Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Review: Switched by Amanda Hocking

In One Line: Very similar to lots of other teen paranormal romances, but with TROLLS!!!
Genre: teen paranormal romance
The Gist:
Wendy has had a tough life people. Her mother tried to kill her when she was six, all because she didn’t like the chocolate cake at her birthday party. Which, I suppose is kinda freaky, because what kid doesn’t like chocolate? So Wendy’s brother Matt and her aunt Maggie look after her (whilst her mother languishes in a psych hospital), and move home a lot because Wendy gets into trouble so often and has to switch schools so much. One of Wendy’s biggest issues is that she has the Power of Persuasion, which means she can make people do whatever she wants (which is AWESOME) but Wendy seems to think this is a bit of a drag.
In her latest school she meets Finn, who is really creepy because he keeps staring at her and then he’s mean to her at the school dance (but the reader blatantly knows that this is actually totally romantically endearing and not at all weird). And then in practically no time at all Finn has revealed that Wendy is in fact a changeling, and was SWITCHED (geddit?) at birth with a human baby. Finn has come to take Wendy back to her real family (who, incidentally are TROLLS) and because Finn is really hot, Wendy goes with him. They go to a place with a Scandinavian name that’s actually in America and once there Wendy discovers that she’s no ordinary changeling, but a freaking princess! But is Wendy cut out to be a glorious royal troll? And will she be allowed to be with Finn (who is essentially little more than a servant)?
The Cover:
It’s really pretty and fairy-tale like, which is nice. It’s also very generic and plain, which is nice too. I get the impression that this is a cover designed not to offend anyone. Which is nice. There are two editions in the UK, one for teens (with pink touches) and one for adults (with orange touches). I prefer the orange. My only concern is that the cover girl appears to be fair-headed (and certainly straight-headed), despite there being quite a lot of talk about Wendy’s dark, curly hair in the book. So if this isn’t Wendy, who is it? And why is she on the cover?
Why You’ll Love This Book:
  • This is the kind of book where you know exactly what you are getting. And sometimes that is exactly what you want. Guilty-pleasure-tastic. 
  • Trolls!!! And who knew that they’re not the stubby naked creatures with lots of freaky coloured hair? There’s a great little mythology here and a nice bit of world-building. 
  • I might be a troll!!! Trolls don’t like wearing shoes, and whilst I have nothing against shoes exactly, I do have really big feet and sometimes find it hard to find shoes that fit. A world where I don’t have to wear shoes would be awesome. Plus I have frizzy, unruly hair, just like troll people!!! Whilst I understand that this may have a lot to do with my Jewish ancestry, it does seem that the troll people know how to work their conditioning product, and this is a good thing. Also, it’s seen as ok to be in a bad mood a lot, because this is a troll thing. Sign me up!!! 
  • Palaces and dresses and chandeliers oh my!!! This book is rocking the secret princess motif. And there is nothing wrong with that. 
  • Evil mothers (plural!). Call me twisted, but I love this concept. It reminded me of something out of a fairy-tale. Did you know that in the original version of Grimms’ Snow White, it was a mother and not a step-mother who wanted her daughter dead? There is definitely something psychologically juicy in this. 

Why You May Not Love This Book:
  • It’s very predictable. Especially if you’ve read a lot of teen paranormal romance before (as I possibly have). All the usual tropes are there, and unfortunately so are all the usual clichés. Moody awkward heroine? Check. Handsome brooding bad boy? Check. Secret powers? Check. Discovering that you’re not awkward and plain but really kinda awesome? Check. Bad guys out to get you so your handsome brooding bad boy has to save the day? Check. A lot of you will have seen all of this before and get a little annoyed at the lack of originality in the narrative.
  • Oh Wendy with your deluded desires for Finn. I feel sorry for you. I’m sure many of you will love Finn, which is understandable (he’s all foxy and everything), but I had major problems with him. I mean, sure there’s that whole ‘I can break through your brooding exterior and fix you’ thing happening, but Wendy, once you get through that tough shell how do you know you’ll like what you find? Also, even if you do actually ‘fix’ him, how will you stop yourself getting bored once there is nothing left to fix? I feel that all of their passion comes from him having to save her all the time - and this a long term relationship does not make. Also, we know NOTHING about him. Like, actually nothing. Wendy’s entire infatuation is based on him looking good in dark jeans and that little thing of saving her life once in a while. I’m just not convinced in how this is going to play out long term. 
  • Unnecessary and flippant use of the word ‘foxy’. I used it above, just to test it out, and I will not be using it again. Amanda Hocking should heed this. There is never a good excuse to use the word foxy when referring to an attractive male. 
  • Trolls get greenish skin when they’ve been living among other trolls for a while. Me no likey. 
  • Overuse of ball gowns. I think I’ve read too many books lately where girls get glammed up and don ball gowns for a big party, and then admit that they feel truly beautiful when they are in their ball gown. Personally, having actually attended a few balls, I must say I feel pretty unsexy when all dolled up. Pretty dresses never reflect the real you, but the idealised version of you (according to patriarchal society - but I’ll leave the feminist thing alone, for now) and what happens when all the glitz comes off? You’re just left with plain old boring you. I wish some writers would show a heroine who is happy with herself no matter what she wears, not just when she’s been buffed and preened. 

The Hypersomnia Test:
It passed! Just about. There were some moments in the beginning where I could feel the sleep pressing on me, but that was mostly because I had a distinct sense of ‘here we go again’. But once Wendy arrives in the Scandinavian-sounding place, I was much happier and much more with it. 
Final Verdict:
This is a book you’ll hate to love. A little like Twilight. It has a very readable quality and a new take on an old mythology. A little like Twilight. It will also hugely appeal to young readers who don’t read an awful lot, therefore won’t recognise the clichés. A little like Twilight. I think you see what I’m getting at. 
This book, and the whole series, has already taken the e-reading network by storm. Hocking was a millionaire before she even got a proper book deal. I think there are a few reasons for that:
  • She’s a new voice in an under-saturated online market.
  • She’s written a simple story that’s easy to tap into and get lost in.
  • She put this first novel out there for cheap to get readers hooked.

Is she a great literary sensation? No. Is she a great example of how to market to a brand new internet/e-reading audience? Yes. 
I don’t think you’ll be missing much if you choose not to read this, but I will admit something that’s completely bugging at me - I WANT TO READ MORE. 
Further Reading:
Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr
Wither by Lauren DeStefano. 

If you want to buy Switched click HERE!!!

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