Friday, June 29, 2012

Review: Silence

SILENCE (Queen of the Dead #1)
Michelle Sagara
Paranormal Young Adult
 256 pages
Available Now
Received from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
"It began in the graveyard... "

Ever since her boyfriend Nathan had died in a tragic accident, Emma had been coming to the graveyard at night. During the day she went through the motions at her prep school, in class, with her friends, but that's all it was. For Emma, life had stopped with Nathan's death. But tonight was different. Tonight Emma and her dog were not alone in the cemetery. There were two others there--Eric, who had just started at her school, and an ancient woman who looked as though she were made of rags. And when they saw Emma there, the old woman reached out to her with a grip as chilling as death....

Emma was not quite like others teenagers. It was true that other girls had experienced grief. Other girls had also lost their fathers, or had their boyfriends die in a senseless accident. But though she hadn't known it till that night in the graveyard, unlike those other girls, she could see, touch, and speak with the dead. In fact, Emma could draw upon the essence of the dead to work magic. That was what Necromancers did. But Emma had no desire to be a Necromancer. She just wanted to help the ghosts who walked the streets of Toronto, unable to escape from the land of the living. And that was just as well, because had she chosen the path of the Necromancer, Eric would have had to kill her.

Instead, Eric and his fellow Necromancer hunter Chase found themselves violating every rule they were sworn to follow, becoming part of Emma's group, helping her to stand against those who preyed upon the dead. But whether Emma and her friends could survive such a battle was anyone's guess. And whether Emma could learn to use the magic of the dead against her enemies without herself falling victim to the lure of such power remained to be seen. Eric seemed to think she could, and her living friends would never abandon her. But only time would tell what Emma's true destiny was.... 

Silence is beautiful in its possibilities, sparkling with promise and tempting us with a fascinating premise to crack its spine and dive into a new and dark world. While necromancy isn’t necessarily a new and novel paranormal concept, Ms. Sagara’s twist that those with an affinity for the dead are hunted down and assassinated certainly is, and we read on with breath held waiting to see how Emma’s fate unfurls. Though the new, violent take on necromancy piques our curiosity initially, we quickly realize that any questions we have about the ins and outs of Emma’s ability are going to go unanswered, just as the reasons behind a necromancers immediate death sentence is going to continually elude us, leaving nothing but vague half-truths and skilled deflections in their place.

Emma, much like the story itself, has a great deal of potential as a heroine. She’s emotionally strong, rebuilding her life after the tragic death of her boyfriend Nathan and ensuring that her closest friends, especially autistic Michael (the highlight of the story for me), are all taken care of. Her strength though, while admirable, is part of what keeps us from forming a visceral connection to her, as she rarely lets those around her see or share the weight she’s carrying. When she learns of her gift for necromancy and Eric’s subsequent assignment to kill her because of it, she asks very few questions, instead preferring to fumble around in the literal and figurative dark, seemingly content to handle things on her own despite her confusion while we want nothing more than to assume control of her voice and ask everything she refuses to.

In addition to a surprising lack of detail regarding the necromancy, how it works, and why it's feared so greatly that death for the necromancer is the only possible outcome, there are also a myriad of questions left wide open with regard to Emma’s personal life and her relationship with Nathan. We’re told of Nathan’s death early on, but because there are no flashbacks and very few memories of Emma’s time with him, his loss is intangible – an event that elicits a brief flash of sympathy from us before fading into the background, leaving us a bit indifferent to his role in the book rather than completely devastated by his loss. The haunting ache and acute pain we might expect as a result of the death of someone so loved by our protagonist is missing, and we find ourselves frantically searching for a tether to bind us to either characters or story before we’re swept away by the force of all that’s unknown.

Overall, Ms. Sagara has crafted a world more than interesting enough to inspire readers to pick up the second installment, though hopefully moving forward Emma will take pity on us and seek out as much information as possible regarding her ability so we can all find ourselves a little less lost.

Rating: 3/5


  1. Yes! THAT is how I felt! It was beautiful writing, but I often felt confused. When things happened it felt busy to me, overwhelming and confusing. I too liked Michael and found him to be the highlight. It wasn't a bad book, I just want/need more info. I think you portrayed things perfectly in your review Jenny, its perfect!

  2. Yep, I guess I had similar complains but also liked about this book. I never felt the loss of Nathan, which is why the ending left me totally by surprise and also a bit lost.. The lack of romance was also something I didn't like, I always had the feeling we were just about to get something and then , we didn't.

    I liked the Necromancer idea and I hope it will get more explored next book!

  3. Ooo! I think I've seen this book before! The cover and the summary sounds really interesting! I'm glad that the writing is beautiful!

    Can't wait to read Silence, Jenny! Awesome review ♥

  4. Sounds interesting, though a book that doesn't answer many questions (information whore, here) can be a little annoying. Hopefully the second book will realize all that potential!

  5. 'Silence is beautiful in its possibilities, sparkling with promise and tempting us with a fascinating premise to crack its spine and dive into a new and dark world.'

    This line of your review alone has already perked my interest in this book. Emma sounds like such a great character and I'm intrigued to see how she cares for her autistic friend - since that was the highlight for you. I'm on the look out for a heavier read and I think Silence will do the job!

    Thanks for another beautifully-written review, Jenny - I'm so glad I found your blog!

  6. Candace - I was super confused too, and I just couldn't understand why she barely reacted to the fact that Eric was sent to murder her. I would have questions about that personally:)

    Danny - I wanted to feel Nathan's loss more keenly as well, I couldn't relate to her pain at all because I knew nothing about him.

