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Review: Sacred by Elana K. Arnold

Saturday, December 22, 2012
1.5 Stars: Not For Me
Hardcover: 368 Pages
Publication: November 13, 2012 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Author | Goodreads | Amazon
Growing up on Catalina Island, off the California coast, Scarlett Wenderoth has led a fairly isolated life. After her brother dies, her isolation deepens as she withdraws into herself, shutting out her friends and boyfriend. Her parents, shattered by their own sorrow, fail to notice Scarlett's pain and sudden alarming thinness. Scarlett finds pleasure only on her horse, escaping to the heart of the island on long, solitary rides. One day, as she races around a bend, Scarlett is startled by a boy who raises his hand in warning and says one word: "Stop."

The boy—intense, beautiful—is Will Cohen, a newcomer to the island. For reasons he can't or won't explain, he's drawn to Scarlett and feels compelled to keep her safe. To keep her from wasting away. His meddling irritates Scarlett, though she can't deny her attraction to him. As their relationship blossoms into love, Scarlett's body slowly awakens at Will's touch. But just when her grief begins to ebb, she makes a startling discovery about Will, a discovery he's been grappling with himself. A discovery that threatens to force them apart. And if it does, Scarlett fears she will unravel all over again.

The synopsis is mysterious. I didn't know if this was going to be a contemporary book or a paranormal book. I didn't know where it was heading, and that intrigued me. What I didn't realize was that I would finish the book still not knowing what happens.

This was a confusing book for me. There doesn't seem to be a focus for the plot except that Will and Scarlett were meant to be. The beginning was okay. It wasn't outstanding, but I could see a general course for the novel. Scarlett is depressed, anorexic, and self harms by denying her body's needs. However, the plot doesn't end with Will saving her and righting her life. It introduces a paranormal element with Will's abilities. This may still have worked with the plot; instead, it leads to difficulties in their relationship and a lot of drama that doesn't make much sense in hindsight. In short, despite the paranormal aspect of the book, this reads like a normal high school drama and not even a good one at that. There is the exposition and some rising action; however, I can't name a definite climax or change happening, the falling action takes forever, and there is no real sense of resolution. By the end, I was skimming pages in the hopes of finding some interesting development.

Honestly, Scarlett annoyed me for the most part. She doesn't treat herself well, and her relationships are a mess. She stays with Andy, though she isn't attracted to him anymore, if she ever was, and he's a jerk whose only purpose for being with her seems to be getting into her pants. She and Lily and best friends, but they mostly only hang around, talk about guys, and dress up. She is inexplicably drawn to Will from the start, and they're perfect for each other. I could overlook the instalove because Will's abilities pull him towards her, but the changes in his behavior after they begin dating are out of character. Normal jealousy I can understand, but Will typically has such good control over his behavior that his actions seem groundless and unbelievable.

In fact, the main characters are relatively unstable in their attitudes and motivations, they don't show much, if any, growth, and they fall flat for me. I do understand some of Scarlett's feelings at the beginning. However, I couldn't feel her emotions. It may have helped to know how close she was to her brother, but little information is given other than the circumstances of his death and a few other details. I can't get a feel for him as a person and how his loss would impact his family so severely.

With no clear sense of direction in the plot and with flat, unrelatable characters, Sacred rambles through a time of change in Scarlett's life. I say rambles because that's what it feels took place. There are no major developments in Scarlett's life after she dumps Andy and dates Will, and there are no periods of intense emotions that made me feel as though I was there with Scarlett. Overall, this book fell flat for me along with its characters. It just wasn't for me.

Content: Sacred deals with depression, and there is anger and some violence.

A copy of this book was provided by Random House for review.

7 comments on "Review: Sacred by Elana K. Arnold"
  1. Well, I think I saw this cover somewhere. But a different book, with a different girl standing there. I love dark contemporary reads, but this sounds like the all-too-typical paranormal read, which I am OH SO TIRED of!
    LOVED your honest review, though, Kris!
    Your reader,

    1. I love dark contemporary books too and was disappointed to find that it was another paranormal read--and such a confusing one too.

      Thanks for the comment. It's always nice to hear what readers think :)

  2. Wow the blurb intrigued me especially because I love Catalina Island but yikes, I hate to read a book and still not understand it! Plus an annoying heroine? Thanks for the honest review!


    1. Catalina Island sounds like a wonderful place. I really want to visit there one day. But yeah, I couldn't connect with the heroine at all, which is always a bad thing.

  3. This sounds like it was a pretty disappointing read. I find it utterly distracting when a plot rambles about. Makes it hard to read.

    1. Yeah, I didn't know where the plot was headed at all, even after I finished the book!

  4. Too bad it didn't turn out the way you hoped. I hate it when characters turn out annoying rather than the strong characters they are lead to be believed. I don't think I'll pick this one up anytime soon. Thanks for the honest review!

    ~ Maida


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