Monday, August 9, 2010

Review: The Thirteenth Chime

Emma Michaels

Young Adult

209 Pages

Bokheim Publishing
Available August 13th, 2010

Received for review


Destiny and her best friend Stephanie are taking a much needed breather from the stresses of school finals and are planning on spending a few blissful days at Stephanie's new beach house. Unbeknownst to them, blissful will not be an adjective they will choose to describe their time by the sea.

Shortly after arriving, a freak accident occurs, putting both Stephanie and her mother in the hospital. Alone and frightened by the unusual circumstances surrounding the accident, Destiny calls her ex-boyfriend David, whom she has always been able to lean on in times of need, for moral support. David, still struggling with his unforeseen dismissal almost a year ago, flies in to be the proverbial shoulder-to-cry-on.

Once there, David begins to realize that something has truly scared Destiny, and it's not the thought of an intruder in their home as the police would have them believe. Her fear has more to do with an unusual grandfather clock at the top of a staircase; a staircase in a house with a reputation situated on a cliff overlooking an island prison. Clues begin to fall into place, a mystery begins to unravel, and David must shoulder hurt feelings and focus on Destiny before the clock strikes thirteen.

This novel has a story that shows promise. The mystery element unfolds nicely, with some twists and turns that are fairly unpredictable and could lead to intriguing future revelations in subsequent books. It also has a very beautiful cover design. That being said however, I do have some fundamental problems with the book as a whole.

Character development for me is one of the most intrinsic parts of creating a good story. Without characters that draw me in, I feel like an outsider with my nose pressed up against the window pane wanting desperately to be inside where the action is taking place. I like characters that force me to feel. I love to love characters. I love to hate characters. I love to love to hate them. But most importantly, I love to be wholly and completely involved in their world, however temporarily. The most successful characters for me are those that are multifaceted, with layers that are subtly revealed as the storyline progresses, drawing me further and further in until I'm screaming and crying and completely submerged in their emotional trials and tribulations.

Unfortunately, the characters here are lacking that much-needed depth. David and Destiny are very one-dimensional, their thoughts and feelings told to the reader instead of shown. David reflects thoughtfully. Destiny smiles smugly. Everyone chuckles lightly. All thoughts and emotions are presented in short, staccato bursts that don't provide any substance to which the reader can latch on and hold tight.

Furthermore, the relationship between David and Destiny is confusing and somewhat uncomfortable at times. It's not very clear why the relationship ended initially, only that it was a surprise to David, and their interactions are awkward in a way that I don't think is completely intentional. David has valid reasons for being upset with Destiny over her past behavior, yet he drops everything to rush to her side when she's engaged to someone else, and once he's there, all serious conversation is eschewed by Destiny punching him in the arm and giggling. He gets punched in the arm quite a bit.

I have a few other issues with the writing itself, the primary one being that it lacks a maturity and finesse I've seen from some other young adult writers. There are numerous brilliantly written, engaging, and haunting paranormal young adult novels out there at the moment, and this one just isn't on the same playing field. That's not to say future novels won't be improved upon, however.

There are a couple problems with the sequence of events as well, but as characters are the most fundamental part of the story for me, my primary issue is with their individual personalities and relationships. I believe this debut from Ms. Michaels has a solid idea and good bones, but it's missing the heart to give it vibrancy and truly bring it to life.

Rating: 1.5/5


  1. I read some other reviews about this book, pretty much all the same. I have not read it, but its starting not to look very promising.

  2. Aw, I'm so sorry to hear this! When I first heard of this book I thought it was going to be a huge hit. But since the characters aren't very good, the whole book seems to fall apart. Great review, though!

  3. This is one of those books I was looking forward to. I'll probably still read it but I'll be on the look-out for what you said and I won't enjoy it half as much with one dimensional characters because characters are the reason I read and write in the first place.

    Thanks for the review!

  4. I thought it had a fantastic title and premise, and was so sure it was going to be a great read. Flat characters really grate my nerves! Oh well, thanks for the review. :)

  5. Sorry this one wasn't for you. Thank for the honest review.

  6. Savannah - I was really excited for this one, I'd been seeing it everywhere, but unfortunately for me it just didn't match the hype.

    Emidy - Absolutely. Characters are vital, I have to feel something for them or the book just doesn't work.

    anjohnston - You should absolutely still read it if you're looking forward to it, not everyone will be in agreement:)

    Elle - It does have a great title and premise which is perhaps why it was a little disappointing:(

    Fiction Vixen - You're welcome:) I hate when a book doesn't work for me, but sometimes you just don't connect!

  7. I was also really excited for this one, I did an Author interview with Emma and really wanted to like it. Not that I have heard all of the reviews I am not looking forward to it as much... It's a shame, I will still read it but am not expecting as much

  8. Finally! Someone to join me in my lonely corner! Drink?

  9. Hi Jenny and many thanks for visiting me at Pen and Paper. Sorry it has taken me so long to return your visit - life has once again gotten in the way of my blogging.

    A great review, I remember advertising this book but have yet to decide if I will read it or not. I have heard several people say that the characters are rather underdeveloped and, like yourself, characters are so important to my enjoyng a book .... or not. Anyway, thanks for your thoughts.

  10. What a great review. I know exactly what you mean when you say that you want to be able to experience a character completely - regardless of whether your love them or hate them. I'm a firm believer that characters are an essential reason why you'd want to continue reading the book, so the moment the character doesn't have any depth to them, is the moment I really begin to lose interest. I think I'll give this one a skip!

  11. awwww it sucks that it wasnt for you =/

    I appreciate the honest review though =)

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