Review: Ink and Bone by Lisa Unger

“Never talk to strangers. If someone ever tries to take you, fight with everything you have. Scream as loud as you can. (He’d never told her what to do if the man was too strong and there was no one to hear her screaming.)”

27276336★★★

Opening Hook: Tediously attention-grabbing

Main Character: I see dead people-ing it

Plot Twisty-ness: How twisty can it be when everyone is a goddamn psychic?


I don’t know why I keep trying books with psychic characters, because I never like them.

Also, apparently this could technically be considered part of series called The Hollows, but I have zero experience with Lisa Unger or that series, so perhaps that’s why I’m not as jazzed about this book as other people have been.

This does read like a standalone for all intents and purposes, though.

Basically what you have here is a twenty-something who is a developing psychic, so she goes to live with her grandmother, who is an experienced psychic, to get her psychic abilities up to snuff. While she’s doing her psychic-training she starts to hear a persistent noise – squeak, clink – and her psychic grandmother is all, “that’s your psychic gift telling you to start doing psychic shit,” so she gets onto the case of a missing child, who has some psychic connections in her own life.

Basically, everyone is a goddamn psychic.

surprised mind reading GIF

And I’m not sure how a town full of psychics hasn’t been able to find the answer to “where’d that kid go?” but they haven’t and everyone is distressed; marriages are falling apart and life is just generally terrible.

The opening to this book was dark and attention-grabbing, but also wordy. So, while it did suck me in and intrigue me, I also found that this only happened when it stopped explaining inconsequential things and got to the good stuff. Really, this was also setting the tone for the rest of the book. To me, it was a little bit dense in terms of sentence structure and emotion. The thrilling moments were good, but you have to go through the weeds to get there, if you know what I mean.

The main character, Finley, was the kind of character that I have a hard time liking because she’s written like the author is out of touch and trying really hard to make something “cool.” It just comes across, to me, as trying too hard. Give her tattoos, give her pink hair, give her a motorcycle, make her really angsty and make sure everyone mentions what a spitfire she is, and have someone be totally in love with her because there’s no one else in the world like her.

I could do with less of that. It feels like I’m being force-fed this idea what a cool girl is, instead of just naturally forming my own opinion based on genuine characteristics.

This thing authors do where the characters are “not like other girls” kind of grinds my gears as well, because what is wrong with other girls?

*gets onto soapbox*

Listen, this is truly directed at everyone, not just authors who perpetuate the culture with characters like this – but at the very least can we recognize the contradiction of hundreds of thousands of females claiming to be “not like other girls” in a chorus? And why is it so mandatory for women to internalize that kind of hate for our gender, for “girly” things, like it’s the only way to be validated or seen as worthy?

“Yes, those other girls are awful, but not me. I’m special. I like beer and football and can kill spiders.” 

What we really should be doing is saying we are not whatever idea of what being a girl has been constructed to be for us by society, media, etc. Very few of us are that constructed image. We, for some reason, accept it to be true of other females, but not ourselves. “They are like other girls, but not me!”

We should be recognizing that’s bullshit. It’s a fucking lie. And authors should be writing characters that are not dialled up to eleven with all these “not like other girls” traits, and instead try to create robust female characters who feel human because they can comfortably exist within their own personalities without pointing out how interesting we should think they are because they have tattoos or ride a motorcycle.

Also, Merri and Finley aren’t doing anyone any favours by not dumping their cheating boyfriends, and being all wishy-washy on taking these assholes back. It would have been nice to see female characters standing up for how they want to be loved. Just saying.

Thank you for listening.

*gets off of soapbox*

end rant GIF

I like the small-town feel this novel has. It’s a little bit like a magical, depressive Stars Hollow. It’s got the wise old lady, the veteran detective, the handsome bartender, flawed and grieving parents and some country-bumpkins living in the sticks. What more could you want?

Though I did like the characters and the setting quite a bit, I found a lot of the narrative to be filled with overly indulgent scenes focussed on family and personal crises that, to me, didn’t add to the story but took away from the pacing. I have seen a lot of reviews saying this was a good thing for the readers who had experience with The Hollows and had wanted to see that evolution of character development and relationships. And all that may very well be true, but for a first-time reader, it just came across as unnecessary filler.

