Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Shallow Graves by Kali Wallace

Title: Shallow Graves
Author: Kali Wallace
Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books
Release Date: January 26, 2016
Rating: 3/5

The Gist:
When seventeen-year-old Breezy Lin wakes up in a shallow grave one year after her death, she doesn’t remember who killed her or why. All she knows is that she’s somehow conscious—and not only that, she’s able to sense who around her is hiding a murderous past. In life, Breezy was always drawn to the elegance of the universe and the mystery of the stars. Now she must set out to find answers and discover what is to become of her in the gritty, dangerous world to which she now belongs—where killers hide in plain sight and a sinister cult is hunting for strange creatures like her. What she finds is at once empowering, redemptive, and dangerous.

Shallow Graves features a new and interesting concept of the dead.  Breezy is dead, or undead, but not in the 'must have braiiiiiiiiiiins' fashion that has become so popular in fiction today.  She seems just like a regular girl, she just can't die.  And believe me, she has tried.  One of my favorite parts of this book featured Breezy's lists, one of which was her list of ways in which she has tried to die including drowning, shooting and crashing head-long into a tree.  The writing style worked well and Breezy is a great new voice.

I love seeing diversity in main characters and Breezy ticks a lot of boxes; she is a Chinese, bisexual teenage girl who loves Science and was obsessed with being an astronaut.  I really felt her pain as she lamented the fact that her one ambition in life was now off limits despite the fact that she was now perfect for the job - no need to eat or breathe and apparently indestructible.  It was also really interesting to read as she tried to apply her analytical mind to the new task at hand - namely figuring out this new world and finding out why she isn't dead.

Shallow Graves does not follow down the traditional path of distracting from the plot with an ill-fitting love interest.  There is a boy, there is potential with the boy, but neither of them seems interested in pursuing that at the moment.  There is also an underlying thread that makes social commentary on the issues of slut shaming and victim blaming.  I loved that Breezy was self and socially aware enough to recognize how differently her life (and death) would have been if she had been a teen boy murdered rather than a girl and these sections come off as thought-provoking, rather than preachy.

Unfortunately, not everything in this story worked quite as well as it could have.  The author chose a non-linear manner of storytelling which worked in parts, but other times was strange and confusing.  There are two main mysteries and neither of them ends particularly strongly.  I was particularly disappointed in the reveal of who killed Breezy.  I was hoping for one of those 'oh my god, no way?!' moments, but it just fell a little flat and felt frustrating.  The other storyline featured a big baddie who, rather than being defeated, was merely contained.  This made the book feel like the first in a series, though that doesn't appear to be the case, and I didn't like that ambiguousness. 

Bottom Line: A fun book with an interesting new character.  Wish it was a series though....