Part 1: Plotting v. Pantsing

Ashley Townsend

Writing is an Art, I Tell You!

Part 1: Plotting v. Pantsing

WARNING!

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Ah, writers. We can be curious creatures, each having different writing talents and habits as we pound out our creativity on the keyboard, praying that the tangled story that seems just brilliant in our minds will appear on the page with even a modicum of clarity (sometimes with very little success). But to make this curious bag of creative minds a little easier to explain—indie and sci-fi and fantasy and YA and non-fic and historical and middle grade *sucks in a breath*—I have divided the types writers into three general groups.

Types of Writers:

The Plotter

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This type of writer loves to plot out their entire manuscript, in vivid detail, generally before they sit down to write a single morsel. The process of a Plotter involves a lot of organization, forethought, notecards, and perhaps strings linking…

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Fangirl Friday #15…The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey (The 5th Wave #1)

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“The 5th Wave” by Rick Yancey

3 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Goodreads summary:

“After the 1st wave, only darkness remains.
After the 2nd, only the lucky escape.
And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive.
After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother–or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.”

Last week I went to the theater with my sisters to see “The 5th Wave,” and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I ended up liking it. I had not read the book before seeing the movie, so I was kind of a blank slate going into the film; I knew a fair amount about the plot and characters from hearing my sister talk about “The 5th Wave,” but I did not have any expectations going into the movie since I did not yet have an attachment to the story. I ended up having a lot of fun watching the movie, and I am happy that I went into the film adaption of “The 5th Wave” without having read the book because that allowed me to just go along for the ride, instead of picking out the things that did not match up with the book. But after coming out of “The 5th Wave” movie, having fallen in love with Evan Walker and enjoying the character of Cassie, I knew I had to read Rick Yancey’s book!

While reading “The 5th Wave,” I was really grateful that I had seen the movie before I picked the book up, because having the visual details and the seeing the interactions between the characters on screen really helped me to envision everything that happened this book. Rick Yancey, for me, had an almost distancing style of writing that was kind of jarring at first, and he was not very descriptive during key moments in this book when I really wanted to see and feel what was happening. Most of the authors I love write stories that feel more consuming and immersive, but despite not having that quality of making me feel as involved in the story as I wanted to be, Rick Yancey’s book was surprisingly addictive; it doesn’t usually happen for me that way, yet “The 5th Wave” somehow made me feel a tiny bit withdrawn, but also like I couldn’t put it down. This book was glued to my hands for an entire evening, and I almost finished it before I had to go to bed, which I have not done in a long time!

I think one of the things that I liked about “The 5th Wave,” besides Evan Walker, was that it reminded me of “The Host” by Stephanie Meyer and an old show from the 1990s called “Roswell.” Science fiction and aliens were my two favorite things in books for quite a few years, and it wasn’t until just a little bit ago that I started to branch out beyond the science fiction genre. It was enjoyable to see those old themes that I used to love so much in “The 5th Wave,” and I thought that Rick Yancey did a very good job writing alien and dystopian dynamics, while still making them feel fresh and ready for a new generation of readers. Although I appreciated the elements he used to build his plot line, I was not the hugest fan of Rick Yancey’s writing style.

Rick Yancey had a kind of jarring, and at times, disjointed writing style that made me feel a little withdrawn from the story and its characters. It took me until about the halfway point in “The 5th Wave” to get used to his style, and once I did, I had a lot more fun reading it. Despite getting used to this book’s writing style and enjoying its addictive quality, I still struggled to care for some of the characters because of how distant I felt from them.

Cassie had a very intense and slightly grating perspective to read from, but honestly, I could not blame her too much for being that way because of everything she had been through. Cassie was a survivor and I admired that about her, but the way Rick chose to write her reactions and thoughts towards different situations and people in “The 5th Wave” made for a more aggressive and cold perspective to read from, which did not always make for the most enjoyable or compelling voice to read from. I think one of the reasons why I liked the movie version of this book so much was that Chloë Grace Moretz portrayed a more pleasant version of Cassie, and watching Chloë display all of the traits of Cassie’s character made me understand and feel more compassionate towards her and the loss she had endured, and I really appreciated that. I did admire, regardless of the movie, how much of a survivor Cassie was, and how determined she was to find and save her brother. I found the journey she went on to find her brother to be really interesting and it kept me reading, despite the fact that I was not the hugest Cassie fan, and once Evan Walker came in, I felt like “The 5th Wave” got WAY more interesting and dynamic.

