Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Review: Deception by Lee Nichols
Emma Vaile has stopped hearing from everyone she loves—her antiques-collecting parents, her older brother, her best friend—and a supposed friend of hers calls social services on her. To her disbelief, her brother’s best friend, the handsome Bennett Stern, “rescues” her and brings her to his New England mansion, where she enrolls at the elite private school Thatcher.
As Emma makes friends and gets into the flow of private school life, life would be great, were it not for three things: Bennett’s elusiveness, her family’s continued silence, and the disturbing return of her childhood visions. Only this time Emma learns that the visions are actually ghosts, and she can see them because she is a ghostkeeper. As if learning the responsibility for her new role isn’t enough, Emma also needs to juggle high school, a romance that could kill her, and an otherworldly being with the terrifying power to possess and even kill humans.
There are some book synopses I really, really hate, and this book had one of them. It mentions private schools, absent parents, a hot preppie guy, and the eerie paranormal (insert spooky sounds here). How utterly mundane. Can we get a “hasn’t this setup been done before?”
What the synopsis fails to mention, however, is just how smart, interesting, and different DECEPTION is from the rest of the pack. DECEPTION is an entertaining, funny, and touching read that had me caught up in a fictional world I normally don’t take to.
After an admittedly bumpy start, DECEPTION brings us Emma Vaile—smart, sassy, strong, romantic—and an equally lively and engaging cast of characters. Perhaps this was just my experience, but Emma is not someone you can really relate to: rather, you just really, really want to be her. She handles her bad luck with an appealing modern sensibility that will have you nodding along in agreement to her reactions, decisions, and quips.
Likewise, the other characters are equally strong and memorable. Emma’s school friends don’t feel like hollow shells of what high school students should act and sound like. Instead, they are endearingly flawed, jaded, sweet, irritating—you name the emotion, you’ve probably got it. Bennett, too, is far more than a hot, well-dressed love interest. He has his own deeply rooted passions, insecurities, and worries, too. (And thank goodness, or I might’ve inflicted injury upon the nearest wall.) You could think of reading DECEPTION almost like watching a CW TV show: it’s not exactly realistic, and some of the scenarios are a bit unbelievable, but the dialogue is snappy, the teen actors are top-notch, and you just can’t stop yourself from coming back for more.
I thought that the ghost element of DECEPTION was also very well done, familiar enough to attract readers, but original enough to keep the more critical of us on our toes. The paranormal conflict in this story had depth and history. It is a conflict that spans centuries and dimensions, all in a reasonably believable and definitely enthralling way that I can see smoothly carrying over into future installments.
DECEPTION is a book that defied my expectations. I was expecting clichéd paranormal-romance-mystery drivel; I got an engaging and snarky read with fantastic characterization. Overall, a paranormal mystery read that is a cut above mere wish-fulfillment fun. I will definitely keep an eye out for the sequel.
Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Cover discussion: 1.5 out of 5 - I'm not its biggest fan. Is it a heavily done-up photograph or a drawing? Either way, it says nothing about how kick-ass Emma is.
Bloomsbury / June 8, 2010 / Paperback / 336pp. / $9.99
ARC sent by publisher for review.
Come back soon for an interview with the author, Lee, and a giveaway!