Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Me on Unraveling Isobel
Author: Eileen Cook
Release Date: January 3, 2012
Publisher: Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster imprint)
Isobel's life kinda sucks. Her mom just married some guy she met on the internet, and he's moving them out to his huge gothic mansion on some small island off the coast of nowhere. Goodbye best friend and life, hello icky stepfather, granola town, and off-limits good-looking step-brother. But on her first night, she's wondering if her life isn't the only thing that's unraveling, if maybe it's her sanity as well. Isobel's either losing her mind, like her father did, or she's really seeing ghosts.
Such a welcome mix of a book, mysterious and haunting but still romantic and funny. A main reason I enjoy reading Eileen Cook's novels is because of the humour, and this book is proof that you can add humour to a mystery semi-psycho-thriller of a YA novel without making it seem forced.
Isobel was perfect as an out of place girl shoved into a new environment. She knows what she wants, what she likes, where she fits in at her old school, but stick her in a new one because of her weird stepfather and the rest of the school sees her as fresh meat. And she doesn't care about being popular. If only every teenage girl felt the same way. She just wants to survive and get back to her friend when they go to university.
I loved how it took almost no time for this book to be creepy, how the haunting and the mystery started on Isobel's first night in the half-rotten mansion. No waiting for her to get settled. When was Isobel ever settled in this book? Almost never, maybe except for the moments with her gorgeous step-brother. (They're step-siblings. They just met each other (pretty much). It's not gross. This isn't Forbidden.)
What also drew me in, besides the Gothic mansion and the haunting creepiness and the cute step-brother who was one of those sweet loner guys, was the way the author created confusion with the creepy and Isobel's family history of mental instability. Knowing her father has a mental disorder, knowing she might one day suffer from the same disease, creates that unreliability that keeps the reader interested until the end. Is the mansion really haunted or is Isobel suffering from some kind of hallucination? Is she sane or is her mind turning on her?
Such a refreshing and unique mystery of a book. I was glued to the screen reading every word (I read the e-galley on my e-reader) and never wanted it to end. The world-crafting was great, the character-building was great, the plot was surprising and amazing. I was sad when the book ended. I wanted more. That should be the reaction of every reader when they read a book they loved.
(I found an e-galley of this book in the S&S Galley Grab newsletter. I plan on buying my own copy because I enjoyed it so much.)