Thursday, December 1, 2011

Review: Watched

Sharde Richardson
Paranormal Young Adult
Jolt Books
Available Now
Received through Teen Book Scene for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Mikayla doesn't want much: just to rock out to her favorite band, become the next Kwiki Stop video gaming champion, and keep her Q-tip habit under control. What she does want is the sight of the sudden inexplicable dark auras around everyone to stop. Problem is, those auras are demons and Mikayla is the last trait holder with the power to ban them. Which is a total buzz kill.

To make matters worse, the town folk of Sulphur Springs don't look the same, and her classmates are a little dark in the eyes. There are murders, suicides, reckless skinny-dipping, gratuitous use of Q-tips, and newfound powers that Mikayla must learn to control.

Her past becomes present when a shape-shifter tells her what her true identity is, and how to keep the demons of Hell from nipping at her Converse. Through him she'll discover who to trust, who to kiss, and how valuable her abilities are to the right beings. Because the evils of Hell aren't staying down without a fight...

Or without her soul.

Reading Watched is somewhat akin to being tossed into the deep end of a pool with little or no warning while our surety of our ability to tread water is far less than absolute, and so we begin this tale left to our own devices, floundering to catch our breath and open our eyes despite the sting and disorientation in trying to do so. We struggle a bit as Mikayla is brutally attacked, her understanding of what’s happening to her chaotic and bizarre, fed to us in flashes and short sentences that give us just a few moments to claw our heads above water and search out the familiar before we are plunged back under. So much of the world Ms. Richardson has created is darkly intriguing, however, we are given pieces of so many different aspects to Mikayla’s new existence without any of them fully expounded upon that we find ourselves continually searching for–but not finding–the footing that will allow us to break the surface, blink away the excess drops of water, and finally see clearly.

Mikayla has a the potential to be an extraordinarily strong and memorable heroine, her snarky attitude amusing and her ability to digest her new supernatural role in life admirable, but at times the overabundance of teenage slang that falls from her mouth dilutes some of the richness we know is there. This “teenage speak” is most apparent in the beginning chapters, but luckily it seems to taper off a bit as the story progresses though every once in a while it’s as though we’re listening to a favorite record, completely absorbed in the sound and the lyrics until all of a sudden Mikayla resorts to that slang and causes the record to skip, jolting us from our reverie. By the end a tenuous bond has formed, one that could easily strengthen depending on how she grows in subsequent books or one that could just as easily fizzle, fading away to nothing because some of her phrases and mannerisms block our way to knowing the girl behind them.

In addition to a young woman we definitely want to get to know better despite our inability to figure out how to crack her shell, we also find ourselves challenged by the seeming immensity of her role as a Hunter of demons. Terms are tossed around but not fully defined, her past is oh-so briefly alluded to but never illuminated, and her relationship with Sentry Lucas we're told is complicated for reasons that have yet to be revealed to us. By the time we reach the last page, even the most unorganized of us has an almost overwhelming desire to make a chart that details all the things we know and compare them to the colossal number of questions we have remaining, however before we can we're quickly catapulted out of the story on a cliffhanger that leaves us blinking in disbelief.

Overall, despite the confusing nature of how we are introduced to the world of demon hunting, this is an entertaining read with a very tense and interesting relationship between Mikayla and Lucas that could easily turn into one of those unforgettable and deliciously difficult romances. The desire to know more outweighs the slight frustration of being left with so many things unaddressed, and I will certainly be continuing on to see if Mikayla allows herself that growth and maturity I know is there waiting.

Rating: 3.5/5


  1. Hmmmm....this one sounds...difficult but good. I liked the plunge into the deep end scenario, it made the beginning seem dark and twisty, although, it seems as though it was a bit frustrating, too. I like the summary of the book and the world sounds fascinating but also under developed at times.

    I think I'll give it a try because of what you said in the last paragraph and I'm very curious about the q-tip situation. :)

  2. Teenage slang would drive me crazy. I guess you could say it's a "dialect" but it often seems fake and like a cop-out in writing. Plus, it dates a book. 50 years from now, our slang will probably sound as weird as "Swell" or "Groovy." On one note, I had a friend who used the word "Neato" all the time. I thought it was really stupid until I picked it up. I still say it. Along with things like "super-cool" and "super-cute."

    What else has Jolt put out? I'm not familiar with that publisher. Is it a small house or an imprint of something bigger?

  3. Well... This sounds... Confusing! But *sigh* I am TOTALLY in love with the cover dude!! Le GORGEOUS!!!

  4. Fantastic review. I do like to brace myself for a cliffhanger, if there is one.

  5. Ooohhhhhhh!!!! If I read this book, I'd probably be confused too LOL! x) It's always harder for writers to create new worlds with lots of terms, because they want to explain everything but they don't want to explain everything in detail and have the reader be bored. But despite all that, Watched sounds like a really cool book! :)

    Awesome review, Jenny! I'm glad you're still intrigued enough to want to read the next book. That's a good sign, right? x) LOL hopefully you like it better!

