Friday, November 26, 2010

One Book, Two Opinions: Hush, Hush

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick (available here)
Description: High school sophomore Nora has always been very cautious in her relationships, but when Patch, who has a dark side she can sense, enrolls at her school, she is mysteriously and strongly drawn to him, despite warnings from her best friend, the school counselor, and her own instincts.

Leslie's take:
Hush, Hush, by Becca Fitzpatrick is a twisted, romantic story of a young girl, Nora Grey, who develops an attraction to the new student to her school, Patch. But as she becomes increasingly aware of him, the more stranger and life-altering events begin to happen in her life. Nora is faced with conflicting feelings of fear and desire when she is around Patch, and she can’t seem to follow her own advice, which is to stay as far away from him as possible. The longer she spends time with him, the stranger his actions become, and more increasingly are the dangerous events occurring around her. First, someone runs in front of her car as she is driving, next someone breaks into her house, and finally Nora has the intense sensation of being followed, stalked, and preyed upon.

Nora believes it is Patch who’s causing these events, but even with this belief she can’t seem to stay away from him, even when she knows her actions could result in her death…

Hush, Hush is an intriguing novel of desperate actions of attraction. Becca Fitzpatrick creates a dangerous world of love and desire, where people, whether magical creatures or mere humans, do anything for the one they love. It captures the intense feelings of first loves, and teenage hormones that cannot be stopped, even when the person knows their actions will have deep consequences.

The novel revolves around the concept of contorted desire, where one mixes the feelings of fear and lust into a game of cat and mouse. This concept of “I love you so much, I’ll kill you if you leave me,” or “I love you so much, if you leave me I’ll die,” is ‘acceptable’ in this novel only because of the fantastical nature of the characters. If this book had been written without any fantasy elements, and merely revolved around normal, human teenagers, the stalking, abusive, cruel nature of the male characters would not be tolerated. Instead, this novel glorifies the abusive nature of the men in the book, and creates a sexual desire to have a man who “loves you so much he would do anything to keep you.”

The most disturbing scene in this novel was by far the moment in the deserted parking garage where Nora turns around to find Patch lurking in the dark, waiting for her. Not only is he verbally abusive towards her in his brooding, cruel way, he also chases her around until she, stupidly might I add, gets onto the back of his motorcycle and allows him to take her home to her empty house in the middle-of-nowhere. I would like to point out to you, the audience reading this review, that if this ever happened to you- do not get into a car or onto a motorcycle with a male doing this. You scream “Fire!” and run as fast as you can to an exit, all the while dialing 9-1-1 on your cell phone. This is not acceptable behavior, nor will it ever be, might I add.

Besides the red-flag, abusive nature of the males in this story, I did enjoy the majority of it. It was well written and kept me entertained to the point that sometimes I yelled at the book. The dialogue was well written, and the characters interesting, if not sometimes homicidal. My only concern is, as a Women’s Studies major, the messages that this book is sending out in romanticizing rape, abuse, and stalking. None of those qualities in any person is “sexy”, and I would just like to point out my disgust in Nora’s decisions, which could quite likely have gotten her murdered.

Megan's thoughts:

I had a lot of preconceived notions about this book before I ever read it. It had come up a lot in "bad boy" book discussions and was featured as an example of YA literature that promotes negative behavior. I tried to read this book with a blank slate, but it's tough when you've already heard a lot about it. Overall, I had a very similar experience to Leslie.

I both loved and hated this book. I have to say, I actually enjoyed reading it. While I was actively reading, I was engaged in the story, never bored, and really enjoying myself. But as soon I was finished it I became slightly horrified.

First the good: There's just enough mystery and suspense to keep you going and guessing. Though the "twist" was a surprise, it wasn't totally out of nowhere and I thought there were just the right amount of clues and hints. The writing style was decent enough - there were even a few funny bits here and there. I'm totally in love with the fallen angel concept and I like that, at least in this book, there didn't seem to be some great war that Patch was fighting - he just wanted to either be human or go back to heaven. I thought Becca Fitzpatrick did a great job of revealing Patch's past and personality as we went along. It was engaging and fun to read - the whole book was.

Now for the bad: How is it possible to be both the smart-savvy girl and the dumb girl who opens the basement door in a horror movie? Nora thought all the right things. She thought that Patch was a total creep/stalker. She thought she should have nothing to do with him that she should even enlist in the help of adults to help her stay safe. Smart girl, right? Um, sadly, no, not even kind of. I was on the fence about her wavering feelings right up until Patch chased her around a deserted parking garage at night and then she got on his motorcycle and had him take her home - out in the middle of nowhere, where no one else was around. I literally yelled at her and threw the book across the room.
There is nothing romantic about being stalked. There's nothing sexy about a guy/girl who makes you uncomfortable and scares the crap out of you. Nothing. Giving him a six-pack doesn't make up for the fact that Patch was a total creep He is most definitely the villain in this story and not the romantic hero. Sadly, that's not the story that Becca Fitzpatrick wrote. Patch does go through a character arch and "changes his mind" about murdering Nora, but Patch didn't have even close enough of a transformation to make him worthy of any one's love, especially not his victim, Nora.

I'm always a fan of any book that leaves an impression, and this definitely does. I've spent a lot of time talking to other readers about this book. I think it's well worth the time it takes to read and talk about!

Check it out here, and then leave a comment below telling us what you think! Or write your own review and we'll publish it on the blog.

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