    Celine - I loved the premise! I'm just hoping we get more information on the necromancy part of it in the next book:)

    Amanda - Can we form another group called Information Whores? I need to join.

    Beverley - I absolutely adored Michael and Emma's relationship with him, definitely my favorite part of the book:) And I'm equally glad to have found your blog!

  7. Michael has been a favorite in every review I've seen of this book. Sagara certainly created a memorable and lovable character in him! Great review!

  8. Such a beautiful review Jenny, I admit that I'd never heard of this book either before your review, but the premise and the gorgeous cover has definitely got me intrigued! Thanks for bringing another awesome book to my attention! Here's hoping the second book will provide a lot more! :)

  9. What a beautiful review for a beautiful book! (I could probably stare at this cover all day haha <3) I read the first chapter in stores because I wanted to see if it was buy-worthy or not, but I was so confused too -- although the prose really is gorgeous :') It's too bad that the necromancy isn't explored that much because I've always though that bringing back the dead is so cool!

    Thanks so much for the wonderful honest review, Jenny! :) <3

  10. This sounds interesting! I love the slight twist of necromancy here. It sounds like it can make way for an engaging plot. It's a shame a few aspects were left unexplored but hopefully book 2 will rectify any flaws. Great review, Jenny! :)

  11. I have been wanting to read this one for a while. I'm a little sad that some aspects were missing in this book, but I still definitely want to read it.

    Great review, Jenny!

  12. Jenny your reviews are so awesome you could make mud slinging sound interesting....I will be passing on this one, I don't like Necromancy or anything about raising the dead or creepy stuff like that......but great review..:)

  13. Ceclia - Yes she did, I just adored hime:)

    Jasprit - I'm definitely hoping we get more answers in the second book, though by the time it comes out I'll probably have forgotten my questions:)

    Mimi - I just wanted Emma to ask questions! She was perfectly content to not know anything about Eric and who he works for and who ordered her death and why. All things I would want to know in her shoes:)

    Sam - I really liked that twist too:) I'm crossing my fingers for book 2!

    Ashley - You definitely should! You'll have to let me know what you think:)

    Tina - Hahaha thank you! I think maybe I should write a review of mud slinging and see what happens:)

  14. Hrm, I really like the premise of this one and the writing sounds strong. The holes in the world building particularly those relating to her necromancy powers have me hesitating. I think I'm going to play safe with this one and see how the second book fairs out. Have a great weekend, Jenny!

  15. Well, that cover had me very much wanting you to love this one. But I'm really a character girl and the lack of back story to make us feel the loss of Nathan doesn't work for me. Think I'll wait on this series. Thanks for such a thorough review of what worked and didn't work!
    As always, excellent review!


  16. This is one of those times when I look at the cover and I don't care if I get a little lost or frustrated about not knowing more about her ability. I am a cover whore. I admit it... but that dog! Gotta have. At least the book seems to read well enough.

    That cover!! :)

  17. I'm sorry to hear that the wake of Nathan's loss wasn't more poignant. I think it could have add a deeper connection to the story had it been. I think I'll be skipping out on this one, but in odd and useless news, I love the word necromancy. It's so fancy and it sounds kind of romantic. LOL

  18. Wow what a lovely cover! It's too bad you didn't love the book but I am still glad to hear you enjoyed it! I am not exactly a huge fan of books about necromancy and the fact that it isn't exactly mind blowing does not make me want to pick it up but thank you for the review!!!! However the writing does sound wonderful! I am glad to hear that you believe the series is promising!


  19. I'm actually looking forward to the next in this series, just because I really want to delve into that world more. Loved the writing, very intrigued about what might happen next (with more explanation, I agree).

  20. Rummanah - Good idea, I have high hopes for the second book:)

    Heather - I kept hoping we'd get a flash of Nathan or two so I could feel Emma's devastation with her, but it just never happened. I think we might get that in the next book though.

    Melissa - Yes! Loved that she had a dog that went with her everywhere:)

    Missie - Feeling his loss definitely would have drawn me into this story more, I kept waiting to feel something and it just never happened.

    Jaskirat - There's lots of promise in this one, I'll be picking up book 2:)

    Mary - Same! Especially with the end:)

  21. I've never been a fan of horror because it involves the dead. But strangely enough, I am always intrigued by the concept of necromancy. The cover is beautiful. I might just add it to my TBR pile.

    Thank you for the awesome review, Jenny :D And thanks for the follow :">

  22. The description of this sounds really amazing. Too bad that you weren't able to feel her loss due to very little elaboration. It makes it so you don't really care one way or the other. That and the issues with connecting with the MC leads me to put this read off for a while. Excellent review Jenny. :)

  23. So sorry to hear this because I had been so taken with the cover and the dark atmosphere that the synopsis promised. But not having any details surrounding the major plot element of the book is one of my biggest pet peeves. Some questions left over are okay but if I'm left with a ton of questions about how something works, then the author didn't do the best job they could with explaining things, I think. Oh well, I still enjoyed reading your helpful review, Jenny!

  24. Thanks for the review! I enjoy this book so much.

  25. I had heard that the second book takes place in New Orleans, so of course I kind of want to read this book now. You have incredible insights for this book and perhaps I would have to go in knowing it's a kind of light read.

  26. Sounds like a wonderful premise that fell a bit flat in the execution...I hope that book two has more answers and less questions!