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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

ARC Review: Slide by Jill Hathaway

TITLE: Slide                             SERIES: Slide #1
AUTHOR: Jill Hathaway        PUB DATE: 3/27/12
PUB: Balzer + Bray                  FORMAT: ARC, 250 pgs
SOURCE: from pub in exchange for honest review

Vee Bell is certain of one irrefutable truth—her sister’s friend Sophie didn’t kill herself. She was murdered. 
Vee knows this because she was there. Everyone believes Vee is narcoleptic, but she doesn’t actually fall asleep during these episodes: When she passes out, she slides into somebody else’s mind and experiences the world through that person’s eyes. She’s slid into her sister as she cheated on a math test, into a teacher sneaking a drink before class. She learned the worst about a supposed “friend” when she slid into her during a school dance. But nothing could have prepared Vee for what happens one October night when she slides into the mind of someone holding a bloody knife, standing over Sophie’s slashed body. 
Vee desperately wishes she could share her secret, but who would believe her? It sounds so crazy that she can’t bring herself to tell her best friend, Rollins, let alone the police. Even if she could confide in Rollins, he has been acting off lately, more distant, especially now that she’s been spending more time with Zane. 
Enmeshed in a terrifying web of secrets, lies, and danger and with no one to turn to, Vee must find a way to unmask the killer before he or she strikes again. 

THREE WORDS: Intriguing But Predictable

MY REVIEW: I’m a bit conflicted when it comes to Jill Hathaway’s novel Slide. There are things about this book that I really liked, and things that I either didn’t like or kind of disappointed me.

Everyone believes that Sylvia “Vee” Bell is narcoleptic, but she isn’t. Instead of falling asleep when she passes out, Vee slides into someone else, seeing the world through their perspective for a short time. The only person Vee has ever told about her sliding- her father- didn’t believe her, so she keeps her ability a secret, even from her best friend Rollins. But her ability feels more like a curse, especially after sliding into the person who murdered Sophie Jacobs, Vee’s little sister’s BFF. Everyone believes Sophie committed suicide, but Vee knows the truth. So Vee sets out to uncover the identity of the murderer, but this proves difficult as she realizes that more than one person could have had a motive to kill poor Sophie. Things get even more complicated for Vee when she starts to spend time with the new hot guy, Zane and her best friend Rollins starts to act distant.

Slide has a very intriguing and original premise, and I was truly captivated by it. Vee’s sliding ability isn’t one that I’ve ever really read about before, so I found the whole concept refreshing and fascinating. I think Hathaway explores Vee’s sliding ability in a way that gives readers enough information and backstory to understand Vee’s mindset, without burdening readers with too many details or info, and yet, still leaving enough mystery about why and how her ability developed (is it genetic? did Vee’s mom have the same ability? was Vee touched by some supernatural power? Etc) to keep readers enthralled.

Vee is certainly a compelling character, but I did have issues with her development and characterization. Throughout the book, we learn that Vee was once a popular cheerleader and best friends with a girl named Samantha, but after one traumatizing sliding event during sophomore year, their friendship was ruined. Vee then changed- she died her blonde hair pink, she stopped wearing preppy clothes and started wearing Converse shoes and band t-shirts showcasing all the 90’s grunge, alternative and punk bands she started listening to, and she started hanging out with Rollins. To me, Vee’s transformation or rebellion is incredibly cliché. I get that Vee’s character is trying to distance herself from the social group she used to belong to, and perhaps from the girl she once was, but I just feel like having her go down the “look at me-I dyed my hair (insert color)- and now I listen to indie/alt/punk/non-mainstream music-cause I’m such a rebel” road is just unoriginal and kind of over done in YA. And this is coming from someone who pretty much dressed the same as Vee in highschool (honestly, I still dress the same- band t-shirts, Converse, occasionally multi-colored hair and all).

But that’s not to say that I didn’t like Vee’s personality, because I did; she’s quite a complex and emotionally layered character. Hathaway does an excellent job of exploring the emotional and psychological toll Vee’s ability, her mother’s death, her role as caregiver for her sister and her father’s emotional and physical distance has taken out on her. Despite her cliché transformation and choice of rebellion, I did find Vee relatable and likable. And I did like that Vee’s obsession with 90’s music is given a very emotional and touching explanation.

At the core of this novel, I think the story is about relationships- Vee’s relationship with her sister Mattie; her father; Rollins and Zane, Mattie’s relationship with her two BFF’s Amber and Sophie, and others- and I did find myself really invested in several of these various relationships, especially the sister relationship between Vee and Mattie. Vee and Mattie have a very complicated, messy, fragile relationship that I found very believable, realistic, and at times, heart achingly poignant and beautiful.

Rollins and Zane are very different, yet they both give Vee things (in an emotional and mental sense) that she needs. Neither guy wooed me, but I found them interesting enough.

The murder mystery aspect of the story is not without its twists, turns and shocking revelations, but overall, I found the story predictable. I saw most of the major events and revelations (including the identity of the murderer) coming. I enjoyed the ride, but wish the final destination was more of a surprise. There are a lot of interconnecting subplots and stories, and overall, they come together cohesively and without continuity issues.

I do want to mention that I think for some people- those who suffer from depression, self-harm, suicidal thoughts or tendencies- this book may be triggering. The topics of depression and suicide are often treated in a very cavalier manner by characters (students, school officials, police officials), and while I think this reaction to these intense subjects is pretty realistic, it may be too much for some readers.

MY FINAL THOUGHTS: For the most part, I really liked the main character and premise of Slide, but the overall story, with its predictability and clichés, failed to WOW me. But I will certainly be reading the next book in the series. 


3/5 Cupcakes

Find the author: Website / Goodreads / Twitter / Facebook
Purchase: Amazon / B&N / Book Dep
Jill Hathaway lives in the Des Moines area with her husband and young daughter. Having earned her BA in English Education from the University of Northern Iowa and her MA in Literature from Iowa State University, she teaches high school English and dual credit courses for Des Moines Area Community College.  


Maji Bookshelf said...

Im glad you liked this one.. but it wasnt predictable for me :P hehehe! Great review!

Farah @MajiBookshelf

Keegan Shayne said...

Thanks for the insightful review! I also reviewed slide :)

Please check out my review of slide:

And my interview with Jill:

Great Blog!
~Keegan Shayne

Amy said...

So many mixed reviews on this book. I still want to read it, but I have lowered my expectations. Thanks for the great review!

Jillyn said...

I liked this book, but I agree with you. It was definitely predictable at parts.