Note: I was able to receive this advance copy through Netgalley for review.
I read the synopsis for Placid Girl by Brenna Ehrlich and I knew I wanted to read it. The concept of the novel was new to me and I’ve been stuck in a reading rut filled with young adult formula fantasies. I needed something out of the box, and I sure got it.
This book is a young adult novel and it’s hard to put it in any other category. It’s supposed to be realistic fiction with some mystery and thriller aspects thrown in, but I wouldn’t exactly call it realistic. More about that in a bit.
As I stated before, the premise of the novel is something I haven’t really seen before. Hallie, a sixteen year old drummer in a punk rock band, tends to fade in the background of her life. Her best friend Sarah, the lead singer of the band, is prettier, more confident, and likes to take control. When Hallie begins to receive messages from what appears to be her favorite reclusive musician, she can’t help but be ecstatic that he is noticing her and not her pink-haired best friend. She is willing to do anything to make it to Haze’s reunion show and find out once and for all if Haze is truly the one behind the messages. Her journey there, however, will risk not only her own life, but of the lives of those she loves.
Plot Development: 3/5
The execution of the concept of the novel threw me. For the first third of the book, it was realistic and I could relate to the characters. When things started to turn sour for Hallie and her friends, it quickly became less and less realistic to me. I don’t want to reveal any spoilers because this book hasn’t been released yet, but personally, I think there were too many twists and turns. There was so much going on that it became too hard for me to suspend my disbelief. It was hard enough for me to believe everything that was happening to the young teenagers, let alone their reactions. The suspense, however, kept me hooked and wanting to see what would happen next.
While going through a whole lot of crazy stuff, the characters in this novel didn’t seem to go through a lot of personal growth. At least, it didn’t come across that way to me, the reader. At the beginning of the novel, Hallie is okay with fading into the background. This definitely changes throughout the novel and the progression is smooth. Sarah, her best friend, also experiences a little bit of change in that she begins to respect Hallie’s feelings a bit more than she used to. This seemed a bit forced in my opinion. Overall, there was some character development in a couple of characters, but not a whole lot.
Writing Style: 2/5
There were really only two things that bothered me about the writing, but they bothered me greatly throughout the entire novel. First, it was hard for me to read a lot of the passages. Sentences were long and rambling, written with hyphens to separate trains of thought. I realize that Hallie thinks this way, with long pauses and little side-explanations. My issue is that it happened much too frequently, sometimes three or four times in one paragraph. I had to reread passages, which interrupted the flow of the book. Secondly, certain uncommon words were repeated throughout the entire novel and stuck out to me like a sore thumb. By the end, I started laughing every time I read the word “undulate.” Other than these two (personal) issues, I thought the book was very well written.
This book is Young Adult, but I don’t see myself recommending teenagers to read this novel. If I were to recommend this to someone, I would have to hand select the teen based on maturity. There was a lot of foul language and some of it seemed senseless to me. There were countless f-words and even a few c-words. As an educator, this wouldn’t be on my shelf for students to read. It’s not that I don’t think teens do not talk like this; I just think the language could have been toned down and the dialogue would still have been effective.
Total Score: 15/25, avg. 3/5
I give this book three out of five stars. I enjoyed this book. It kept me hooked from beginning to end. I probably would not read this novel again, but I would definitely check out and read other novels written by this author. Thank you for giving me the chance to read this book!