Friday, July 06, 2012

Review: The Little Woods

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The Little Woods
McCormick Templeman 
Release date: July 10th 2012
by Random House Children’s Books


Are the woods behind St. Bede’s Academy really haunted, or does bad stuff just happen there? When Calista Wood, a new student, arrives midway through her junior year, St. Bede’s feels like a normal school . . . until she discovers that a girl had disappeared a couple of months earlier. Some kids think she ran away, others think she was murdered, but it’s only when Cally starts digging around that she finds the startling truth.

Watch as Cally enters a world of privilege, weekend-long parties, high school romances, and . . . well-kept secrets. This page-turner will appeal to teens looking for a fast-paced thriller. Written in a voice at once gripping and crystal clear, debut novelist, McCormick Templeman, will take readers on a twisting and turning journey as only a “new girl” can experience. 

*A copy was provided by Random House Children’s Books for review purposes*
An eerie setting, a boarding school, a few missing girls – where do I sign up? I love the idea of this book, the vibe throughout is mysterious and slightly creepy. Yeah, maybe it wasn’t perfect, it needed better characterization and some things made the plot feel a bit discombobulated, but I had a good time.

Those who enjoy thrillers, mysteries, and everything creepy will undoubtedly love the atmosphere we get inside this novel. I think, in particular, those who haven’t read many books in the genre will be the ones to truly get lost in this story. Being an avid reader of thrillers, myself, I felt it was missing a little… something. The whole plot is very ordinary; we’ve got a typical mystery with predictable twists. Nothing makes it truly shine from all the rest. I found a lot of aspects unnecessary as well, where I kept wondering why these were added to the plot at all. Cheating, drugs, and sex, for example, which I have absolutely no problem with in YA novels as I find it makes them realistic and often relatable, I didn’t see the appeal in this case. Likewise, so many directionless bits (including seemingly random mentions of goddesses) are smushed inside this book which is already filled with more than enough betrayals, murders, mysteries, and secrets. I simply found a lot of it irrelevant for both plot and characterization, giving us nothing more than a whole bunch of superfluous information. For instance: Cally almost shaving her head. Was this supposed to fortify her already confusing personality? Or was it simply an uncalled for act of rebellion? There is also the big mystery element of the Woods itself that I thought would be examined further, yet it never goes beyond these singular occurrences. While the mystery we get is fun, chilling, and entertaining — easily 3-star worthy –, I had the impression it would be much grander. Instead of making it so crowded, strengthening the characters would have helped garner the strong impact intended.

The fact that it’s not a very character-oriented plot definitely makes the lack of character building easy to overlook. The main character, Cally, is extremely hard to identify with. Getting a feel of her personality is next to impossible, but I do admit to enjoying what I did perceive. She has an easygoing style that I was quickly attuned to. Although she’s incredibly naive when it comes to boys and relationships, I think we’ve all done stupid mistakes at that age, making it easy to understand her even when we want to slap her silly. The other characters, to be honest, I kept confusing who was who. No one particularly stands out, which is not a very big deal in a thriller such as this. Their purpose is for dramatic effects, for which it succeeds.

Dramatic, creepy, with enjoyable twists, The Little Woods is perfect for those who like thrillers that are spooky, but still lets you sleep well at night.

3 Hot Espressos
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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.
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27 Responses to “Review: The Little Woods”

  1. Nicole Spencer

    Mm. I’m not sure this is something I’d necessarily pick up, since I get very easily freaked out by creepy books and they give me nightmares. Great review though, and it does sound quite interesting!

  2. Danny

    Glad you liked it so much!!! I didn’t had this book on my radar and would have totally dismissed it. But I do love Boarding Schools -I don’t know I just do! 🙂

    I don’t like when Characters are two one-dimensional that you even cannot recall their names and mix them up…
    But other than this is sounds great!

  3. Nick

    Creepy books are awesome! I like that this one has a mysterious vibe to it. It’s too bad that there are lots of unnecessary bits though. I wouldn’t enjoy that too. Plus, it sucks that you confused some of the characters. I’m glad that you liked it overall though ! 🙂
    Awesome review, Giselle ! 😉 Your reviews always rock ! 😉

  4. Amy

    I am going to be reading this one soon. I have a few blog tour books to read first and then this one is coming up. It’s too bad that the characterization is lacking and there is unnecessary stuff thrown in. It sounds like a cool story though. I love books where the characters go to boarding schools and weird stuff happens.

