, contained significant world-building, tied characters together subtly and had sound reasoning for the progression of the plot. It just felt like it was written more for pre-teens than for young adults.
It reminded me of Julia Kagawa’s ‘Iron Fey’ series and Stephanie Meyer’s ‘Twilight’ series – a hidden world, a teenage girl feels something missing in her life, a great destiny awaits, and nothing will ever be the same again.
Unfortunately, I think I have outgrown the stories I loved a decade ago and struggled to feel part of the story of ‘The Grove’.
While Thompson created a realistic home life for Laura, split parents, lots of complaining about cheating ex-husbands, a self-sacrificing Mother and an indulgent uncle – that realism didn’t extend out beyond the limits of the house.
The school dialogue felt forced with stereotypical means girls and a dorky boy thrown in to fill the gaps. A teacher who believes in the supernatural and doesn’t kick up a fuss about a visible disturbed teenager hiding in his classroom or jumping out a window.
I might not be a teenager anymore, but I still find some of the dialogue feels off, as though the slang has been used incorrectly, and it takes me out of the story. Admittedly, I could just be super uncool or might be missing the nuances of the US, but sometimes the conversations between teenagers felt forced.
I also found every conversation with Brell frustrating. He spends two minutes at a time with her, promises to reveal more next time and yet the romance develops in leaps and bounds. It’s hard to enjoy a book when one of the main characters feels two dimensional.
The main reason I struggled with enjoying the book as a whole was the story being unfinished – I hate this trend of developing a story and plan and leaving you hanging in the first book of a series. Personally, the best series have a fully developed first book that could stand alone like Suzanne Collins’ ‘Hunger Games’ or they develop the storyline in more depth so you know where the second book will go like J.R.R Tolkien’s ‘Fellowship of the Ring’.
There is no opportunity for the storyline to mature, for characters to develop or to be truly drawn into the story. I feel like my rating for this story could be a star or two higher if I was able to read it with the rest of the series.
It feels like the beginning of something but more like I read the first three chapters of a manuscript than the first book in a series.