Saturday, September 5, 2009

Hush Hush

Hush Hush
Author: Becca Fitzpatrick
Simon & Schuster, 2009
400 pages [advanced reading copy]

This is my second Barnes & Noble First Look reading club book in a row. (I just signed up for my third one!) Hush Hush is a Young Adult paranomal romance novel to be released October 13. New author Becca Fitzpatrick says it took her five years to write. In fact, the original title was Eclipse, but another very well-known YA book by that same name was published first, so she had to change it.

Hush Hush focuses on Nora Grey, a level-headed (some might say "goody two-shoes") sixteen year-old living on a farm in Maine who seems destined for an Ivy League education and an easy life. But Nora's world is far from perfect; her father was mysteriously murdered sometime in the last year, and her mother's demanding job requires a lot of time away from home. This demands a certain independence on the part of Nora, and she lives up to everyone's expectations. At least, until Patch comes along.

Patch is the black-wearing, pool-playing, motorcycle-driving bad boy who ends up as Nora's lab partner in science class. At first, Nora doesn't appreciate the sudden change of lab partner (previously, that position was held by her best friend, Vee) and Patch doesn't want to cooperate on the latest class assignment. They have a strange aversion-attraction to each other. Patch seems to know everything about Nora, but is tight-lipped about his past -- as if he has something to hide. But what?

Nora begins having unsetting "visions": a man wearing a ski mask, falling from an amusement part ride, a break-in at her house . . . but nothing actually happens. She thinks someone is following her, so one day she and Vee swap outerwear - and Vee gets attacked. Later, her arch-enemy is attacked, shortly after she and Nora have had a public argument. Who would do something like this? Vee blames Patch. But Nora, well, she's not sure.

Vee is a loud-mouthed, in-your-face character who is in Yang to Nora's Yin. The dialogue involving Vee is often funny and clever. But Vee is more than a sidekick - more than comic relief. She warns Nora away from Patch, but at the same time finds herself drawn to a boy who may well be involved in a crime that took place at his old school in Portland. 

There are "demons" in this book, but this is primarily a book about angels: fallen angels, guardian angels, avenging angels, and Nephilim characters will be revealed. I don't think I'm saying too much here given the cover art. There's plenty of action, and a little romance (rated PG, of course . . . I mean, it's a YA novel). I was so engaged, I stayed up until 4:00 AM to finish the book, and bit off all my nails in the process. 

A YA book wouldn't be a YA book without a snobby cheerleader type, and Hush Hush does indeed have one of those. It also has clueless parents, teachers who are trying to be cool, and other mysterious characters whose actions foreshadow their appearance in future books. A sequel to Hush Hush is already in the works. Titled Crescendo, it's set to be released sometime next Fall. I'm guessing there will be lots of teenage girls - and some older girls, also - who'll be eagerly anticipating its release, because I think Hush Hush is going to do for angels what Twilight did for vampires.  

Rating: 4.25 stars - great effort from this first-time author.