So, Shallow Graves is a (currently) standalone teen's novel about a girl named Breezy who died a year ago and woke up buried eighteen inches in the dirt, buried in a grave where she was missing the whole time. One boy was there when she awoke and mumbled, "Oh, you're perfect, just perfect," and at her touch she killed him and absorbed his memories and who he killed. How? Like Juliette from Shatter Me, Breezy has a lethal touch, but this time it only works on people who have killed someone else, and in certain parts of the world, there are people like that walking everywhere. She can also sense when someone killed another individual because they carry a shadow only she can detect. Now only one question comes up: Who killed her? What is she? Why does she have this touch? Why did she awaken? Can and should she just kill herself?
After reading this book, I think I might never ever publish a standalone novel. Not unless it's like eight-hundred pages, and then I'll probably turn it into a series. That's what happened with a series in development right now. I began reading books in series, and I've never left that tent. I didn't know Shallow Graves was a standalone when I picked it up, but I wouldn't have picked it down if I did, curious about the artistry of the cover. And even though there were times where I was against all odds immersed in Kali Wallace's strange world, by the end I was annoyed and couldn't believe how much of a missed opportunity this book was.
This book left me with more unanswered questions than any other book I read this year, which would be fine if it wasn't a standalone. From the way Kali Wallace has set up this book, I feel her unevenness in telling the story is completely unintentional. And I mean completely. In the back of my head, the disappointment I felt after I finished this book taunted me into giving it an even harsher grade, but I haven't because this was a story I was really really interested in. Kali Wallace's idea for a story is a cookie in a field of plain bread, giving us one of the most original teen books of the year. The idea there are undead people out there referred to as monsters for the way they kill killers, and the stories Breezy tells us concerning her past life and her strange theories, are worth noting if you want an original story.
Sadly, I'm sorry to say the story turnout is on the same level as The Glass Arrow one of the biggest disappointments of the year. I've read many amazing mystery novels and like I said, the resolution to this one was one I was interested in, one of the reasons I was so angry by the end. Mysteries should give you the facts, and then shuffle the facts around. But the cards shuffled around this mystery unintentionally distract us too much, with what feels like filler stories about Breezy that would've been fine had there been more pages to fill up, or if these stories were more about the mystery. By the end, nothing felt really clear to me and the culprit was a person I don't even remember reading about, proof I wasn't as enriched in the story as Kali Wallace might've hoped. Not only that, but the writing was...weird. There was this one scene where Breezy says "I don't remember waking up. I don't remember digging myself out of that grave " or something like that, when it's clear to us she does because we read about it already. And by the end, we hear her say, "I know who did it." But as I said, who did it never felt involved with this other story and I'm pretty sure she said something like, I knew it from the start. When I read a book, there are other things I have to do, so a good book has to have writing that keeps my interest, and this one just didn't, and that turned out bad news for me.
And I'm not going back on my word with this, but a problem I found with the idea of this was similar to one I had from Twilight. The fact that Bella and Edward are immortal, or at least can live thousands of years, makes me sick to my stomach. The idea of "forever" is romantic but seems to "rush in" too much. Not to mention they can't eat and don't need to sleep, two of the biggest pleasures in life. When I put the pieces together for this fact, the novel felt like whenever it didn't focus on Breezy's little abnormal, some people will say "problem", it was dragging and wasn't thinking about Breezy's future. It was also dragging in its goal. It's like around the two-hundredth page before Breezy is able to talk to a witch named Irene about her little affair. Thankfully, there's some action and the scenes talking about death feel genuine to cover up some of this.
And I won't spoil the end, but I'll just say, Kali Wallace said on Goodreads for now this is a standalone but she might dive into the world once again. She'd better. When I put the book down, I wished I could go into this world, and knock Breezy on the head with her skateboard and put some sense into her. Good luck not feeling the same way if you read this.
I liked the idea.