There are three main POVs in the book, one of which is that of an abducted girl, Penny. And given that we have so much insight into where she is and what is happening to her, this really took any mystery out of the story for me. It turned into less of a “where is Abbey?” storyline, and into something more along the lines of “when are they going to find her?” It turned into a waiting game of Finley figuring out what her psychic powers were trying to tell her.

And this brings me to why I don’t like psychic themed novels in the first place. There is no way to create a mystery that is an engaging puzzle that isn’t predictable when the characters can see the past and present or can talk to ghosts. You either end up being told the answers to the mystery too early, or you get useless vision clues that amount to nothing more than, “I can tell the children used to play video games in this room.

unimpressed GIF

There was a lot going on this novel, lots of subplots and characters and information to soak up that most of the time was useless to the outcome, so there was a bit of a disappointed feeling for me when I finished the book because I definitely thought it was going to be something different, and felt that it didn’t reach its full potential.

It’s not a bad story, and I know I’m a raging negative review monster, but this book didn’t totally click for me. It had some good points, some bad points. Just overall I’m going to have to give it a Bernie Sanders meh.

🔪🔪🔪


Untitled

In this explosive psychological thriller by New York Timesbestselling author Lisa Unger, a young woman’s mysterious gift forces her into the middle of a dangerous investigation of a little girl’s disappearance.

For as long as she can remember, twenty-year-old Finley Montgomery has been able to see into the future. She dreams about events before they occur and sees beyond the physical world, unconsciously using her power to make supernatural things happen.

But Finley can’t control these powers—and there’s only one person who can help. So Finley moves to The Hollows, a small town in upstate New York where her grandmother lives, a renowned seer who can finally teach Finley how to use her gift.

A gift that is proving to be both a blessing and a curse, as Finley lands in the middle of a dangerous investigation involving a young girl who has been missing for ten months and the police have all but given up hope.

With time running out there’s only so much Finley can do as The Hollows begins to reveal its true colors. As she digs deeper into the town and its endless layers, nothing is what it seems. But one thing is clear: The Hollows gets what it wants, no matter what.

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OPENING HOOK: Tediously attention-grabbing MAIN CHARACTER: "I see dead people"-ing it PLOT TWISTY-NESS: How twisty can it be when everyone is a goddamn psychic? 🌟🌟🌟🔪 ____ I don't know why I keep trying books with psychic characters. I never like them very much because either the answers are revealed too early or you end up with pointless visions as clues like, "oh yes I can tell the kids used to play video games in here." 😴 This reads like a standalone but apparently it has a deep history in other books I've never read, so perhaps that accounts for my rating. Bottomline is I closed this book feeling like it didn't reach its potential, but also kind of giving it a Bernie Sanders "meh." It's not bad, it's not great. There are multiple POVs, one of which is a girl who basically tells you everything that's going on with the mystery so this is less of a "who done it?" and more of a "when are the kids going to be found?" Your just waiting for all the psychics to figure out their psychic clues and find the abducted kids. With that said, I want to make a point about what the main character got me thinking about. First of all, I HATE when authors try to shove down my throat how cool and "not like other girls" a female character is. She's got tattoos and rides a motorcycle and dyes her hair pink and is in her 20s with left over teen angst? How riveting! Don't forget to have a bunch of characters reference that she's a spitfire and one in a million! I would like to naturally determine a character's vibe through genuine characters. Second, what's wrong with "other girls"? Why is it normal to internalize hate for our own gender, for "girly" things? "Yep, those other girls are awful, but not me!!!" What we really should be doing is recognizing that these ideas are constructed lies. And if we don't believe them of ourselves, why do we believe them of other females? I'd like to see an author not dialup the "not like other girls" tropes to eleven, but instead create robust female characters who can comfortably exist within their own personalities without trying SO hard. *Full soapbox rant on my blog 💻 #books #bookreview #booknerd #bookstagrammer #bookstagram

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