Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Glimpse (Stephen Whibley)

The Dean Curse Chronicles, Book 1)
Steven Whibley
Steven Whibley Publishing
Fiction, YA Fantasy
***+ (Okay/Good)

DESCRIPTION: Dean Curse wasn't always cursed, unless his kid sister Becky counted. He used to be a pretty normal kid. Then, a few days before his fourteenth birthday, he stumbles across a man being beat up in an alley. Afterwards, strange things start to happen - visions out of nowhere, of people screaming in deathly fear. At first, Dean thinks it's just post-traumatic stress, as his psychologist father diagnoses. Then he sees those same faces on the obituary page. As Dean struggles to understand what's happened to him, he sees more faces... very familiar faces. Can Dean really change the future, or are people he loves truly marked for death?

REVIEW: This wasn't a bad story, but it felt oddly schizophrenic. On the one hand, there's Dean faced with horrific visions of death - not simple heart attacks or old age, but violent deaths, sometimes right in front of his eyes. On the other, there's the lighthearted, almost slaphappy feel to the rest of the book. Dean's mom is a faint-hearted cliche, his dad an ignorant overanalyzer, and his sister's a snot-nosed little brat. His best friends Colin and Lisa could easily be renamed Ron and Hermione; Colin's the comic relief, and Lily's the worried thinker of the trio. There's even a school bully named Drac- er, Eric, though he only has one goon follower. I suppose this was a deliberate attempt to counter the horrors of squaring off against Fate and death, but it went a little far. Dean and his pals seem to accept the matter a little too easily; his father may be portrayed as an overthinker, but he really has a point when he worries about his son's mental state, given the traumas he's endured. (Even the Animorphs experienced psychological fallout...) It also took too long to figure out the nature of Dean's curse; he has three horrific visions before he (or the reader) begins to even have a clue what the screaming ghosts mean. While it read quickly and relatively smoothly, I ultimately couldn't bring myself to care enough about Dean or his curse to continue this series.

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