Yeah, I might be a little bit in love with Evan Walker’s character.

Every time Evan was present, it felt like the writing in this book got better and its story line became more interesting. Part of that’s me just caring for Evan a lot more than the other characters in “The 5th Wave,” but I also think that something clicked in this book when Evan showed up and started helping Cassie; it just felt like he made this whole book feel like it was more, and he truly added SO much to this story. Cassie had a pretty harsh/intense perspective to read from, but when Evan showed up, his sweetness, his kindness, even his loneliness, made this book have so much more depth, and his presence also provided an opportunity for Cassie to show more than anger towards the life she had because of the Others’ coming. I was truly moved by Evan as a character, and my shipper heart just loved/loves this character SO much!

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“The 5th Wave” was an interesting and fast paced book, but when Evan Walker was present, it became a more dynamic and engrossing read. Evan was such an amazing and interesting character in this book, and I also really loved what they did in the movie with his character, and the actor who played Evan did a great job making all of his qualities come across on the big screen. I think the only thing that was disappointing about “The 5th Wave” movie concerning this character was that they skipped a few really great scenes that were in the book, and I wish that they had been in the film. I would have gladly sat through another twenty minutes of “The 5th Wave” just to get some extra time with Evan! I think the only problem with Evan Walker being such an amazing character was that I desperately wanted for the rest of the book to just be about Evan and Cassie as they searched for her brother, and that made the perspective changes a little disappointing.

Zombie, or Ben Parish, was not necessarily a bad character, but I just read through his sections of “The 5th Wave” in order to get to Evan and Cassie, which is not a good mindset to be in when you’re supposed to get to know a character. Even while watching the movie, I was anxious to get back to Cassie and Evan, despite the fact that the actor who played Zombie did a great job, and that feeling of wanting to move through his scenes faster definitely did not change for me while reading this book. Zombie might have had an even rougher perspective to read from because of his being in such a harsh environment, and he was also quite bitter and vengeful due to everything that he had been through. All of that was understandable, but his were not my favorite sections of this book. There were a few interesting moments during Zombie’s parts of “The 5th Wave” that built the plot a bit more, but even then, all I really wanted from this book was for it to just shift back to Cassie and Evan.

Overall, I thought that “The 5th Wave” was a very fast paced and addictive read, despite the fact that I was not the hugest fan of Rick’s writing style. It was very enjoyable to read an alien science fiction book, and it had a pretty interesting plot that was well thought out, whether it be in book or movie form. What really kept me reading, though, was Evan and his interactions with Cassie, and I thought that those sections of “The 5th Wave” made this book come together and become a more likable story. Honestly, I would have been happy for this book to be another hundred pages or the movie twenty or thirty minutes longer just to get more time with Evan!

The book or the movie?

I definitely feel like the movie was a 4 1/2 to 5 star movie for me because, although it wasn’t a perfectly done film, I had so much fun watching it, and I fell in love with the actors’ portrayals of the characters. I also felt like the movie did a great job of drawing real emotion from me during some of the really key moments in it, and I liked that a lot about the film because the book never made me feel emotionally invested unless Evan was involved. Personally, I think that “The 5th Wave” was more of a 3 1/2 out of 5 star book for me due to the slightly jarring and disjointed style of writing and how overbearing some of the characters were at times, and it was actually the dynamic between Evan and Cassie that kept me reading it. It’s an odd and unexpected choice for me, but I ended up liking the movie more than the book this time, despite the fact that it was missing a few great scenes between Evan and Cassie.

Les Petits Bonheurs #2…

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“After all, every story has a story.”

