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Friday, April 15, 2011

Nunes' Hippie Chick Medium Insufferable, But Intriguing

(Image from Indiebound)

Nothing about 33-year-old Autumn Rain is typical - not her looks (her eyes are different colors), not her upbringing (her adoptive parents were hippies), not her views on life (microwaves, shoes, and unorganic food = evil). So, she's not all that surprised when she discovers she can read "imprints," or the memories and strong emotions humans leave behind on treasured objects. Happy imprints, like the ones Autumn feels on the book of poetry her parents wrote for each other, bring her joy. Others are so full of hate, violence and rage that they can bring Autumn to her knees. This ability isn't something she wants, but she knows it can be used for good, if only she can steel herself against its sometimes frightening power.
When a grieving couple comes to Autumn, desperate to find their missing daughter, she feels obligated to help. The images she gets off the girl's necklace are confusing, but they seem to point to a commune in the Oregon wilderness. Although it seems the girl went willingly, something about her imprints makes Autumn uneasy. When a third person comes asking about a missing girl, whose disappearance also seems to be linked to Harmony Farm, Autumn gets imprints so troubling she can't get them out of her mind. She's not one to judge people based on their looks or lifestyles, but she's also not one to let innocent people suffer. Knowing she can't go to the police with only what she sees in her head, Autumn vows to check out the commune herself. Is it the peaceful, idyllic community it claims to be or something much more sinister? Using her special ability, plus her more down-to-Earth detective skills, she's determined to find out.
Of course, not everyone's thrilled about Autumn's interest in what could be a dangerous cult. Her twin sister's terrified, especially since she's "seeing" some weird images herself. And Detective Shannon Martin would, of course, prefer that Autumn keep her nose out of his case. Then there's Jake Ryan, Autumn's best friend, who wants to protect her the way he would a little sister - only sisterly feelings are not at all what she wants from him. Add in a crazy Harmony Farmer, a mesmerizing spiritual leader, and a very alluring math-teacher-turned-private-investigator and Autumn Rain's got more problems than she can handle. Oh, and the three-day fast required of new Harmony Farm recruits means she'll be doing it all on an empty stomach - a very dangerous prospect indeed.
Although I didn't like Imprints by Rachel Ann Nunes as much as I wanted to, I did like it a lot more than I expected to. While mediums are plentiful in fiction and the whole cult investigation plot has been done before, Nunes does a few things that sets Imprints apart. First of all, I found the idea of imprints themselves interesting. The concept's not anything new, but I don't remember ever reading about a heroine who purposely surrounds herself with items that exude happy, positive impressions as a way of blocking out negative ones. I also like the twin aspect of the book - the idea of identical sisters having the same type of talents fascinates me. Also, the fact that Autumn's love interest (well, one of them) happens to be a bi-racial man with a learning disability also intrigues me. He doesn't have a lot of personality other than that, but I at least appreciate that he's different from other leading men. On the flip side, Autumn's so purposely different, she becomes a cliche. She behaves exactly as you would expect a Hippie Chick to behave. And while I don't mind me a flower child character, I detest Autumn, who's an insufferable blend of self-righteous and whiny. My disconnect with the main character, plus the existence of some plot points that were unexplained, unrealistic and unfulfilling, explains why I gave Imprints only an average grade. Still, the novel has enough going on to be interesting, enjoyable and even sequel-worthy. I won't be holding my breath for the next Autumn Rain novel, but you better believe I will be checking it out. Eventually.
(Readalikes: Reminded me a little bit of The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting and The Sight by Judy Blundell)
Grade: C
If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG for violence/frightening situations
To the FTC, with love: I bought Imprints from Deseret Book with some of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger. Ha ha.

1 comment:

  1. I always get so frustrated with books like these! They sound so interesting and then they let you down. And Worse, they make you want to read the rest in the series.


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