TEEN LIBRARIAN'S REVIEW:
Becca Fitzpatrick's "Hush, Hush" is a teen / angel high school romance. Heh. I genuinely never thought I'd describe a book with that sentence, but there you go.
First off, kudos on the cover art, which is utterly captivating. I can definitely see why "Hush, Hush" hit the bestseller list its first week out. This might just be the best teen cover I've seen all year. Believe me when I say I see a lot of teen novels!
Nora Grey's new biology partner, Patch, is dark, brooding, mysterious, and possibly dangerous. When Patch starts appearing just about everywhere Nora is — a phys ed baseball game, the local amusement park — she finds herself both threatened and intrigued by his presence. At the same time, weird things start happening around Nora. One night, she hits a ski-masked figure only to have the car's damage miraculously disappear. Similarly, a hooded figure ransacks her room yet, when the police arrive, everything is immaculate. Nora wonders whether Patch is to blame for the eerie occurrences … and, once she spots the deep v-shaped scars on his back, whether he's even human at all.
What works here? The premise of powerful, doomed angels is a killer one, and it's only enhanced by the spooky, misty Maine coast setting. Throw starcrossed love into the mix, and you really can't lose. The characters have surprising depth, too, especially Nora's force-of-nature best friend, Vee, who regularly and (mostly) unintentionally betrays Nora's best interests to improve their social lives. Such a real teen girl. I also liked Patch, the ultimate good/bad boy, who was sweet and awful and sexy and kind, often all at the same time.
I do have several small pieces of criticism. The first third of the novel, in which Nora constantly reevaulates what she knows about Patch, what she really saw the nights of the accident and break-in, etc., gets repetitive pretty quickly. I realize authors of paranormal novels have to carefully present and then shatter plausible disbelief, but Nora's internal probing became tedious. I also felt cheated upon learning that the true villains in the novel have, at best, cameo roles. It seems unfair to the audience.
But my biggest gripe was the ick factor in the depiction of some of Nora and Patch's encounters. Specifically, I take issue with a girl repeatedly saying no to a guy's advances — even physically distancing herself — only to have the guy keep pushing on. Even worse, there were times when Nora conveyed that she was glad Patch ignored her protests. Now, granted, this never crossed the line into abuse, but I fear the "you don't really mean no" message might be confusing and potentially dangerous for teen readers. And I'm getting off my soap box now. :-p
"Hush, Hush" is brooding, dark, and atmospheric with strong mythology and a potent love story at its center. It will be devoured by teen readers, especially fans of the paranormal. I'd say its themes lend it toward a high school audience, but see what you think. And if you can overlook some of the troubling messages conveyed by Patch and Nora's relationship, I think you'll adore this novel and eagerly anticipate the sequel. As for me, "Hush, Hush" was good but not great.