“I’m a fool for the rain.”

“And he smiled a smile to shame the sun.”

—“The Wrath and the Dawn” by Renée Ahdieh.

I did not love “The Wrath and the Dawn” the first time I had read it. I had adored Khalid and Jalal, and had massively enjoyed the way Renée told her story; the elegant lushness of her writing was amazing, even unforgettable in its own way. The one thing that I had not been a fan of, however, was Renée’s heroine, Shazi, and that had stopped me from falling head-over-heels in love with “The Wrath and the Dawn” the first time I had read it. After a little time and some persuasion on my sister’s part, I bought it (again) and started reading it with fresh eyes and a new perspective. After reading it a second time, I was completely lost to Renée Ahdieh’s words, her world, and her characters, and I even ended up liking Shazi a lot more. Take two was amazing and enjoyable because I got so much more from the truly heartfelt story that was told in “The Wrath and the Dawn,” and just this past month I reread it again.

Sometimes I wonder how it is that certain books can get even better the more you read them? “The Wrath and the Dawn” is one of those rare stories that you can read twenty times and still draw just as much emotion from it as the first time you read it, while also having the personal history with the characters, which somehow makes it even better.*sighs* I am in love with Renée’s book, and I am currently saving up for the French translation of “The Wrath and the Dawn” because it’s gorgeous and, well, I can’t own two copies in English

If you love elegant, lush writing and vividly imagined characters, you should definitely give “The Wrath and the Dawn” a read!

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken (Passenger #1)

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“Passenger” by Alexandra Bracken

3 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Goodreads summary:

passage, n.
i. A brief section of music composed of a series of notes and flourishes.
ii. A journey by water; a voyage.
iii. The transition from one place to another, across space and time.

“In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them— whether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are play­ing, treacherous forces threaten to sep­arate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home . . . forever.”

I have been having some trouble lately finding books to love where the characters feel as amazing and compelling as the plot they play into. Sadly, “Passenger,” despite its interesting time-travel and promising historical aspects, did not have the most engaging characters for me, and they felt a little lackluster to me while I was reading this book. “Passenger” was a good read, I just did not personally connect with this story’s characters, and I know I’m the odd girl out there in the reading and blogging spheres because of my feelings towards this book. *whispers* I’m sorry…

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Now, please, don’t get me wrong. I thought “Passenger” was a well-written book and that it had an interesting twist on time-travel, which I have not seen before in young adult fiction; it actually may not have been all that original, but for me it was a new take on this type of science fiction. I think that my main issue about this book was the fact that I did not feel like I knew the characters all that well by the end of it, and it was an odd feeling, reading and wanting to invest in the story, but not being able to because Etta and Nicholas felt so distant. I don’t really know how to describe in words the feeling of reading a book and falling into it, falling for its characters and world, and then coming back to the real world “changed.” I know it sounds weird, but I think that a lot of avid readers just understand the feeling of that meeting point with the book(s) that changed their perspectives from that point onward; it’s an amazing experience going into a book and discovering characters who you understand right away, or who you get to know along the way and learn to love! Books and their authors who are able to do that stay with me long after I’ve finished reading their words, and it’s as if I have a new arsenal of friends and knowledge after finishing a story that impacts me. But with “Passenger,” there was not much for me to get caught up in because I did not quite connect with the heart of the story, and I was left feeling like I did not know who the characters were by the end of this book.

Etta was a fine female character. I liked that she was a spunky but sweet heroine, and she reminded me at times of Anna from Wendy Higgins’s “Sweet Series,” although I liked Anna a bit more. Etta was a good heroine and she showed some great character growth during “Passenger,” but I did not find anything that made her a particularly impacting protagonist who would stick with me after I put this book back on a shelf. She was a good character with an enjoyable voice to read from in this book, and I appreciated the fact that she was a kind and sweet heroine, but once I walked away from reading this book, I felt like she just faded into the background with some of the other female characters. It made me sad that I personally did not connect with Etta, but I did find Nicholas’ perspective to be a bit more dynamic and interesting than Alexandra’s heroine.

