Monday, November 1, 2010

Review: Intertwined

Gena Showalter
Young Adult
440 pages
Harlequin Teen
Available Now

Most days it's hard enough to get by with only your own thoughts to distract or console you, so for Aden Stone life is quadruple the challenge every single moment. Aden has four individual souls trapped in his head, each with a unique personality and ability. One can time travel, one can raise the dead, still another can predict future deaths (including Aden's own), and the last can possess another body. Talking to the souls in his head has earned Aden the reputation of being mentally unstable, bounced from one mental institution to the next until he eventually ends up at a home meant to help rehabilitate juvenile delinquents.

Aden has always been on his own, with no memory of a family and certainly no friends outside of the souls, wishing for a moment's peace and a sense of belonging with every fiber of his being. When he meets Mary Ann Gray, he's finally granted one of his wishes. She quiets the souls, providing a few moments of blissful silence while in her presence, and Aden feels compelled to find out everything about her and her profound effect on his world.

While Mary Ann brings peace, she also brings an uncanny sense of foreboding; factor that in with the arrival of vampires, werewolves, and a bevy of other supernatural creatures into Aden's small town, and his lonely life is suddenly teeming with both friends and foes. All the new arrivals want Aden, and though he's unclear as to what attracted them, he must find out before he puts his new friend's lives at stake while he races against the clock of his own death premonition.

Ms. Showalter is an absolutely brilliant storyteller. Her characters are never flat nor predictable, never lacking in depth; rather they enfold us in their lives seamlessly, tethering us together through invisible bonds of believable pain and insecurity despite a supernatural setting. The worlds she creates are exquisitely detailed and complex, the nuances depicted beautifully and thoroughly without being so comprehensive as to dull the storyline with excessive descriptive information. It's easy to step into her stories from page one, instantly transported to where she wants us to be as though we fell through the pages themselves, arriving face to face and toe to toe with fascinating characters whose thoughts and emotions we come to know as well as our own.

Intertwined is certainly no exception, brimming with mystery and uncommon characters who defy cliches and inhabit a category all their own. Aden is the classic loner, moved from one place to the next when his abilities and ramblings become too much to manage, left alone as a problem for the state to handle. He has an understandably volatile temper, but his inherent loneliness and drive to find acceptance make him accessible to us as readers as we want to wrap our arms around him and let me know he has at least one friend at his back. Though he exhibits these typical vulnerable bad-boy characteristics, Ms. Showalter imbues him with a fundamental difference in the form of four other souls occupying his body, providing Aden with an unforeseen depth, one that seems to have no bottom but rather will continue to expand in all directions as we venture forth on his journey with him.

In addition to an unusual male lead, we are also presented with an atypical romantic situation. Normally when a story is evenly split between the thoughts and actions of both a male and female protagonist, it seems inevitable a romance will develop between the characters with whom we're most familiar. That is not the case in this story. Instead, we get an entirely new layer as separate love interests, each posing their own unique set of problems for our protagonists, are introduced. Thus, we get to experience not only the joys and challenges of one paranormal relationship, but two, each as intrinsic to the main storyline as the other. One relationship never seems to take precedence, and all four characters are exquisitely balanced even as their individual connections run rampant with tension and passion.

My primary complaint with this story is the complexity of the plot toward the end. We have the main storyline surrounding Aden, his souls, and his overwhelming draw to Mary Ann and the peace she provides, and from the beginning it seems as though this is the mystery we will attempt to unravel. There doesn't appear to be a true villain, just the enigma of the main characters' fundamental existence for us to decipher. With the arrival of Victoria, a vampire princess and Aden's love interest, we are given a pseudo villain in the form of her father as he, like the other supernatural creatures, is interested in Aden and his abilities. However, at the conclusion we are bombarded with secondary and tertiary villains as well as multiple new storylines, each with the potential to be infinitely complicated on it's own let alone when combined with the story already in progress. This seemingly spontaneous introduction of so many new elements after the leisurely pace of Aden and Mary Ann's exploration of their link is a bit disconcerting, leaving us standing at the end of one story but the beginning of multiple new plot pathways not knowing where we will step foot next.

That being said, I have every confidence Ms. Showalter will steadfastly guide us through the second installment, providing us with the information we so desperately need now the world and it's characters are firmly established.

Rating: 3.5/5


  1. Can I just say that I love how rich and in-depth this review is? You've totally convinced me to pick this up (and it's not really something I'd normally read) :)

    I love the idea of two romances, and the world building and characters sound awesome.

