Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Review ~ Normal by Danielle Pearl

Normalebook received from the author in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: August 11th 2014

It's the kind of situation most people would dread. Starting at a new high school, in the middle of my senior year, in a new town, in a new state. I know no one. No one knows me. That's what I'm counting on.

A year ago, Aurora "Rory" Pine was just a normal teenage girl - just as sweet and naive as the fairy tale princess she was named after.

But this isn't a year ago.

Rory is broken, and now suffering from a debilitating anxiety disorder, wrought with precarious triggers, she moves across the country to escape the source of her troubles. Her plan is anonymity, but that's easier said than achieved for the new girl having a panic episode outside of calculus. The worst part? There's a witness - and a gorgeous one at that.

Sam is a walking trigger for Rory. Incredibly handsome, built like the star athlete he obviously is, and undoubtedly popular, Sam outwardly represents everything Rory despises about high school. But as the fates keep throwing them together, a connection sparks that neither ever expected, and certainly couldn't ignore.

But Sam has issues too, and Rory's past won't just stay in the damned past. When friendship evolves into something deeper, can a girl utterly destroyed by the worst kind of betrayal and a boy battling demons of his own ever have a normal relationship? Is that even what they want? Find out in NORMAL, a gritty story of trust and abuse, heartbreak and salvation, and if they're lucky - love. This is not a flowery romance - not for the faint of heart.

My Opinion

I'm reluctant to say I enjoyed this book, because I don't think it's really the right word due to the content in Normal, but that doesn't make it a good read. Normal was a hard-hitting, dark, contemporary novel that touches upon some heavy and emotional themes. While it isn't an easy read, it's one that captures your interest and moves you.

When I first started reading Normal, I didn't expect to not be able to put it down. I did also kind of regret agreeing to read it when I saw the length on my Kindle. However, it surprised me and I found myself lost in the world the author created. By the time I stopped, I realised it was 2 a.m. and didn't know where the time had gone. The writing flowed well and each chapter made me want to read the next one, and then another after that. 

Similarly, I thought the characters were crafted well. I'm not usually one for characters who blame themselves for everything, but in this book Rory felt real. I can't imagine what's it's like to go through something like she does, but I felt her emotions and thoughts were realistic and mirrored what people go through with this type of abuse. As well as this she had a believable progression and growth in herself, with the help of Sam. He was another great character that was so unlike the normal arrogant, cocky male leads. He worked his way into Rory's heart by being a true friend; he understood what she needed, and he respected her. It was nice to watch how Rory progressed around him and how they grew closer together. I can say the same about Cam. He was a nice character to read about, even if I guessed what happened to him way before the reveal.

Normal is written from two different points in time, with chapters changing from Rory's past to the present day. I think overall this worked and it gave a very detailed account of what actually happened to her. It gives the readers a good insight to why she's so unstable in the present, and it allowed the author to tell her story without Rory have to talk before she was ready. I will warn you that the events aren't sugar-coated. There are vivid scenes of rape and abuse which is unlike other books I've read that usually use flashbacks, but it works. 

However, having said all of that, there are a few reasons I couldn't rate this book five stars. I said earlier that when I saw the length of Normal on my Kindle I did regret accepting it for review. My other thought was that I was going to find either a lot of repetitive scenes or superfluous scenes that should have been cut in editing. Although I liked this book, this was exactly what I found. 

Because you read about Rory's experiences before she's ready to tell them (in the past chapters) it means when she does finally build up the courage, the detail she goes into becomes repetitive and not necessary. There were quite a few scenes that I felt could have been shortened or, in some cases, cut totally. This was a long read and I'm glad that I asked about the ending before I agreed to review as I knew it wasn't all going to be resolved. I think I'd have been annoyed had I not known that, as after such a long read I wouldn't have wanted to get a cliff hanger. In fact, even knowing, I still wasn't keen on the ending because it was such a long book.

Similarly, I did feel the book was a bit wordy at times and there was too much description and not enough speech. Those of you who read my reviews regularly know that speech is a must for me and one of my biggest annoyance is when you get phrases like "he said xyz, and then I said xyz" because I'm like "Just write the conversation!" There were quite a few moments like this in Normal and I think this was a contributing factor to the length. I liked the speech that was there, I just wanted more.

Overall, Normal is a good read and I definitely don't regret accepting it and want to read the next book. The characters are great and the book deals with the subjects realistically, without shying away from the harsh truths. I do think it's too long and could use another round of editing to tighten the story and cut unnecessary repetition, but it's still a read that draws your in. Despite the length, it holds you attention and it's one I couldn't put down.

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