Nicholas definitely had the more engaging perspective to read from, despite Etta’s still being pleasant. Nicholas had lived an extremely rough life and was still dealing with being under Ironwood’s tyrannical rule when Etta came into his life. His perspective, his past experiences, definitely made “Passenger” a more interesting book, even though I was not completely absorbed in it, and I loved the relationship he had with his adoptive father and Davy Chase, who was like a brother to him. I just wished for this character’s sake that Alexandra Bracken would have spent more time on Nicholas’s ship in her book because I think that it would have lent a lot to his character and helped me to get to know him better. I knew all of the facts about him and his past, but what I really wanted while reading “Passenger” was to see Nicholas in his own element for a longer period of time. The sea was a part of who Nicholas was and spending only a seventy-five to a hundred pages in that environment seemed to stunt this character’s potential for stealing my heart as a reader. Nicholas was a great character and I really liked him, but I felt like, despite all the facts I was given concerning him, I did not know him as well as I wanted to.

Another thing that I was not a fan of in”Passenger” was its timeline. I was adding up the days that Etta was with Nicholas during their adventure, and the most time it could have taken course over would be sixteen to seventeen days, if even that. Maybe I’m just nitpicking here, but I thought that Etta and Nicholas’s relationship escalated a little to quickly from non-existent to completely dedicated and in love over the course of about a hundred pages, which was equal to about a week together. It took until page 300 onward for Alexandra to have them explore the romance, and I would have really appreciated that passage of time book-wise if it had taken more than a week and a half for them to fall in love. I was into the romance building in those first three-quarters of this book, but I was sad that all of a sudden, after those last hundred pages, they were madly in love; it wasn’t insta-love, but it just came like a tidal wave, flooding the pages of this book in the last quarter of it, and I was not the hugest fan of that.

The other thing that kept me from rooting hardcore for their romance was that I did not feel like I knew Etta or Nicholas as much as I wanted to; I had all the facts about their personalities, their hopes and fears, but I didn’t feel like I knew them as a couple. The fast-moving romance of “The Broken Stars” by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner took place over only two weeks, a shorter time frame than in “Passenger,” but I left that book feeling like I understood and knew who the characters were, together and apart, and that made a world of difference for me. The romance in “Passenger” was not technically insta-love, but I felt a bit unsettled by the feeling of knowing very little about these two characters after having spent so much time with them.

I hate being the person who does not care for a book that most people believe is perfection, not because I want to be agreeable to everyone, but because it seems like I’ve missed out on something. Maybe I did miss out on something, but for me, “Passenger” was not my favorite book. Alexandra Bracken is a talented writer, and I enjoyed the time-travel aspects of her book and the historical elements that were woven into it, but I just felt a little too distant from the characters to be completely invested in her book. I have a feeling that six months to a year down the road, I will pick “Passenger” back up to read and that I will end up enjoying it a lot more the second time around; there are just some book that are that way for me (“These Broken Stars” was actually like that for me), so it will be interesting to see something that time can only tell. For right now, though, I thought “Passenger” was well-written book that had an interesting take on time-travel and wonderful/heartbreaking historical elements that added a lot to the story, it just was not for me (for right now).

Defying Shadows Cover Reveal!!!

This cover is so cool!

Ashley Townsend

Remember when I promised you an incredible, jaw-dropping cover for Defying Shadows that would have you swooning and ahhhhing? You’re in luck, because Lisa of the Elegant Stylus had my jaw dragging the floor yesterday as we tweaked and added the final elements to the front and back covers of Defying Shadows. It’ll be up on Goodreads soon, but I wanted to make a big to-do about it before the rest of the world gets eclipsed by its beauty. It is seriously spectacular, and you all haven’t even seen the back cover yet, which will be viewable soon enough, my eager group of Shadows! This final installment in the series has been a long time in the making and was created during some difficult times. But let me tell you, Sarah and Will’s story has been a joy through it all, and I hope when it comes out, you’ll find…

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Les Petits Bonheurs #1…

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“Life is full of little pleasures.”

