Friday, April 10, 2015

Review: "The Sham" by Ellen Allen

Disclosure: I was provided this ebook via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Title: The Sham
Author: Ellen Allen
Publisher: Ellen Allen
Pub. Date: Dec. 4, 2014

From the publisher --
Eighteen-year-old Emily Heath would love to leave her dead-end town, known locally as "The Sham", with her boyfriend, Jack, but he's very, very sick; his body is failing and his brain is shutting down. He's also in hiding, under suspicion of murder. Six months' ago, strange signs were painted across town in a dialect no one has spoken for decades and one of Emily's classmates washed up in the local floods.

Emily has never trusted her instincts and now they're pulling her towards Jack, who the police think is a sham himself, someone else entirely. As the town wakes to discover new signs plastered across its walls, Emily must decide who and what she trusts, and fast: local vigilantes are hunting Jack; the floods, the police, and her parents are blocking her path; and the town doesn't need another dead body.

I am at a loss as to how to review The Sham. Based on the publisher's description, this book sounded like it was right up my alley. Mystery, strange characters, missing girls -- sounds like a winner. But it wasn't.

My first problem with the book came right in the beginning. There is a very violent and disturbing scene involving teens and violence against a child and an animal. I am not a prudish reader by any stretch, but I am vehemently opposed to writers explicitly describing child abuse and animal abuse. I believe that there were other ways that the writer could have shown the bullying and hateful nature of the teen girls without resorting to a scene like this. Just based on the first chapter alone, I am surprised that this book is considered a YA novel.

The rest of the book was difficult as well, not for the content, but the writing. The writing style was choppy and made the story hard to follow. While I liked the character of Emily (she was well-written and actually came across as a real teenager), the character of Jack is another story. His odd behavior, his disjointed memories -- basically everything about him -- is not believable at all. I realize that Jack's characteristics are a big part of the story, but I felt like he was more of a cartoon than a character. After just a little while, I didn't really care what happened to the characters in the story.

I really, really wanted to like this book. While the elements that I normally love in a story were there, they just didn't come together in a way to make it enjoyable. Did the explicit violence color my opinion? Maybe, but even without that scence, I still don't think The Sham would have my cup of tea.

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