Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Book Review: Shattered Souls by Mary Lindsey

SUMMARY: Lenzi hears voices. She also sees visions--gravestones, floods, a gorgeous guy with steel gray eyes. She knows she must be going crazy, just like her dad did. Her boyfriend, Zak, can't do anything to help, and the voices just keep getting louder, the visions more intense. But when Lenzi meets Alden, the boy from her dreams, everything makes sense.

Sort of.

He tells Lenzi that she's a reincarnated Speaker--someone who can talk to lost souls and help them move on--and that he has been her Protector for centuries. But instead of embracing her abilities, Lenzi struggles between her life as the girlfriend of a sexy musician and the life she is destined to lead with Alden. Yet time is running out; a malevolent spirit has been trying to destroy Lenzi for ages, and he will surely kill her if she doesn't make a decision soon.

Her choices are clear: Destiny or normalcy. Alden or Zak. Life or death.


The Short Version:
Creepy and engaging from the start, Shattered Souls twists ghosts with the heaven and hell concept in an original and well executed manner. With a strong protagonist, action and build up early on, and an explosive climax, this one definitely pulls the reader in from the start and doesn’t let go. Add in the gorgeous writing and blend of easy banter and intense situations, and this is a stellar debut and an author to take note of.

The Extended Version:
Lenzi is a very dimensional, well rounded character, whose personality comes through early on. She is brave and determined, and despite the fear she often feels, always finds the strength to face it head on. Terrified she’s becoming schizophrenic just like her father, Lenzi struggles early on but continues to push through. With an easy relationship and connection to her boyfriend, and a strained but still loving and trusting one to her mother, she has a small but firm support system. She is an easy character to like and root for, despite making mistakes.

Zak, her boyfriend, is charming and likable early on, and though he brings plenty of tension to the table as the story progresses, he very clearly cares for her deeply. There are some sweet moments between the pair, and some heartbreaking and intense ones as well. He pulls out both the best and the worst in Lenzi, and though he doesn’t have a constant presence within the story, he is built strongly enough early on to remain memorable throughout.

Alden is completely swoonworthy, charming, cocky and relaxed while also having his moments of insecurity and awkwardness. His relationship with Lenzi is built and developed in a very steady and understanding manner, having both an immediate intensity and a slow yearning. Even through Lenzi’s perspective, his full personality comes through strongly, and he is as well rounded as she is.

Rounding out the cast are Maddi and Race, who are colorful and lively, and Lenzi’s mother, who does have a strong presence without being overbearing. Lenzi’s home life in this one is interesting, having only been living in her current city for three months. Her only real friend is Zak, and she has no real roots to speak of. This adds a certain tone to the whole book that Lindsey navigates carefully, and also helps make the connections Lenzi does make shine brighter. Race is a crack up and one of my favorite characters of the book, a speak his mind and always laughing kind of guy. Maddi comes off as the girl who keeps the boys in control while having a good time with it, and the overall kinship between the two with Alden and Lenzi is completely enjoyable to read.

The plot has an overall smooth and steady pace. With a gripping and rather creepy start, and plenty of spine tingling scenes scattered throughout, this is one that can easily play as a movie in a reader’s head. The worldbuilding and explanation comes in large part in the first half of the book, but Lindsey inserts enough banter, humor and creepiness to keep things moving and the reader entertained. Once things really pick up, though, the story moves at a strong pace and the second half of this book is almost one extended, and well worth it, climax.

Lindsey’s mythology and explanation take common concepts and twist them into something all her own, and she does it fantastically. The basic idea is simple, but her execution is phenomenal. From the physical effects of what Lenzi is and what happens to the overall reasons it events exists, Lindsey explains everything by the end of the book. Little clues are smattered throughout, also, that an astute reader will pick up on, while other things come completely unexpectedly.

There is a constant reminder of the ghost angle of this one, whether it’s a physical show or a voice Lenzi hears. Lindsey has does a beautiful job bringing the realities of Lenzi’s world to light without overdoing it to the point of annoyance for a reader. The changes within Lenzi as things progress and she becomes more accustomed to what is happening are also clear and well defined, adding to the overall air and nature of the book. Even with this, however, the realistic setting is also just as strongly built and the playoff between the two and integration of the paranormal into the real world is well defined.

The writing is gorgeous, having a very bold fluidity that gives both a solid voice to Lenzi while also bringing out both the physical settings and the emotional ones. Lindsey has made intangible things like fear and pain realistic and something any reader will understand. Add in the romance and building sexual tension, and she has nailed this one with the emotional side of writing in a way that comes off as completely easy and effortless. While there is a strong romantic angle to this one, and even a love triangle, it in no way overshadows the actual paranormal aspect of this book, which makes it stand out even more. The blend between paranormal and romance is beautifully weaved, building everything together.

This is a book that will make the reader think, and that has taken some simple concepts and twisted them into something completely unique. The characters are fantastic, having a small cast but all of whom are bold, well developed, and memorable. While some parts could be considered slow, Lindsey has inserted wit and humor to combat it. With a great word economy, and stunning writing that is to the point without being elementary, and an extended and explosive climax, Shattered Souls is a brilliant and bold debut.

Source: ARC received from author in exchange for an honest review
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Philomel
Publication Date: December 8, 2011


  1. Wow! Amazing review! You've got me drooling over the keyboard. *wipes mouth* Kidding! :) But really, wow. I NEED this now!

  2. Thanks for sharing. I'd already pre-ordered this based mostly on the beautiful cover, I'm glad that the book seems to match it in awesomeness.