Thursday, 27 June 2013

Autumn by Sierra Dean

Autumn (Goodreads) took me through a whole gambit of emotions:  

"What? You can't be serious! This heroine sucks."  
"Man, this book is tense." 
Until finally, 
"No way! It can't be finished. Where's the next book?"  

How's that for a rollercoster ride?

So the heroine sucks, does she? Well yes, to begin with. Lou's dad has recently died of cancer and her mom, having depleted the family coffers caring for him, is forced to move her and Lou to Poisonfoot, Texas, to stay with grandma. And all Lou did for the first part of the book was whinge and whine like an ungrateful teenager. I mean, come on, look at this . . .

"If Eloise (Lou) Whittaker had to narrow down the worst things ever in her life to a list, the top three would go as follows:
3) Uncooked chicken. When it's all, like, pink in the middle? Gross.
2) Her father dying. Which was really tied for number one with  . . . 
1) Moving because her dad died."

Sorry, but that was an epic fail for me. Lou Whittaker had a long way to claw back after those opening lines. So it wasn't with the kindest feelings that I went into her story. But by the time she had gotten to Poisonfoot, had settled in with her weirdo grandmother, and had gone to school where she met Cooper - the hot boy everyone in town warns her against - I was pretty engaged.

I think what saved Autumn for me - at least in the beginning - was Cooper. Now why can't one of my daughters meet a guy like that? He can join us for Sunday lunch anytime.  Okay, okay, I admit he has his problems . . . he's doomed by an old curse to turn into a coyote when he turns eighteen, but still, he's a great guy whom I really ached for as the story unfolded. I would read the sequels just to make sure his life gets sorted out and the curse lifted. In fact, the injustice of his plight has stayed with me long after I put the book down. That counts for something.

But there was something else that really bugged me about this book - the matter of simple teenage psychology. Ask any parent anywhere what happens when you tell a teenager no without backing it up with a concrete reason. Any parent anywhere will tell you that said teenager will - out of sheer bloody-mindedness - ignore you completely and go and do exactly what you told them not to. Well, it seems that not a single adult in Poisonfoot, Texas knows that, because everyone kept telling Lou and Cooper to keep away from each other, but everyone refused to tell them - and us - why. So guess what happened? Yeah, you got that right. So what was the love between them like? To be honest, I've read better chemistry, but I like Cooper so much, I will concede that his love is sweet.

Now about all that tension I mentioned earlier. Trust me, it's there. This book has everything: ghosts, curses, weirdos, magic, and a very creepy town filled with some real odd-ball people. All of it builds up to a whopper of an ending. To be honest, I thought I had the book sussed out: I knew who the good guys were and the bad, and I had the mystery solved until BLAM . . . the ending. I just did not see it coming. Well done, Sierra Dean. You had me biting my nails and then crying out in horror at the outcome. It is a long time since that has happened to me with a book.

So Autumn  . . . would I recommend it?  It's definitely intriguing - well worth a spending an afternoon with. Number of stars: Because of my rocky start with Lou, I will say three.

By the way, I got this book for free of Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


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