My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I wanted to like “Shady Cove: New Girl in Town” so much more than what it provided. Even from the premise alone, it has a strong enough grounding to show how Jenna copes with the aftermath of her brother’s suicide and moving to the town that her mother wanted to get away from so badly. It feels like a decent coming of age story, but the style of the narrative doesn’t support the depth of what it’s trying to convey.
I think the main problems with the narrative are on the level of telling the character’s sentiments and circumstances versus showing. It felt like a summary of events in the narrative versus a more organic unfolding of emotional resonances and coming to terms. The narrative itself is brief – my galley was only 80 pages, but it was a slow burn to really grasp onto the events of the narrative because while the ideas were there, the execution didn’t completely grab hold of me to connect with the characters, especially Jenna.
There’s another problem in the narrative here with the “head-hopping” or transitions to other character’s POV sets without distinction or smoothness. On one hand, I didn’t know whether this book wanted to be third-person limited or omninescent, though it seemed like it was going for the latter alongside elements of the former. If it’d stuck to one style distinctly, then I think it would’ve been a smoother read for me.
From the way the narrative’s written and the thematics it touches on, this seems like a mature YA story, possibly NA (only because of several mature sex scenes that are in the middle and towards the end of the narrative, but that came across in awkward spells and without much narrative intimacy). I definitely liked the idea and the directive the story purported to go, but it just didn’t click with me for some of its respective issues, and I wish it’d focused more on developing and shaping the characters, the narrative style, and bringing more to the table than just the romance and/or sex.
Overall score: 2/5
Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher.