Publisher: Penguin Group USA
Release Date: October 16, 2012
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Nothing ever came between sisters Alice and Charlie.
Their family falling apart never would.
Until they got to Serenity Point.
In a town built on secrets and lies, it's going to be hard to stay innocent.
They're sucked into a strange and seductive world—a world they can't help but hate, and can't help but love. A world that threatens to tear them apart, just when they need each other the most.
The Innocents is the first in a new series of young adult novels that weave a saga of nail-biting drama, breathless romance, and Gothic mystery.
So, I found The Innocents to be very genuinely enjoyable. It's a suspenseful thriller full of mystery and intrigue, love and romance. It actually reads a lot like a historical fiction book, although it's set in the modern day. It was incredibly unputdownable and definitely a page-turner. I certainly wasn't bored reading it. There were definitely some things I didn't like about it, but overall it was a good, solid book with a good story to tell.
Of the two sisters, I definitely liked Alice more. She's usually cool-headed, reserved, but lately, not so much. She wants answers, and she doesn't want to just sit around. She knows it's up to her to find them. She sometimes got annoying, but mostly, she used her head. Mostly. She could be rash and impulsive, but she really didn't try to hurt anyone, and she just wanted to know the truth, which I can absolutely respect. She's not a bad girl, but she also doesn't follow all the rules. She's just a little bit of a rebel.
Honestly, I mostly didn't like Charlie. There are moments when she's okay, but for like at least 75% of the book she's a self-centered brat who makes stupid decisions and gets herself caught up in dumb things. She also constantly chooses her fake friends over her sister, which is just not cool at all. It's like she's trying too hard to be rebellious, but inside, she's just a scared little girl, and I didn't like that at all. No, Charlie held no appeal for me. She was far too hard to like.
THE LOVE INTERESTS
Sadly, Tommy felt very flat as well. I like him and all, but there really isn't much to him. We get a lot of his back story, but we don't get what I feel are the important parts. I think he dwells on the past more than he lets on, and he also I think doesn't make the best decisions. It's clear enough that he cares about Alice, but he's hesitant to let other people know about that, and that is his first mistake.
I also didn't like Jude. He's definitely the bad boy type, but not the hot kind as far as I'm concerned. He's a complete jerk to both Alice and Charlie. Alice, thankfully, has taste and doesn't like him, but Charlie, the not-so-smart one, is naturally drawn to him. I just don't understand his appeal. He's rude and self-absorbed, but of course it seems like he might have a vulnerable side, too. He also appears to be a very cliché character.
The Innocents is suspenseful, more so than you'd think. There's a lot of mystery. What happened in the past? Where do the lies begin and end? There are so many questions. Some are still unanswered at the end of this novel, but it's the first book in a series, so I suppose that's to be expected. Still, I wanted to know more.
A lot of the story is based on the past, and there was so much more of it than I realized. It doesn't just go back a few years. No, this story has been woven since before Alice was born, and she's only jut starting to realize that. Charlie wants no part of this digging up the past, but she might not have a choice. After all, the answers that Alice finds affect her, too. And even though I don't like her, I know that Charlie is a good person at heart and loves her sister. Some of this knowledge just might be enough to break her.
The romance is also a huge part of the story. It's part of the now, but no matter what the characters might want, it is irrevocably intertwined with the past and there it nothing that can change that.
I like the way we slowly get our answers, and that Alice has to work for them. It's not as easy as turning a page or anything like that. But this need consumes her, and she realizes that she needs to know about the past. She'll risk anything for that.
At the same time, some things in this novel seemed just a bit too coincidental. Like, they just worked out a tad too perfectly, or things just randomly happened by random chance when it seemed too calculated. Not quit spontaneous enough. It was just kind of stiff, I think.
But it scores major points for originality. It's a dark gothic mystery, and that's just old-fashioned fun. There's so much of wanting to know what's next, the search for puzzle pieces and then trying to make them fit together. It was really, really fun. I'm not gonna lie. I loved working everything out along with Alice, and I know why she's become so enthralled with it.
Tommy and Alice have a romance that starts out slowly. Softly. They just kind of sit and talk, and I love that. They're both drawn to one another, and though Alice sometimes doubts the reasons, they have excellent chemistry. It's not lout, but it's powerful. I love the way it progresses, too, and the way that it's rocky but they both fight for each other. It's not easy, but it's all they have. I don't care too much for Charlie and Jude's romance, probably because I don't care much for either of them. It feels very stereotyped as well—the bad girl and the bad boy giving up their ways for each other—and it just wasn't very compelling at all.
Lili has lovely writing. It's easily the shining glory of this book. Alice and Charlie's voices aren't always divided evenly, which I didn't like. Sometimes they kind of blurred one into another, which was frustrating and weird. But other than that, it's awesome. The third person managed to make me feel connected to the characters, and the descriptions are super vivid and realistic. Her writing made the book come alive. All of her characters, whether likable or not have distinct personalities and voices.
Actually, this book ended in a really good plea. I'm not complaining. Also, talk about unpredictable. There was so much that I did not see coming. Looking back, of course there'd been hints at it, but it simply wasn't something you think about. All the drama suddenly comes together and clicks with this new information, and many of the events that take place during the novel make that much more sense. There's something of a cliffhanger, though I wouldn't call it that exactly, but I know for sure it left me wanting more.
Overall, I really did like The Innocents. I had a problem with half of the main characters, but I managed it. I was certainly disappointed, but I was still entertained. I will definitely be reading This Side of Jealousy. I'm curious too see where the story goes, and even the worst characters always have a shot at redemption. If you're into historical fiction or suspense, you'll probably adore this, and though I'm not saying to go out and buy it this second, I do give it a good recommendation.
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