  5. booktasty

    I got this one from NetGalley but haven’t read it yet. In fact
    I’d forgotten it was on my kindle! Thanks for the reminder because I want to
    Read it! 🙂

  6. Leanna (Daisy Chain Book Reviews)

    I let this one go and expire on me even though it sounded like a book I’d really like. I think I let the ‘only so-so’ reviews I saw of it around the place put me off a little, but I might try and check it out sometime. I like creepy books!

  7. Mimi Valentine

    Oh, yay! I don’t read very many thrillers and such even though I loooooove creepy mysteries (they’re the best kinds!), so I think this book would definitely be right up my alley! 😉 I like it when YA books feel realistic in the teen setting too because all that stuff really does happen. It’s too bad that the characters are hard to distinguish, but I’m glad it’s not a HUGE deal 🙂

    Thanks so much for the amazing honest review, Giselle! <3

  8. Hannah Doermann

    Hmm… I was super excited for this book, but characters are really important to me, so I don’t know if I’ll enjoy it now… I think I’ll still read it, though, just for the creepy mystery – I love that kind of stuff 🙂 Great review!

  9. Sam

    There’s just something about the mention of a boarding school that grabs me every time. I love the premise for this! It’s a shame there were so many irrelevant parts squeezed into the plot for no apparent reason, but I do still like the sound of this book. Mysteries and thrillers aren’t books I read all too often but I do find then intriguing. Great review, Giselle! 🙂

  10. Katie @ BlookGirl

    Hmmm. I love thrillers/suspense novels and had my eye on this one. I may still read it, despite it’s predictability and oddness.

    Great review, love muffin! 🙂

  11. Rachel

    I just love this cover. Too bad the insides weren’t quite what you were hoping for. Thanks for the honest and informative review, Giselle. 🙂

  12. Shooting Stars Mag

    I love character-driven books, but I guess for something like this, it DOES make sense that it wouldn’t focus too much on them. I went to high school with a Calista though and I always loved that name. LOL


  13. Aneeqah

    I don’t really think that I’ll be picking this up. The synopsis made it sound like “oh-my-goodness-I-need-this-book-now” type thing, but after reading your review, I’m debating reading this one. It just seems like a “meh” book. Characters are always so important for me in a book, and even though I love a good mystery, I really think that the lack of characterization would ruin this book for me.

    Thanks for the helpful review, Giselle! <3

    -Aneeqah @ My Not So Real Life

  14. Natalia Belikov @ Dazzling Reads

    Thnx for the honest review my dear. I was wondering how good was this one. It seems that it is enjoyable creepy but still nothing too wow. Too bad the characters are not very likable XD
    thnx for the great review my dear! muah!

  15. Suzanne @ Paranormal Book Fan

    I don’t think I like the sound of this one. I like to connect with the protag and really get a feel for them. It also really annoys me when I can’t remember who is who character wise. Think I’ll be giving this one a miss. Great review.

  16. Camille Picott

    “Written in a voice at once gripping and crystal clear, debut novelist, McCormick Templeman, will take readers on a twisting and turning journey as only a “new girl” can experience.”

    I get annoyed with book descriptions like this. I feel like the publisher is trying to “sell” me, which drives me crazy. If the book is good, I don’t need to be sold. (end rant…!)

    Great review!

  17. Alexa

    I have a difficult time with novels where the main character isn’t relatable. I love character-driven stories, so it’ll present a problem for me when it comes to this one. However, I do like reading a creepy novel or two so I might check this one out.

  18. Leanne

    Even though this novel doesn’t look like it would be my cup of tea I’m still pleased you enjoyed this and had fun with it. 🙂 Excellent review, Giselle.

    And I love, love the cover. The colour contrast is gorgeous and the trees look bizarre, but actually in a good way. 🙂

  19. Candace

    I just read another review for this one that was a bit similar as far as how you both felt about it. I think the lack of good characterization might ruin it for me. However the mystery sounds very interesting!