The Graces by Laure Eve
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thanks so much to the publisher for granting me the opportunity to read an ARC of this.
River has an obsession: to be a part of this strange, fascinating group of people in her school. The Graces are siblings: Summer Grace dresses like a goth and it seems like she has a shield around her. Thalia Grace is the golden girl- beautiful and untouchable. And Fenrin- Fenrin Grace is the most attractive guy in school, and River is certain that she is in love with him. The Graces have a complicated history- everyone in the town says they are witches, and River believes the rumors. But their potential darkness only draws River in rather than push her away. She knows that the Graces change friends like people change their clothes, but River will make sure that she becomes a part of them, a part that will not be so easy to let go of. And she will do anything to get what she wants.
The premise sounded fascinating; stories with themes focusing on obsession, elitism and families shrouded in darkness are some of my favorite stories. Something about the carnal need of people to belong to a group of people seen as elite, no matter how twisted their intentions and beliefs are- it just makes for great storytelling. It shows us how we, as humans, can go to such great lengths to belong, and characters’ struggles to do so is what makes such stories worthwhile. Our protagonist, River, makes it seem like she has a very tough time worming her way into the siblings’ lives, but that’s not the case. A few well-worded sentences here and there, a couple of overly-calculated actions and voila! She’s in. Eve gave her character such an easy in that I didn’t feel invested in this obsession.
Speaking of investment- the characters felt so flat. The protagonist was rather disingenuous. Everything she did was so thought-out, calculated and controlled. She was a liar- but that’s not why she’s a bad character. Unlikable characters are not the same as flat ones; it’s just that we are always reminded that River is putting up a front to get with the Graces, but we never get to see the real her. The result is a ghost who we know too little about to possibly care for. As for the Graces- they had a reputation and this air of being the top of the food-chain, the elite, the mysterious people who everyone was drawn to, but my question – even now – is: why? The only answer I can think of is that the book falls prey to so many clichés, the Graces being one of them.
See, Thalia is dull. There is nothing interesting about her except for the way she dresses. Fenrin is the token hottie: blonde hair, well-built, has a great reputation. He’s unattainable, and there’s little more to him. Summer was perhaps the only interesting character in the book, but even she was let down by how her arc was executed. Considering that the Graces have a “mystery” around them, they weren’t mysterious at all. Summer literally goes around doing spells in school grounds with a circle of her peers. She hides nothing. She lays it all bare when River comes along, and that completely defeats the purpose of the entire intrigue of the premise. The Graces weren’t supposed to be normal teenagers with normal lives with normal personalities- they were supposed to be different. And the fact that they were so far from what the premise promised was off-putting.
Other clichés: absentee parents, token mean girl who is cruel to our protagonist for no reason, protagonist constantly assuring the people around her that she is different and not like other people, inclusion of diverse characters simply to ‘develop’ our protagonist.
The Graces is Twilight, but not as enjoyable. It had many of the same elements, but I had fun while reading Twilight. The characters were all despicable, but at least they felt real. The story was predictable, but at least it made sense. The only thing this book did better than Twilight was the writing. And I hate it when I have to give books low ratings even though the writing was quite good, but alas, the Graces leaves me with no other choice.
The Graces releases September 6th, 2016