I think that one of the lovely things about the French word ‘bonheurs’ is that it can be translated to mean ‘happiness,’ which is more traditional, or ‘pleasure’ in certain circumstances. The translation of ‘little pleasures’ sounds more elegant, but I like the idea of observing the ‘little happiness-es’ that come my way in life or are already in it. For me, that basically means enjoying a strong cup of coffee and the books I already own while I await the release of new books. 😉 There’s also nothing quite like catching up with friends after not being able to chat for a long time.

P.S. I am going to apologize in advance for the future French quotes and sayings that I will be posting, but I have to put my last and current semester of French to good use at some point…

Thanks for visiting my blog today, and I hope you have a lovely week!

These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

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“These Shallow Graves” by Jennifer Donnelly

4 out of 5 stars.

Goodreads summary:

“Jo Montfort is beautiful and rich, and soon—like all the girls in her class—she’ll graduate from finishing school and be married off to a wealthy bachelor. Which is the last thing she wants. Jo secretly dreams of becoming a writer—a newspaper reporter like the trailblazing Nellie Bly.

Wild aspirations aside, Jo’s life seems perfect until tragedy strikes: her father is found dead. Charles Montfort accidentally shot himself while cleaning his revolver. One of New York City’s wealthiest men, he owned a newspaper and was partner in a massive shipping firm, and Jo knows he was far too smart to clean a loaded gun.

The more Jo uncovers about her father’s death, the more her suspicions grow. There are too many secrets. And they all seem to be buried in plain sight. Then she meets Eddie—a young, brash, infuriatingly handsome reporter at her father’s newspaper—and it becomes all too clear how much she stands to lose if she keeps searching for the truth. Only now it might be too late to stop.

The past never stays buried forever. Life is dirtier than Jo Montfort could ever have imagined, and the truth is the dirtiest part of all.”

It has been a really long time since I have deliberately picked up a mystery novel. Most good stories all have an element of mystery or surprise to them, because that’s what keeps us on our toes as readers, but this time I chose to read a novel solely based on the fact that I wanted to see a crime or mystery solved. Between its promising plot and Victorian era setting (historical fiction is a weakness of mine), “These Shallow Graves” appeared like it would be a very enjoyable read; its cover did not hurt in the appeal of reading it, either. I was beyond pleased when I began reading this book and found it to be more than just a pretty cover and a promising summary, and it ended up being a very interesting and well-written story.

Jennifer Donnelly started her book off in the fast lane with Josephine receiving the news that her father had died, and I liked that “These Shallow Graves,” which was a lengthier novel, did not take a hundred or so pages to get to the moment that sent the heroine on her quest. I also thought that Jennifer Donnelly made a good choice in using a style of writing that felt more true to the time period because it helped to develop and round out the late 19th century setting in which Jo lived. My only problem with the setting of “These Shallow Graves” was that I had read Megan Shepherd’s “The Madman’s Daughter” trilogy before it.

“The Shallow Graves” was a very well-written and well thought out novel, but I had a hard time not flashing back to Megan’s books due to the Victorian era setting and seeing some similarities between the subject matter in the two authors’ books. Both Megan and Jennifer wrote heroines dealing with the social and economical constraints that were put on women during that time period, they were both trying to uncover secrets that led to costly truths, and they both lived in large cities with dark underbellies. Josephine and Juliet read differently as heroines, but there were definitely quite a few parallels that could be drawn between their two stories, and I think my problem with “The Shallow Graves” was that it lacked the immersive quality that the “The Madman’s Daughter” trilogy possessed. The balls, clothing, mystery, and romance were all written so vividly by Megan Shepherd, and she completely drew me into her story. But with “These Shallow Graves,” it felt like it lacked a certain haunting quality and descriptiveness to its writing style, despite the heavier themes in it, and I was not as drawn into this novel’s story as I had hope I would be. This novel was still very well-written, but I felt a little withdrawn at times when I had hoped to be passionate about the story and its characters.