  6. Jen - It was really different and I thought parts of it were fantastic, I would just get ripped out of the story on occasion due to her slang. And I will admit the q-tip quirk she had was very strange. She put them up her nose to make herself sneeze.

    Alison - It was a touch irritating. It could be because I'm an older reader, but she would even get to be a bit unnecessarily vulgar at times and then that would be the only thing I could focus on instead of the story.

    Ashley - It was confusing, but not entirely in a bad way. I read it really fast because I was genuinely interested in the the story, but there was definitely a lot going on.

    Madigan - There's definitely a cliffhanger. You see it coming, but you can't really help but suck in a breath at the end anyway.

    Mimi - Overall, I enjoyed this one despite the flaws, so that's is most certainly a good sign. I would have just loved for her to drop the slang entirely like she does for the most part in middle, she's a bit much in the beginning.

  7. I'm not quite sure if this would be for me. Thanks for the honest review.

    This one was new to me.

  8. I've been in love with this cover....forever?! It's absolutely beautiful!

    I'm not sure how I would feel about the slang use. That's been known to really throw me in terms of really enjoying a book.

    However, the potential for a good romance might pull me into this read enough. :)

  9. pretty cover but I agree with you about teen age speak and it can distracting to the story.

  10. Jennifer - I'm hoping maybe the second book will be a little less hectic, but I'm looking forward to more with Lucas:)

    Jessi - It's gorgeous, I love it as well! The slang really bothered me in the beginning but she seemed to ease up on it a bit later in the book.

    Julie - Definitely. I tried to gloss over it, but there was too much there in the beginning to ignore it completely.

  11. I don't mind diving into a confusing situation as long as it clears up as the book progresses on. I'm just not sure that this one does. Still on the fence about this one. Thanks for the review, Jenny!

  12. Hmm, Watched sounds interesting, to say the least. I'm kind of curious to get to know Mikayla. And I'm definitely looking forward to that romance! :)

  13. Ugh, I am so over teenage slang. (This coming from the mom of a teen!) Too bad to hear that it was a bit on the confusing side, and that the main character didn't really live up to what she could have been. I do love the cover for this!

  14. Umm...a colossal number of questions? But my brain is too little for that amount of unknown. *sighs*

    And I can barely understand English, let alone slang. LOL

  15. Rummanah - It definitely does not clear up, but I'm hoping some clarity will come in future books:)

    Lauren - It was interesting! I enjoyed a lot of it, it was just all over the place at times.

    Christy - Me too. I felt really old reading it, like maybe if I was 15 years younger it would have made sense:)

    Missie - I adore you:)

  16. Q-tip addiction? Lol, yes there is always that one thing that has me wondering and wanting to read

  17. Not sure it this one would be for me, but great review as always! :)

  18. I so know what you mean with the 'plunged into the deep end' analogy. And don't worry too much slang in a book bugs me. Like teenagers talk like that every second...

  19. I am very interested in this book! In fact, I liked being tosses out there and letting the author surprise with new elements. Nice review jenny :)

  20. I have to admit the q-tips sort of made me shudder from time to time. I did enjoy the book, but that cliffie did make me want to run off that cliff to try to see where the rest of the story was going...

  21. The premise sounds really good, but I'd like to connect more with my main characters. Beautifully written review (again).

  22. But why? Why does she want to sneeze? The question of the q-tips was the primary reason I wanted to read this book, but I don't think I could stand up to the bad language. I am, in fact, a wimp and I usually have to gird my loins when I use a swear word. On the plus side, it's handy too for knowing when I'm really upset.

  23. I agree the premise sounds really interesting, exactly my kind of book, but after your review I'm nwondering how much I would actually enjoy this one. I'll put it on my maybe list!

  24. Well, we know I can swim in the deepend with no assistance, so there's always that chance that this one could be for me - it sounds like a great world, despite the harsh introduction.

  25. Sometimes the ones that have a rough start end up being great as the series goes on. Maybe this one will be like that. That you want to read the next book is all the endorsement I need. I do like your analogy of being thrown in the deep end and not being sure of our ability to tread water. I've felt that often in books with new worlds.
    Great Review!


  26. Great review! I admit I've been quite curious about this one since first coming across it, but this is the first review I read. The confusing part and things unaddressed isn't too appealing to me since I hate when that happens, but I'm still intrigued by it. I'll have to look into it some more! I'm glad you liked it enough to want to know more though! Great review. :)

  27. Ah, I hate it when things are difficult and confusing. I think you can definitely create a very rich world and mythology without making it confusing on readers. And you can even keep details secret/mysterious but still make things understandable for the reader. This one sounds interesting, but perhaps a bit too frustrating for my tastes.

  28. I'm intrigued. I do occasionally enjoy a book where not everything is explained (or spoon fed) to the reader, but likewise get frustrated when it seems like the author is only withholding info for the sake of forcing tension into the book.

    And what's with all the Q-Tip references?


  29. I just do not know if that would be in my wheel house to read but the cover is amazing. :) I am so glad there are so many YA choices out on the market now!