  2. WOW, fantastic review Jenny. I have this series on my TBR. I need to get cracking on it.

  3. I have this on my kindle along with all her other series. She is one of those authors I have heard enough good things about that I bought all without reading one. Hoping to read them over Christmas break!

  4. Great honest review, Jenny! I read this a while back, and I have to admit I was bloody well confused half the time. There was SO much going on, I just had a really hard time keeping it all straight. I'm interested to read your review for Unraveled, when you try it - I'm scared to haha :)

  5. Vee - Thanks so much! I will say this one is a bit confusing as times, but I just finished book 2 and loved that one:)

    Tori - I think you'll like them, Gena just writes really well no matter what genre, so I enjoy this series:)

    Felicia - Oh can't wait to see what you think!

    Melissa - I agree, there was a lot going on! I will say the second one was a lot clearer for me, things made more sense and the separate storylines came together, definitely give it a try!

  6. Hmm I've never read any of her books, YA or adult, I'll have to give her a try sometime.

  7. I've been interested in this book for a while, but I keep hearing how confusing it gets at times. Now that the sequel is out I should pick it up so I wont be left with so many unanswered questions. Fantastic review.

  8. Okay, I have seen the cover for this book many times, but I never stopped to read the synopsis. Now that I have, all I can think is What? It does sound like too many things are going on, but I'm so intrigued to know more about what you mentioned, the romantic elements in the story. Will finally add this to my wishlist. Thanks

  9. I've been torn on this series: it sounds a little like the Southern Vampire series, I was confused about Mary Ann and Victoria (not another love triangle!) and I've read a few reviews that mention the end getting complicated. Plus, I can only find Unravelled in the book stores here. You've cleared some things up and it looks like I might be Kindle-ing this one.

  10. Mollie - I think you'll like her, her Lords of the Underworld series is fabulous and I liked the second book in this YA series quite a bit:)

    Adriana - The sequel is less confusing and is more even-paced, they're worth a read!

    Missie - It's a lot to get a grip on initially, but she tells such a great story. Hope you like them if you give them a try!

    Jennifer - No love triangle in this one which is nice. Aden and Mary Ann have a brother/sister relationship. It's a good kindle book for sure!

  11. I have the eBook of the 2nd book for review, so I definitely need to pick this up. Thanks for the thoughtful review! =)

  12. Hi Jenny!

    So, with the release of Unraveled, I've been intensely curious with this series. I haven't had the chance to pick it up yet, though. While I extremely dislike books that get confusing towards the end when things are thrown at us, you also said that you liked Unraveled, so I may give this series a chance. :)

    Thanks for the great review. <3

  13. I liked "Interwined" but my main complaint is that Showalter gives so much information in large chunks that it's hard to digest sometimes, particularly the beginning and in the end. I'm curious to see how the second one is, so I'll pick it up soon.

  14. I can tell you put a lot of thought into this review...and it is SO appreciated! I have been on the fence about this one, constantly pushing it back on my to-read list, so it was nice to see an honest review. After reading, I think I WILL pick it up, but probably not urgently. :)

  15. I love the idea that two main characters - a male & a female - can have a relationship that isn't romantic in nature. Romance is fine but it's nice to read different types of relationships sometimes.

  16. Argh, I am going to have to get through more than two or three books a week to get my TBR pile down!

    And you've just added another one to it! Great review!


  17. Ashley - Hope you like them!

    Kristina - It does get at bit confusing at the end, but I just like the way Gena writes, I get absorbed in her stories even when there's a lot going on. Unraveled is much clearer, though the events are still complicated.

    Rummanah - Very true, I'll be interested to see what you think of book 2!

    Anna - Thank you! It's definitely a good read, but not urgent like you said:)

    Karen - I really liked that aspect as well, it was refreshing.

    Linds - I feel the same way when I read reviews, my TBR list just keeps getting longer no matter how many books I read:)

  18. Great review! Im a huge Showalter fan but I havent read this one yet =)

  19. Can you believe it? I have never read a Gena Showalter novel yet? *runs hiding away from the gasps*

    But, let me tell you, after this review, I'm going to make a concerted effort to get a copy of her books. I think I really must be the only person on the planet that hasn't read any of her books yet. Fantastic review as always - I'm looking forward to seeing what you think of the next installment in this series.

  20. I love Gena Showalter. I loved her writing and her books are awesome! This is one book of her that I really liked. I've read her other ya books and could never seem to get into them. When she release this one, I was hesitant, but bought it anyway. I love it! Nice review :) I'll be reading the second one soon.