Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Line: Intriguing Premise, (Slightly) Disappointing Execution

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Rachel Quillen has lived beside the Line her entire life. She's heard whispers about the invisible, uncrossable barrier that surrounds The Unified States - she knows strange creatures live on the other side, including a dangerous brand of subhumans known as the Others. Rachel's been warned away from the Line all her life. She knows she shouldn't, but she wonders what it's like over there, what would happen if she dared to cross. It's not like she has anything to do (except tend orchids) or anyone to talk to (except her mother, crabby old Ms. Moore and quiet Jonathan) or anything at all going on in her insipid little life. Surely anything is more exciting than spending every waking hour at The Property just waiting for something to happen.

Then, something does happen. Rachel finds an old-fashioned tape recorder, out of which comes a garbled voice pleading for help. It's not the call of a monster, but of a human. From the other side. As Rachel scrambles to find out who - or what - is out there in the vast plains of Away, she discovers that the three adults on The Property know a lot more about the Line than she ever suspected. The paranoid U.S. government has spies everywhere - even whispering about Away can get you arrested - but Rachel has to know. What's on the other side of the Line? Who is over there begging for her help? Does she dare aid the stranger? Or does the plaintive voice belong to a monster trying to trick his way into her country? Can she make sense of it all before it's too late to save anyone?

Ever since I first saw The Line by Teri Hall mentioned in the book blogosphere, I've been eager to get my hands on it. The premise intrigued me right away. Its execution, however, was slightly disappointing. Only slightly, though. It's not a long novel, but the story builds slowly, only reaching pageturner speed in the last 1/3 of the book. TMI (especially concerning politics) bogs down the pacing, although Hall includes some nice, creepy atmospheric scenes that make up for the duller portions of the story. In the end, I thought the book was just okay. I'll definitely read the sequel (Away, to be published in early 2011), but I'm not going to be holding my breath in anticipation. For this one, I can wait.

(Readalikes: Reminds me a little of the Gone series by Michael Grant)

Grade: B-

If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG for tense moments/scenes of peril

To the FTC, with love: Another library fine find

7 comments:

  1. You hit the nail right on the head. I'll definitely read the sequel, but will have absolutely no problem waiting for it. Everything moved so slowly in the plot and the characters just seemed to have no life in them.

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  2. Hey,

    Love the blog, so thought I'd pass a couple of awards on...

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  3. I'm a little sad it wasn't *amazing* but I still can't wait to read it. :-)

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  4. I agree too. Nice premise, but it just didn't grab me the way I wanted it to. I have a review of this one coming up next week.

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  5. This novel sounds like something I might enjoy, but I'm not sure. In a story like this, pacing is really important.

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  6. I really wanted to read this and was chomping at the bit to get it... but now I think I can stand to wait! the Line will have to go back to the end of the line in my TBR list :)

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  7. I just read Becky's review of this book and between yours and hers, it sounds like a book that just didn't hold up.

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