Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Review #AllHallowsWeek - Conversion by Katherine Howe


Series: Standalone 
Genre: Historical Fiction/Contemporary
(Dual Perspective)
Hardcover – 402pgs
Published – July 2014 (G.P. Putnam)
Source: Purchased

Rating: 2 / 5

It’s senior year at St. Joan’s Academy, and school is a pressure cooker. College applications, the battle for valedictorian, deciphering boys’ texts: Through it all, Colleen Rowley and her friends are expected to keep it together. Until they can’t.

First it’s the school’s queen bee, Clara Rutherford, who suddenly falls into uncontrollable tics in the middle of class. Her mystery illness quickly spreads to her closest clique of friends, then more students and symptoms follow: seizures, hair loss, violent coughing fits. St. Joan’s buzzes with rumor; rumor blossoms into full-blown panic.

Soon the media descends on Danvers, Massachusetts, as everyone scrambles to find something, or someone, to blame. Pollution? Stress? Or are the girls faking? Only Colleen—who’s been reading The Crucible for extra credit—comes to realize what nobody else has: Danvers was once Salem Village, where another group of girls suffered from a similarly bizarre epidemic three centuries ago . . .

Until I sat down to write this review, I didn't realize how annoyed I was with this book. I'm very disappointed because it had so much potential and it fell completely flat for me. From the beginning I found it hard to like with Colleen and I really struggled to stay invested. While I don't want to sound overly critical, I had a lot of problems with this story. 

Colleen's behavior ranged from annoying to infuriating. Throughout the book I thought of her more as Cher from Clueless rather than a girl fighting for the top spot in a private school. While we are reminded over and over again that Colleen is very intelligent, she isn't written that way. There are many things Colleen ignores or is oblivious to, and while the reader puts the pieces together, Colleen takes much longer. This makes the story drag! 

For me the biggest problem in this book was I didn't believe any of it. I didn't believe Colleen would be oblivious to all the things she was. I do not see how it was possible the student body didn't have any real sympathy for their classmates and instead viewed each other only as rivals for college admissions. Colleen was entirely focused getting into Harvard while her classmates were dropping to this illness like flies. I understand Howe was trying to create a competitive atmosphere between the students.  However, it felt like she was writing down to her audience the whole time and didn't believe they could figure anything out. 

Throughout the book I was much more interested in the Mystery Illness and the focus didn't shift to that until much later in the book.  This didn't track for me. I thought this was going to be the main plot line of the whole book and Mystery Illness never became the sole focus of the story.  I was compelled to keep reading, but only to find out what the Mystery Illness was. That explanation didn't give me many answers though so I was just frustrated overall by this book. 

Am I the only one though? I haven't heard many people talk about this and I feel like I'm picking apart this book. I was this frustrated while reading, but am I the only one who had issues with this book?  

Quick Thoughts: Though this book was based on true events, I didn't find the characters very believable. The budding romance in this book was cute, but even puppy love couldn't offset the other problems I had with this book. By the end of the story I was annoyed with everyone and the ending did not give me any answers. 

Happy Reading!

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