Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Slide by Jill Hathaway

Title: Slide
Author: Jill Hathaway
Publisher: HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray
Release Date: March 27, 2012
Pages: 256 pages (hardcover)
How I Got the Book: Found an ARC

SlideVee Bell is certain of one irrefutable truth—her sister’s friend Sophie didn’t kill herself. She was murdered.

Vee knows this because she was there. Everyone believes Vee is narcoleptic, but she doesn’t actually fall asleep during these episodes: When she passes out, she slides into somebody else’s mind and experiences the world through that person’s eyes. She’s slid into her sister as she cheated on a math test, into a teacher sneaking a drink before class. She learned the worst about a supposed “friend” when she slid into her during a school dance. But nothing could have prepared Vee for what happens one October night when she slides into the mind of someone holding a bloody knife, standing over Sophie’s slashed body.

Vee desperately wishes she could share her secret, but who would believe her? It sounds so crazy that she can’t bring herself to tell her best friend, Rollins, let alone the police. Even if she could confide in Rollins, he has been acting off lately, more distant, especially now that she’s been spending more time with Zane.

Enmeshed in a terrifying web of secrets, lies, and danger and with no one to turn to, Vee must find a way to unmask the killer before he or she strikes again.


Everyone thinks Sylvia "Vee" Bell's fainting spells are just instances of her narcolepsy acting up, but they don't know the truth. In reality, she ends up in other people's heads when she passes out and sees like through their eyes for a few minutes. She rarely sees anything good, but she ends up in a killer's head one night as they hold a knife over the dead body of her sister's best friend. Vee races against time to find the murderer as she struggles with her own issues, the body count increases, and her sister appears to be the killer's next target.

Vee's story is a sympathetic one considering what she goes through every day as a result of her power and what happened to her that made her go from being a blonde cheerleader to a quiet pink-haired girl. At first, I thought I thought I was going to love her; when a character comes up with quotes like "If she's the pink glitter on your valentine, I'm the black Sharpie you use to draw mustaches on the teachers in your yearbook (Slide, ARC p. 5)," I'm easily won over as long as the rest of their personality isn't particularly offensive.

Unfortunately, some parts of her personality were pretty bad and I couldn't ignore it. Her choices in detail and description when describing other girls did not endear her to me. She reviled the cheerleaders for being judgmental of other girls and mean to them? I often found Vee to be only mildly better than those girls. Almost as bad, she couldn't make up her mind about whether or not she wanted to get close to Rollins again. She kept saying she missed him, but she never tried very hard to strengthen her friendship with him to its former strength.

The only other remarkable characters were Vee's younger sister Mattie and her father. Rollins had potential, but little was done with him and it seems like he will be more thoroughly explored as a character in another book. I want to give Slide credit for trying to give the minor characters depth, but the attempts largely failed and get no credit at all, especially for forcing me to deal with more negative female stereotypes gathered into one book than I can feel comfortable with. The badly done love triangle and cliches do an especially good job weakening what is a fairly decent, if not good, novel.

The mystery element of the novel was a mixed bag. I perceived a few of the more important twists well ahead of their reveals, but I was caught off-guard and surprised by the twists more often. The tight writing, liberal use of red herrings, and perfect narrative choice (first-person present usually annoys me, so that is true praise right there) kept me reading despite my annoyance.

I think the strongest element of the novel is the way it takes time to touch on a few different issues. Bullying, suicide, date rape, the death of someone close to you--for such a short novel, Slide makes rooms for a lot of issues and does it well. Anyone looking for a lot of concentration on them will be disappointed; Slide is mainly focused on the mystery with a slight detour of "oh my God, this guy's so hot I forgot I'm investigating a murder." Still, the time it does dedicate to them is well-spent.

Slide sets up a brand-new series well, answering all the necessary questions for it to feel complete as a book yet leaving a few questions unanswered and allowing for expansion into new territory. Its sequel Impostor will be out in March 2013(!), but I'm not sure I will put it on my to-read list for 2013 just yet. The blurb is tempting, but I will wait to hear more about it.

3 stars!

What am I reading next?: The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson