(Simon & Schuster, October 2009)
Coming off of a young adult literary world awash with vampires, werewolves, zombies, and faeries, Hush, Hush, Becca Fitzpatrick’s debut novel, takes a refreshing new look at the paranormal. She explores a fairly new creature of the supernatural: the fallen angel.
The story tells the tale of tenth-grader Nora Grey. She’s a typical teen girl going to school and working for good grades. What’s not so typical is that Nora’s father has been murdered, and her mother is often not home because she works out of town coordinating estate sales and antique auctions across the East coast. This leaves Nora in the care of the housekeeper and ripe for getting into situations that greater supervision would make difficult.
Nora has not been particularly interested in any of the boys in her class despite the constant encouragement of her risqué side-kick, Vee. This changes when she meets a new boy in class with a mysterious past: Patch Cipriano. The stunningly exotic and artistic cover art speaks volumes regarding the subject matter of the book, and herein exists one of its greatest enticements as well as its flaws.
The captivating cover and prologue of the story make it immediately clear regarding the origins of Patch—he’s a fallen angel. The majority of the book, almost to page 300, explores Nora’s attempts to discover who or what Patch is. This was somewhat disconcerting on one level because the reader knows right from the outset who he is and keeps waiting to discover when Nora is going to get a clue. It also took away what could have served as a major component in creating interesting and greater tension in the story.
The book is marketed as a Young Adult romance, but I found it to play out more as a mystery and suspense novel. Much of the focus is on trying to find out who apparently is spying on and trying to kill Nora—not that this search is a bad thing, just unexpected considering the cover art. Despite this, the story provided nonstop action and made for a good read. There were many questions the reader wants answered, and the book is a page-turner in pursuit of those answers. There were also several welcome laugh-out-loud moments.
The story itself, however, has potential that I believe has yet to be explored, the least of which is the romantic relationship between Nora and Patch which received somewhat cursory attention in this first book. The questions surrounding the murder of Nora’s father have yet to be answered. Ms. Fitzpatrick shows great promise as a writer and as she continues to hone her craft, I would expect a deepening of characterization of the protagonists in her books. Hopefully, Ms. Fitzpatrick’s sequel, Crescendo (Fall, 2010) will do justice to a clearly interesting storyline and go to greater depths in exploring who these characters are and how they connect to each other.
This is certainly a good book worth reading, leaving you anticipating its sequel.