Monday, 18 July 2011

review: Whisper

by Phoebe Kitanidis
Balzer + Bray, 2010
young adult urban fantasy

Like all the women in her fmaily, Joy can hear the Whispers of others: the desires, wants and wishes of the people around her. But while Joy uses her Hearing to make her friends happy, her older sister Jessica, who sees it as a curse, has used it to ruin Joy's life ever since they started drifting apart as kids. Abruptly Joy's Hearing grows stronger, at the same time Jessica disappears. And Joy knows the Whispers she hears from her sister -- I want to kill my Hearing dead, and kill me too if that's what it takes -- may be prophesizing what will happen to Jessica if Joy doesn't get to her on time.
The cover:

Using the same font for the title and author name is something I wish I see more of, so kudos to the book designer! (But not for using Times New Roman as the blurb font. *shudder*) The wisps (of smoke? steam? echoes?) behind the title really accentuate the cover, but the girl spoils it. This book has nothing to do with eyes or lips or noses or faces, so why the close-up?

The book:

We don't exactly start off on a bright note with the main characters; having the protag fight with her sister doesn't tend to make either of them likeable, even though Jessica's cat in a worse light than Joy. (Her nickname's "Icka"... I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.)

Then there were the usual problems: detailing how the protag lived life with the power, the usual diversion of cute boys, and a not-so-subtle hint at who the real love interest would end up being. The first of those problems might not have been a problem, really, if Kitanidis had gone more in-depth with the history of the Hearing -- same goes for the power of the lead male.

Things pick up in the last third, however, where Joy finally makes it out of domestic life and into an actually interesting situation. A race against time will usually do the trick, as does a unique love interest. He may have been hinted at unsubtly, but I still adore Jamie. We need more guys like him -- sweet, sensitive and chivalrous. (Seriously, bad boys are oooverrated.) (Okay, he's a stoner too, but I'm sure he grows out of that.)

In the end, the theme of family was perhaps the most surprising aspect. There are a lot of lies stretched between Joy and her family, almost beyond the point of believability; trust is drawn taut until it snaps. I think Whisper is about recovering those bonds. It's definitely a book that gets better as you read.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5