Monday, April 13, 2009

Willow by Julia Hoban (#13)

Seven months ago on a rainy March night, Willow Randall's parents drank too much wine at dinner and asked her to drive them home. But they never made it - Willow lost control of the car, and both of her parents were killed.
Now seventeen, Willow has left behind her home, friends, and school - numbing the grim reality of her new life by secretly cutting herself. But everything changes when one of Willow's new classmates, a boy as sensitive and thoughtful as she is, discovers Willow's secret and refuses to let her destroy herself.
(Summary from back of ARC)

The rule of thumb for professional reviewers and critics is to not read a review of something that you yourself are going to review before you actually review it. It messes with your brain and screws with your opinions. I don't really follow that. I like to see what other people think. And how weird would it be for me to be friends with all of these bloggers and just not read what they have to say? Yeah, it would be bad.

But I really wish I would've refrained from reading other reviews of Willow. With each shining and worshipful review that I read, I got more and more excited about reading this supposedly phenomenal book. And when I actually sat down to read it, I was slightly disappointed. I think I had also sort of hard-wired myself to look for flaws and imperfections in the book - to prove those other reviews wrong. Which is sad. I didn't let myself just sit back and enjoy the book.

The major thing that irked me about the book was how one-dimensional and flat the characters were. All the characters were like that. They only had one side to them. The author tried to add a little spice and a little more dimension to some of the characters here and there but her efforts fell short. While reading, I felt like I'd never meet these kind of people in real life. They'd never have these kind of personalities and they'd never act like this. They were all just unreal and sort of lifeless.

I don't know if there's anything else that was bad about Willow, but if you have bad characters, the book's already doomed, I think. It would take an amazing plot and some flawless writing to save a book like that. And I do think that Willow had that. It was definitely the story line and the execution that saved it.

I haven't read a book about cutting before. Ever. So that in itself was a plus for this novel. It's the first time I've ever experienced this subject matter so I have nothing to compare it to. But in my opinion, the topic was treated with honesty and openness. It's definitely a delicate subject and I think that Julia Hoban treated Willow and her story with respect which was nice. Also, the scenes in which the cutting takes place are amazingly well written. While reading I actually felt myself getting a little bit queasy and beyond that, I just felt so bad for Willow. I was impressed that Ms. Hoban was able to instill those emotions. In a way, it made me happy.

Also, the other thing that worked with Willow was how the book didn't focus just on cutting it also dealt with a plethora of other issues: romance, murder, being an orphan, sibling relationships, etc. This book really packed a punch.

So maybe this book wasn't as fabulous as everyone else has said, but it still deserves a spot on your reading list.

Thanks to Khy for the boook. You're awesome.


  1. LOL, I pretty much thought the exact opposite about the characters! Ah well to each there own!

  2. Aw, yeah, I'm with Alea. I really really liked the characters. I'm glad you did enjoy aspects of the book though and it's good you are honest about your thoughts, even if a lot of others love the book. I haven't read Laura's review but I believe she didn't like it either...

  3. I agree with you on the characters. I am reading this one right now and I can see the flatness of the characters already. I dont think I would ever find someone like these characters in real life either.

  4. You're honesty is awesome Liv! When I sat down to read it was back before there weren't any reviews of it so I just read and didn't think about anything else but it. But I see were you are coming from. There's been a ton of reviews for it and I see how you can think that. Great review!

  5. I haven't read it yet but I appreciate your honesty. I find I feel that way with a lot of hyped books myself. Will still be checking this out to see how I feel about it. Thanks!

  6. thanks for the honest review. I can't wait to read it.

  7. If you want a good one about cutting, try Cut by Patricia McCormick. It's really good. :)

  8. I was glad to read your review. I just received my copy of Willow last week but haven't started it yet. I've been trying to keep everything in perspective, having only read glowing reviews. Your review helps me do that.


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