Note: This book review contains mild spoilers for The Graces. Major spoilers are hidden with spoiler tags.The Graces (The Graces #1) by Laure Eve • contains 415 pages • published by Faber and Faber on September 1, 2016 • classified as Urban Fantasy, Young Adult • obtained through subscription box • read as paperback • shelve on Goodreads
Everyone said the Graces were witches.
They moved through the corridors like sleek fish, ripples in their wake. Stares followed their backs and their hair.
They had friends, but they were just distractions. They were waiting for someone different.
All I had to do was show them that person was me.
Like everyone else in her town, River is obsessed with the Graces, attracted by their glamour and apparent ability to weave magic. But are they really what they seem? And are they more dangerous than they let on?
Initially I gave The Graces 1.5 stars out of 5 on Goodreads. However, the more I thought about the book, the more it manifested itself as my least favourite one of the year. With that, my rating plummeted to below even a single star.
There’s obsession and then there’s Obsession with a capital “O” and full on emphasis. According to the synopsis, River is obsessed with the Graces. That, my friends, doesn’t even begin to capture the degree to which she’s obsessed. She’s so maniacal, I was uncomfortable reading The Graces.
“Oh, Fenrin, you have no idea the lengths you’d have to go to get me to hate you. I’m not going anywhere.”
Even though these words aren’t verbalised, this is just a sample of her very creepy thoughts. She goes on to act on these thoughts, analysing every last shred of the Grace family.
“I had already begun to carefully piece together the exact construction of a Grace life. Maybe if I knew their formula, the combination of elements that made them what they were, I could understand them. Understanding something was one step closer to becoming it.”
So, not only is she obsessed with the Graces, she wants to become one of them. In no way, shape or form is that healthy behaviour. This is such a giant red flag right from the beginning, and sadly, also only one of many. Another massive red flag is the negligent single mother who doesn’t recognise River’s cries for help.
“And maybe. Just maybe. I could be a Grace.
This was the real test. All I had to do was will it to be so.”
The Twilight Comparison
Whenever a YA book is compared to Twilight, I’m wary. YA fiction is so much more than Harry Potter, The Hunger Games and Twilight. Despite that, this is an instance where I have to say, The Graces draws much inspiration from Twilight. Since I didn’t like Twilight, it comes as no surprise that I didn’t come to like The Graces either.
First up, meet the Cullens, pardon, the Graces. Beautiful, mysterious, charismatic siblings who everyone admires but can’t get close to. Then there’s the new girl who moves to the not quite rainy but similarly waterlogged (coastal) town. She somehow manages to fall in with the mystical siblings who may not be vampires but still are extraordinary and rumoured witches.
The first half of The Graces read as though the author took lessons directly from Twilight. This sucked a lot of joy out of reading for me.
Lacking Prose and Logic
Every now and then expressions confuzzled me. There were contradiction that no matter how I looked at them made me wonder how stringent the copyediting was.
“I’d spent some time trying to work out their angle, the one thing I could do that would get me on their radar. I could be unusually pretty, which I wasn’t.”
Either she is or she isn’t pretty. It’s not something she could do something about, except if she’d go for the extreme. Plastic surgery, anyone?View Spoiler »For all the time River spends worshipping the Graces, she later blames them that everyone flocks to them. It’s out of her own volition that she worships them. She goes as far as placing them on a pedestal based on rumours, for crying out loud, so why she decides the Graces are at fault for not discouraging it is beyond me.
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What also ticked me off was the conclusion from the Grace sisters that if River doesn’t like their brother, then she must be gay. River vehemently denies being gay but Summer persists. Seriously, how does not liking one particular person determine anyone’s sexual orientation?
River has a penchant for being overly dramatic, which I didn’t find endearing at all.
“I’d just exposed my soul to the most popular boy in school, and in return he’d given me silence.
Maybe I could persuade my mother to move towns again.”
What’s this secret that has her worried so much, you ask? She admits that sometimes she wonders if there’s more to life. Big deal. Everyone wonders that. Acting as though it’s an earth-shattering secret left me with no sympathy for River.
Not So Secret Secret Name
Now about River — River isn’t actually her name. What’s her real name? I wish I could tell you but I can’t because I. Don’t. Know. River is her “secret name” that she reveals to her newfound friend Summer Grace. Her real name is the one that remains a mystery. Not once is it mentioned in The Graces.
“It started in form room, while the teacher, Miss Franks, called attendance. She said my name.
Niral’s eyebrows rose in surprise. ‘Oh,’ she said. ‘You mean River?’
Miss Franks waited for me to say something, then cleared her throat. ‘Her name is not River, Niral.’”
There’s such great fuss over River’s name and yet I, the reader, couldn’t ascertain the gravity of the situation. It’s a farce that I didn’t even get to laugh about. Like, her classmates call her “new girl” and Fenrin opts for Alice once, referencing Wonderland along with words of Lewis Carroll, “curiouser and curiouser.”
Slight Improvement Towards the End
Things picked up a little towards the end with a few twists. Still they came way too late for me to care. I surely won’t be picking up the sequel to The Graces.View Spoiler »Fun fact: Replace the second “n” with “r” in Fenrin and you’ve got Fenrir. In Norse mythology Fenrir is a wolf. Thus, Fenrin and Wolf make such an obvious couple. It’s too bad the narration’s from River’s point-of-view because she’s the last one to see the connection.
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