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Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Whisper Another One of Those Books

(Image from Indiebound)

If you could listen in on people's thoughts, what would you hear? Wishes? Dreams? Secret desires? Truths you wish you never knew? The women in 15-year-old Joy Stefani's family have always been able to Hear. Unlike her older sister, Joy believes in using her ability to do good, to make people happy, to fulfill the simple wants of her friends and family. Jessica (whom everyone calls "Icka"), on the other hand, Listens to people only to hurt them. She doesn't care about fitting in, only about drowning out the Whispers around her with drugs, alcohol and a sneer that keeps even the most intrepid souls at arm's length. Joy's learned to avoid her sister, ignoring her pointed jabs, so when Icka issues her a warning, Joy tries not to let it get under her skin. Except Icka seems to be right - Joy's ability is growing and she may not be able to handle it.

As Joy Listens to the frantic Whispers of her friends in a way she's never been able to before, she's shocked by what she Hears. Do her besties really see her as a people-pleasing doormat who wouldn't recognize an original thought if it landed on her nose? Does her doting grandmother truly think Joy needs to lose 5 pounds? And act more like a lady? For the first time, Joy wishes she didn't have her "gift," didn't have to hear the subtext behind every conversation she has. Is this heightened awareness of everyone's phoniness what turned Icka into such a freak? For the first time since she was a child, Joy needs her sister's advice. Only, Icka's not around. She's supposed to be checking out colleges in downtown Portland, but Joy's worried. The vibes pouring off her big sister are not the kind of hopeful, excited, happy-about-starting-college emotions you'd expect from a 17-year-old, they're anxious and panicked. Terrified.

As frightening as it is to tune into all the world's angst, Joy knows she has to immerse herself in the Whispers in order to find her sister. With a surprising ally by her side, she sets off on a journey that will reveal more than she ever wanted to know - about her family, her abilities, and herself.

Whisper, a debut novel by Greek-American Phoebe Kitanidis, is yet another book which intrigued me with its premise, but lost me through poor execution (is it just me, or am I saying this a lot lately?). The idea of Hearing people's thoughts has been done before, of course, but this story seemed to be taking it in a new direction. Still, I didn't feel tons of connect with Joy - who really is a wimpy do-gooder - or any of the other characters. Since the action doesn't rev up until about 3/4 of the way through the book, I found myself yawning through the cast's petty dramas. When Joy finally sets off to find Icka, I reengaged with the story, speeding through pages to see what would happen. Although it all ends on a hopeful note, the ending was a little too saccharine (not to mention far-fetched) for my tastes. Overall, it just wasn't tight enough or original enough or really anything enough to keep me attention. I'm not writing Kitanidis off, as she seems to have potential, but I'm not exactly clamoring for her next novel either.

(Readalikes: a little like Evermore by Alyson Noel and Fallen Angel by Heather Terrell)

Grade: C-

If this were a movie, it would be rated: R for language, some violence and depictions of underrage drinking/drug use.

To the FTC, with love: I received a finished copy of Whisper from the generous folks at Harper Teen. Thank you!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Susan, thank you for stopping by my blog. I am now your newest follower! I am enjoying going through your posts and smiled when I read this one for Whisper because I felt exactly the same way about the book.



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