Friday, July 25, 2014

Review: The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco

Posted by

I received this book for free from Sourcebooks Fire in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Girl from the Well by Rin ChupecoThe Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on August 5th 2014
Genres: Horror, Supernatural, YA
Source: Sourcebooks Fire
Buy on Amazon

You may think me biased, being murdered myself. But my state of being has nothing to do with the curiosity toward my own species, if we can be called such. We do not go gentle, as your poet encourages, into that good night.

A dead girl walks the streets.

She hunts murderers. Child killers, much like the man who threw her body down a well three hundred years ago.

And when a strange boy bearing stranger tattoos moves into the neighborhood so, she discovers, does something else. And soon both will be drawn into the world of eerie doll rituals and dark Shinto exorcisms that will take them from American suburbia to the remote valleys and shrines of Aomori, Japan.

Because the boy has a terrifying secret - one that would just kill to get out.

The Girl from the Well is A YA Horror novel pitched as "Dexter" meets "The Grudge", based on a well-loved Japanese ghost story.

Even with the great premise and creepy as heck scenes throughout, I can’t say I liked this one much, unfortunately. Though this is all due to the writing, and if you’re a fan of it you will have a much better experience with this book than I.

The writing is one that, although may work for some, I could never get used to. The narrative voices (plural because I “think” there were more than 1, but I’m not 100% sure…) are in 3rd person which is always harder for me to connect with regardless, but in this case even more so because of this particular all-knowing perspective the author adopts. Then when you add in the fact that the perspective changes – often abruptly without a chapter change or even a break in-between paragraphs – the result made me feel rather disjointed. I was not a big fan of the “quirks” in the writing, either. The ghost’s counting and jumbled thought process was likely meant to give the book some personality and character, but all it amounted to was getting me annoyed. The counting could be especially distracting:

He parks his white car at one corner of the street, and strolls toward where the crowd of people (fifty- seven) have gathered, watching in fascination as medical personnel (four) wheel out a large gurney that carries something (one) large and bulky, hidden from view by a large black blanket.

Then there’s the Japanese terms throughout that only come with brief explanations that we’re expected to remember for future references. Well, I did not, so a lot of the folklore mumbo jumbo went over my head. Also, and this is likely only in the ARC, but the formatting was off at times where sentences would be cut in 2-3 lines (even the print ARC). At least, I’m hoping it was a formating glitch and not intentional.. Obviously, the writing overall did not make a fan out of me.

Likely related as well, but the characters also failed to compel me. I quickly grew bored with almost every character we met to the exception of Tark’s mom, who was kind of fascinating, if a bit creepy. Tark himself, though, I had a hard time even grasping his personality. I don’t feel I got to know him at all; he was simply a player in this game – a piece of the puzzle – and nothing more. Callie was a bit easier to read, but she still felt underdeveloped. The ghost girl was the most defined. I at least felt sympathy towards her situation and like I understood her, and I was definitely rooting for her when she went all Grudge-like – even if it was terrifying (and awesome!).

The one thing Chupeco did write to my liking were the horror scenes. These were terrifying and so vivid I wanted to sleep with the light on afterwards. It also has its fair share of gore. Not overwhelmingly so, but enough to let you know this was no child’s book. Like I mentioned, the premise of this story is excellent for horror fans. It’s a mix between The Ring, The Grudge, and Dexter – quite a mash-up but it works. As a purely horror tale this book does a pretty good job of being horrific, leaving us with eerie mental images to disturb our sleep.

If I could have gotten used to the writing style, and If we had flown more smoothly between the perspectives, or even the story lines (we’d go from Tark’s story to the ghost’s killing spree in a quick jerk), I would have definitely loved this one. But as it lay, I could not, for the life of me, immerse myself fully in this book. I loved the horror scenes, but everything else became a chore to read as I grew more and more bored of these characters. When you don’t care who lives or dies, a horror book ends up being quite lifeless. If you want to try it out, you should know by chapter 3 if the writing is for you or not.


