Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus
Publisher: Egmont USA
Released: July 13th 2010
My Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
His love captivated her... his secrets might kill her.
Since her sister’s mysterious death, Persephone “Phe” Archer has been plagued by a series of disturbing dreams. Determined to find out what happened to her sister, Phe enrolls at Devenish Prep in Shadow Hills, Massachusetts—the subject of her sister’s final diary entry.
After stepping on campus, Phe immediately realizes that there’s something different about this place—an unexplained epidemic that decimated the town in the 1700s, an ancient and creepy cemetery, and gorgeous boy Zach—and somehow she’s connected to it all.
But the more questions she asks and the deeper she digs, the more entangled Phe becomes in the haunting past of Shadow Hills. Finding what links her to this town…might cost her her life. (from Goodreads)
Shadow Hills starts off with Phe arriving at Devenish Prep. She belives that Devenish can help answer questions she has surrounding her sister's death, and also explain the weird nightmares she's been having. But when she meets Zach, she realises that something strange is going on in Shadow Hills, and she's determined to find out what is it is.
I enjoyed Shadow Hills for several reasons. Firstly, I like the whole concept - the fact that people can be different due to genetic mutations. I like how the powers are explained with science and how the author tries to make everything seem logical and realistic - as if it could be something that really happens and goes on in real life. I thought that was a nice touch and made the powers seem less mystical and more probable. I thought there was an interesting mix of science and Greek mythology which made the book quite original and intriguing. I also found the whole BV thing interesting and how the people with these mutations had to have a separate way of life and live differently from normal people.
I think Phe is a pretty strong heroine; she's not afraid to go looking for answers even if it's dangerous, and she thinks for herself and always speaks her mind. Graham is a great character, even though he can be a bit oblivious sometimes (which I actually think is quite cute :P) - I think he adds humour to the novel, and I enjoyed reading about his relationship with Toy. Adriana is another character who made me laugh - I didn't actually think I'd like her much because she was so snobby and rude to begin with, but she definitely grew on me as the story progressed. And of course, Zach. He's very sweet and caring, and it's really cute how happy he is whenever he's around Phe. My favourite character, however, is probably Sarah. She's an old lady that works in town who Phe meets by accident, but she knows more about Phe than is normal, so Phe seeks her out for some answers. Sarah's a mix of weird, kind and mysterious, and even though she only appears a few times in the book, I think she helps build up the ominous and unsettling atmosphere.
However, I did have a few issues with this book. I think Phe acts much older than fifteen - in fact, I didn't realise she was fifteen until she outright said it. Maybe she's just mature for her age, but I think she acts more like she's seventeen than fifteen. I also found the relationship between her and Zach a bit rushed; and again, since Phe is still pretty young I thought it was a bit early for Zach to say that she's "the most important thing" in his life now, especially since they haven't known each other very long. Plus, the whole "secret" Zach is hiding - he says it's dangerous and that no-one can ever find about it, but then he tells Phe about it almost immediately after. Then he's really worried about what would happen if anyone finds out Phe knows. But as soon as he tells her, everyone starts talking about it freely in front of her as if they don't care about it at all. Including Zach's dad. I mean, if this secret were so important and dangerous, wouldn't his parents be angry that he told Phe, an outsider? Zach, to me, is almost too accepting of everything as well. He says more than once "oh it doesn't matter" or "I don't care about that". He doesn't really express his own thoughts or opinions much, which makes him seem a little automated.
In conclusion, Shadow Hills was a good read, but not without its flaws. I'd definitely pick up a sequel, though (I'm really hoping there is one), and I look forward to more of Hopcus' work.