Paranormal Young Adult
Received for review
through Teen Book Scene
Lenzi has a problem. She hears voices talking to her–pleading with her to help them–and she thinks she's going crazy just like her dad did. At her request, her boyfriend Zak takes her to her father's grave late at night so she can feel closer to him. When Zak passes out drunk on a bench in the graveyard, Lenzi thinks she's alone until a young man named Alden approaches her and calls her Rose.
Thrown off-kilter by the presence of a stranger who seems intent on calling her by another woman's name, Lenzi tries to get him to leave her alone. It's only when he mentions the voices that she decides to listen. It seems Lenzi has lived several lifetimes as a woman named Rose–a woman who helps restless spirits complete tasks that will help them find peace and move on, and Alden has been by her side as her Protector in each lifetime.
Wanting to deny everything Alden tells her but unable to do so the more she hears the spirits whispering to her, Lenzi decides to throw herself into the world of Speakers and Protectors and attempt to fulfill a destiny lifetimes in the making, regardless of the fact she can't remember anything from her past as Rose. Rose's history quickly catches up with Lenzi however, and she finds herself haunted by a ghost with a vendetta while fighting the memory of a woman she can't remember for Alden's love.
Shattered Souls gives us an interesting take on assisting the dead with the resolution of any business anchoring them to the mortal plane, adding an extra layer of complexity to the world by incorporating the cyclical nature of Lenzi and Alden's connection. Not only do we get to watch as Lenzi deals with her assimilation from normal human to paranormal spiritual guide but we also get the added drama of her past-lifetime amnesia and its effect on her relationship with Alden. The link between them is a complicated knot from the very beginning–their history together having already pulled the strands taut–and one of the more fascinating aspects of the story is witnessing Lenzi unravel her ties to Rose and Alden while finding a way to twist new knots that bind the young woman she is today to the man she's lived with for lifetimes.
Once Lenzi moves past her "I'm not cut out for this" mindset and begins to embrace her job as a Speaker, she quickly becomes a character we connect with and long to help as she flounders in a world that's new to her mind and body in this cycle but old to her soul. She's determined to make Alden see her for who she is without painting her with Rose's brush, and we can't help but feel a pang of sympathy for her every time a comparison is made to a woman she doesn't know. While Lenzi is likeable for the most part, her feelings for Alden do develop rather swiftly given she has no recollection of their past time together, and she casts boyfriend Zak aside easily after mere moments before labeling him as the one normal thing in her life to keep her grounded. She ignores him and hides Alden from him before the official break up, dropping her a few rungs down our maturity ladder as we frown on her behavior even while our support of her in other areas continues to grow.
Alden, for as big a role as he plays in this story, remains a bit of a mystery to us throughout. We get a few of his memories of his time with Rose, but even with them and the interactions he has with Lenzi, he's still like looking upon a reflection in water–at times we can see him clearly and his edges are defined and recognizable, then the wind will blow and he'll shift out of focus again before we can grab on and hold tight. Part of his appeal is in this very elusiveness though, forcing us to keep questioning whether he's in love with the woman he remembers or the one standing in front of him now, and we read as fast as possible to attempt to get past the ripples to the place where the water is calm enough to give us an unwavering look at who he truly is.
The story itself is intriguing but feels just a touch choppy, three separate conflicts transpiring and then getting resolved within this one book. First we have the past-life amnesia mystery and the reintroduction of the Speaker/Protector world to Lenzi and by extension us, then we move on to a malevolent spirit bent on revenge for Rose's actions in a previous life, and then finally we have a dramatic clash between Zak and Alden. Though the growing relationship between Lenzi and Alden does link each mini-episode to the others, there's still a lingering sense of incongruity between the malevolent spirit and the Zak showdown, with each piece of the story feeling as though it could have been expanded upon to make the overall arc flow better. That being said however, the chapters do fly by at blurring speed and this tale is easily devoured in one sitting, making it a solid read even with its few flaws.
Ms. Lindsey asked the blog participants on this tour to take pictures of the Shattered Souls ARC mailed from person to person with their pets, so I'm including the pictures I sent her below. This is Gatsby who is typically not as in love with the camera as Griffin, but Griffin kept trying to lick the book when it was put next to him so he had to sit in a little time out while Gatsby got all the glory :-)