2 Hot Espressos

The following two tabs change content below.
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.

Latest posts by Giselle (see all)

13 Responses to “Review: The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco”

  1. Nick @ Nick's Book Blog

    I am so sad to hear this wasn’t a success for you, Giselle. I was looking forward to reading it because look at that blurb and that cover, but now that both you and Jenni had issues with the writing style, I’m going to skip it. I would definitely be annoyed with the 3rd person POV and the sudden switch in POVs. Gosh. Who thought that was a good idea? Sometimes, simple writing has the most impact, especially with horror stories. The characters don’t sound compelling either and while the horror scenes seem well-written, I don’t think that’s going to make up for all the other issues for me.
    Lovely review, Giselle!

  2. Giovana @ Corazones Literarios

    I’m not fond to horror books, actually I avoid them with all my heart… But even if I could think about read one, it wouldn’t be this. As you, I can’t stand the abruptly switch of POVs… I did read a book like than and give me headache… I mean, who was editor that thinks it was good idea to let the readers have kind of thing?

    Anyway, thanks for your review!!

  3. P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex

    That’s useful to hear. I’m not always the biggest fan of 3rd person either, and I’ll keep in mind that if I don’t like the writing early on, it probably won’t get better. The Japanese terms that were thrown in kind of reminds me of how I felt in Stormdancer. I was so lost and it drove me crazy. And I’m not sure I think horror works in books… I guess I’m leaning towards pass when it comes to this one, unless the rest of the reviews I read are overwhelmingly positive.

  4. Zoe @ The Infinite To-Read Shelf

    Aww…I’m sorry this was a disappointment Giselle. 🙁 I can definitely see why you felt this way though. All the jumping around with the POVs can definitely be confusing, so that’s definitely a problem in the making. At least the actual horror content was good though! Thanks for sharing, and, as always, BRILLIANT review! <3

  5. Dea S.

    I’m sorry didn’t work out for you! I do read books with quirky writing, but multiple POV’s coupled with the unusual writing? I can understand why that would be confusing. I hope you’ll have more luck with your next read and like it! Thanks for the lovely and honest review!

  6. Fran

    I know where you are coming from with this book review. When I saw this book at BEA I was so excited. I remember constantly running to the booth to make sure it would not miss out on the coffee. The lady was so sweet she mailed me a copy after BEA ended.
    I began reading it and it first I was like “Hmmm..not that bad.” It definitely was not what I was expecting. I was thinking it would be like “The Grudge”.
    I have yet to finish reading, so I think by the time I am done I will have a better idea of what exactly is not clicking with me as far as this book goes.
    There have been books that I have loved- that you have not. I always love to read your reviews (even though we differ sometimes) I love your reasons for why you did not like them. Does that make sense? Lol

    I have been resisting reading reviews about this book, but I had to see what you said.

    Did you pick up “Positive” by Paige Rawl (Harper)? It’s different from what I normally read. I just finished it and I have to say I truly love this book.

  7. Fran

    Lolz… I just reread my comment after I posted it….I meant to say I kept going back for the book- not coffee. I wish they had coffee that Thursday & Saturday!!

    • Giselle

      Lol !I read it as some kind of idiom like “I didn’t wanna miss the boat” so I think we both need that coffee! 😀 And I haven’t read Positive but I have it from BEA. I grabbed that one at random and had no clue was it was even about. I’ll have to check it out! And I hope you do end up loving this one. I think if you click with the writing it would be a totally different experience than I had!

  8. Pili

    I was quite excited to read some reviews about this one, cause it sounded like a very interesting book but now I feel like I might just give it a pass because 1) I’m a total wuss and uncapable to watch any of the movies the book reminded you of, so I don’t to lose sleep for weeks! And 2) The weird formating really puts me off, I don’t like being reeling and confused trying all the time to figure out what happened, when we change perspectives.
    Great review, Giselle!