February 1st, 2013
Unchanged by Heather Crews
I wanted to write this review before I couldn't remember the events that have happened throughout the book. Unchanged is a Young Adult novel centering around a teenager named Lilly. Through time, she came to realize she has an unlikely connection to a young man named Ahaziel.
I don't know how else to say this, but I just didn't connect with many aspects of the story. I thought the world building was pretty good. I pictured the small city in Oregon I assumed she lived in. The book is short, which I assumed would help with the pacing, but this will probably be the only time I will say this about a novel. Perhaps it would have benefitted being 100 pages longer.
Much of the story felt a bit rushed. I wasn't sure how, outside of the past lives, that the characters connected to each other. Most of the time I couldn't see why they were so attracted to each other. I felt as though their most convincing moment was their implied love scene. The way it was written, I assumed they were intimate beyond just kissing. To be honest, it was tasteful and sweet, and I give it more credit than most YA novels to even acknowledge teenagers go further than kissing.
But outside of that, I just didn't connect to their relationship much. Perhaps if it'd been a wee bit longer, it would have given me a bit more time to understand or even come to like them as a couple, but I just didn't.
Many of the situations I had to think, who would do this? And by this, I mean, let a stranger carry them around in the woods, or seek out a person following you. I think women should be freaked out a little more than Lilly was. That shouldn't be normal behavior for young men.
The backstory was extremely interesting. Lilly experienced past lives, and two parts of the novel is told from two of her past lives. Lilly, I didn't connect with AS much, but I did connect more with her past lives. Perhaps because I expected women 100-200 years prior to the present to be demure, and not expect the worst in men. But I liked the backstory a wee bit more than Lilly's present.
Most books typically have conflict. It's a bit hard to argue with that. I'll give it a quarter point for conflict, but what I will say about the conflict, I didn't connect well with the villain of the story either. Merko was a type of water spirit that kept his immortality through drowning humans and consuming their souls. I think he had the possibility to be more interesting, but he just didn't strike fear in me. And he wasn't a sympathetic antagonist. Not all villains need to be understood, but the best ones to me typically have some ounce of humanity that makes you question what you might do in their situation.
Merko was just ok.
Unchanged excels most through it's grammar. Very few, if any grammatical errors. That is very difficult, even in traditionally published works. My hats tips to the editor of this book, because they did a wonderful job. The writing style works for the story, and the language isn't too choppy or far fetched.
I also found that the POV is very clear. I wasn't confused when the POV's changed, which they did do in past lives, or for brief moments when Ahaziel's POV was present.
Diversity? Hmm...There isn't a ton of diversity. Does a book need to be diverse to be enjoyed? No...but I do get a lot out of seeing diversity written without forcing such. I can connect with any marginalized group so it's just nice to see some form of diversity.
Ahaziel was Siuslaw, a small tribe of Indigenous Americans.
While I found him a bit bland, what I did like what that he wasn't stereotypical. He was just written as a character, not a Native American one. There was no focus on his culture, I suppose he was just written NA.
He was a forest spirit equivalent of Merko, who also had to drown humans to gain souls for immortality.
Im not sure his image was empowering, but at the very least, to me, he seemed attractive. Oregon has a decently sized Native American population, so Im sure that's why he's Native American over perhaps being Latino or Asian.
The cover doesn't captivate me, but I suppose the title is appropriate. The character names are also cool =) I loved Austin and Lilly's brother Brandt. There wasn't a ton of focus on those two characters, but they stood out to me the most. I especially liked that Lilly's brother was typically present in her past lives, and always there for her in each one. Their relationship was very genuine. I like to see close siblings.
I couldn't picture every character, so that was a bit of a setback for me.
Overall, I think the book is well written. I enjoyed it, I think I just didn't connect well with the main characters. I look forward to books from this author in the future. My rating is based more off not connecting with the characters, not so much hating the book.
Dreamcast for the main characters:
Blake Lively as Lilly
Martin Sensmeier as Ahaziel
Luke Bilyk as Merko
Andrew Garfield as Brandt
Gregg Sulkin as Austin