Josephine, or Jo, was a good female character. I did not connect with Jo as much as I had hoped I would, but I did admire and appreciate the fact that a high society girl cared about the people outside of her little blue blood circle, and that she wanted to write to bring awareness to the issues plaguing her city. There were times, however, when I made a few eye rolls and slapped my forehead because of something Jo had done. During those moments, I wanted to say, “Use your head, honey,” but after considering the time period and that street smarts were little known to ladies, let alone those belonging to the upper classes, I allowed those foolish moments slide in my head while reading “These Shallow Graves.” Jo was a sweet character and she experienced a lot of growth as an individual over the course of this book, which was nice. One of the things that did bother me a little bit about this character, though, was how easily and quickly she fell for Edward Gallagher. I didn’t buy it, but we’ll get to that part of this review in a little bit.

Eddie Gallagher was a pretty interesting character, and I liked the fact that he was a journalist. I did feel like I had a hard time getting to know Eddie as a character, and for the first half of “These Shallow Graves,” he felt a little vague and shapeless; Jennifer Donnelly described his physical traits well (brown hair, blue eyes, etc.), but I did not feel that he had a definitive shape or feeling to him. It was hard at first to see what made Eddie, well, Eddie, and as the story progressed, I kind of just envisioned another character who I knew quite well and was a journalist like Eddie. Brodi and Brock Thoene have written tons of historical novels, and my favorite series that they wrote had an amazing character named John Murphy in it. I think having Murphy in my head while reading this book helped me to see a better outline of who Eddie was by the middle of “These Shallow Graves,” and then by the second half of it, I felt like Jennifer had developed him a little bit better. By the second half, I could see that Eddie had a good heart despite his rough past, and even though I did not like their romance, I appreciated how much he cared for Jo and wanted her to be safe.

In all honesty, I wish that there hadn’t been a romance between Eddie and Jo, that the two of them could have just been two kindred spirits who forged a friendship because of what they went through together. Both Eddie and Jo wanted to write about the truth, to make a difference in the world, and I would have loved it if the society girl and the up-and-coming journalist had become just good friends. Sadly, I did not get what I wanted in that department.

I think that Jennifer Donnelly had Eddie and Jo “fall in love” and start their romance too soon in this book. The bulk of “These Shallow Graves” took place over the course of about three months, the most time passing during the latter half of it. Eddie and Jo had barely started their investigation, and had yet to discover anything vital to uncovering the details of her father’s death, when they started their romance around page 140. “These Shallow Graves” was a nearly 500 paged book, so to me that seemed a little too early to get all doe-eyed when neither of them had spent much time together. There was no tension, suspense, or intrigue to their romance because they fell for each other so soon, and I was a bit frustrated by that since they did not know anything about the other to fall in love with; to truly love someone, you have to know them, who they are, and love them flaws and all. I guess I did not buy into the romance because of that, and I had a hard time rooting for their relationship since I did not really know who they were at that point in this book.

Despite the slightly lackluster romance, I did end up liking “These Shallow Graves.” Jennifer Donnelly did a great job of keeping me reading, even when little was going on in Jo’s monotonous blue blood world, and although it was weightier novel, “These Shallow Graves” was a fast read. I did find while reading that I was able to predict most of its plot pretty early on, but instead of being bored because I knew who was bad or what would happen, I appreciated Jennifer Donnelly’s pacing and the times she chose to reveal small details of the mystery to keep her story moving.

Overall, I enjoyed reading “These Shallow Graves” by Jennifer Donnelly, and I thought it was a well-written novel that was wrapped up quite nicely by its end. As much as I enjoyed reading “These Shallow Graves,” I would definitely recommend to anyone who wants to read this book to stick it through to the second half because that was when the characters felt a little more grounded and the plot started to develop and pick up steam. The thing that really made me like this book actually turned out to be the ending itself: slightly bittersweet but quite hopeful. The ending felt final, yet full of possibilities, and I really liked that. “These Shallow Graves” was more of a 3 ½ star book for me, but between its second half and the ending, I am going to round it up to a 4 star book.