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For those of you who happened to Google your title and ended up here, please know that one star is not a bad thing in Robin's world -- just the fact that I picked up your book and started it means that somewhere it's getting good buzz (or that your blurb was really cool). 'R' means it's a re-read. Different colored font means it's an ARC for 2011 (and I'll try to remember to put the month it's released, as well). I'm linking to Tattered Cover's pages for the ARCs.

If you'd like to see my year-to-date four-plus- and five-star recommendations, visit Robin ReadsnWrites. (just updated, finally)

* I didn't make it beyond the first 20 pages.
** I made it to the end, but I either skimmed or skipped large sections.
*** I might have skipped/skimmed, but I liked it and might read it again.
**** I read at least 95% of the book and it was good -- probably will be reread.
***** I read every word, and I loved it! A favorite and definite reread.

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Hourglass, by Myra McEntire ***+ So this was very intense (thus the middling) -- I'm very impressed with how the author creates the intensity practically from the first page. It got to the point where I had to skim because it was almost too intense for me. This doesn't mean I didn't like it -- and now that I know about it, I'll wait until I'm in an intense mood and pick it up again (because I want to read it more thoroughly). The story: Emerson has struggled since her parents' deaths (and even a little before) with seeing people who aren't quite there, but they don't appear to be 'normal' ghosts, either. If Emerson tries to touch them, they dissipate. Her much older brother took her in, and now she's living with him and his wife -- but he's not content to leave her to her mental struggles, and he's hired yet another 'expert' to help her. The expert, Michael, brings about a reaction in Emerson she never expected, and before long, he's drawn her into his organization (Hourglass), and she's experiencing things she never thought possible -- and the mysteries are only beginning. (YA paranormal/suspense, released 7/11, publisher: Egmont USA)

It's rare that I read a book which such intensity. I don't think that's on purpose, though it's true that I often am not in the mood for super intense stories. But as I read it, I kept wondering what made this book so different from so many others as far as intensity is concerned.

Yes, the MC had issues right off the bat (but that isn't so unusual).

Yes, there was tension because you don't know exactly what's going on with her 'ghost seeing.'

Yes, there's romantic tension right away when she meets Michael -- plus, by then, she's also had an encounter with a handsome 'ghost' who knows her name (the first time that's happened).

Certainly there's sympathy for Emerson because of all the pain she's endured.

But most books start out with a similar formula, I'd say. So I'm not sure what made this different. Was it the constant bombardment of problems? It seemed, at times, like Emerson never really caught a break -- something was always going wrong. I know that many people suggest that when you're writing, you do that do your MCs -- never let them rest. I'm not a huge proponent of that, myself, and perhaps that's because I personally have a hard time reading about (and experiencing) such an onslaught of intensity.

And I've read other books where it seems like the MC never gets a break, and yet the intensity isn't ratcheted up quite as high...so it's something I'm still pondering. What about you? What do you think builds serious intensity in a book? Do you like that, as a reader?


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 13th, 2011 10:10 pm (UTC)
I haven't read this--but I've read a few books that were too intense. It's not that I don't like action and tension, but like you said, there was no break in it at all. Which meant that after a while, there was nothing to compare the tension TO, if that makes sense. To quote Slughorn (since we're all in anticipatory HP fandom over here ;), "there is no light without the dark." If you want the tension to mean something, you need little breathers in there, whether with humor or small resolutions or SOMETHING. Then your tension will take on meaning. Otherwise, no matter how life-threatening, it all starts to look alike.
Jul. 14th, 2011 01:03 am (UTC)
Yeah...it's hard to know if this book is totally like that, since I got overwhelmed early on and started skimming. But I get that, and I think it's a good way to break it down :)
Jul. 13th, 2011 10:31 pm (UTC)
I can't think of a book I found too intense . . . so either I don't mind the tension, or I've never read a really intense book.

I'll have to read HOURGLASS (and I wanted to anyway) and see what I think . . . then get back to you.

Yeah, I'm lots of help.

I do agree with olmue though, there needs to be some "downtime" or at least less intense moments in order to not be overwhelmed.
Jul. 14th, 2011 01:04 am (UTC)
I'm definitely curious to know what you think :)
Jul. 20th, 2011 06:58 pm (UTC)
Okay, I bought it on my Kindle and finished reading it this morning.

I did notice Em didn't catch a break and things kept going wrong, but oddly enough, the only issue I had with the whole intensity thing is the relationship between her and Michael. It moved too fast and too blindly for my tastes even though their attraction was explained, it bothered me (and made me glad I've rewritten my own manuscript to eliminate a similar instant attraction between my characters . . . it doesn't play well IMO).

The plot pacing wasn't too fast for me, nor was the constant bombardment of complications too much. I liked that things moved quickly.

On the other hand, I had it figured out almost from the start so found myself impatient to get to the end and see if I was right. That might be why the pacing and intensity didn't bother me . . . because I already knew how it was going to play out. *shrug*

Anyway, there's my $.02. =D

Edited at 2011-07-20 06:59 pm (UTC)
Jul. 20th, 2011 10:42 pm (UTC)
I figured out some of it, but I got tired of the constant entanglements -- and I'd agree that the relationship seemed really intense too early on. Plus, I didn't like the attempted distraction of Kaleb...but that's because I don't appreciated triangles very much ;) Thanks so much for sharing this!
Jul. 21st, 2011 01:01 am (UTC)
Yeah, the Kaleb thing was unnecessary. It made him seem like more of a jerk than I would have liked . . . well, it made all of them seem more like jerks than I would have liked. ;-)
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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