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Switched by Amanda Hocking
‘Switched’ features main character Wendy, a teen girl who has never seemed to fit in anywhere or with anyone. In fact, she’s so different that her own mother decided she wasn’t actually her child, and tried to kill her. Now, at her new school, Wendy meets the mysterious Finn. He tells her that her thoughts of being something different might be true after all, although not in a way that she expected.
If you’ve read more than three paranormal teen novels in the past five years, you can begin to predict how this story goes. Wendy’s not normal, she finds out she has cool powers, she meets attractive boy Finn and tries not to be attracted. Once she does fall for him, he tells her not to get involved. Then, there’s lots of building up, until finally there’s a scary, panicky final outcome that has everyone running around like chickens with their heads cut off. Teen books like this are the new fad, and ‘Switched’ follows that formulated storyline almost exactly. That, paired with how the story was written, made the book incredibly predictable. Absolutely nothing was a surprise, from major things like what type of creature Wendy is (that was given away with the title) to smaller plot occurrences.
The author does seem to be trying to make things surprising. She pushes some ideas so hard it becomes annoying. For example, Wendy repeats over and over how she knows that Finn is only there for her because it’s his job. ‘I know it’s just his job,’ ‘He told me it was just for work,’ ‘I hated it when I thought of how he only did it because it was his job,’ etc. We all know where the romance in the story is, so despite trying to pound this fact into us, I can’t imagine any readers were, or will be, surprised with the way the relationship between Wendy and Finn progressed.
There was also a bit of a… well, I guess you’d call it a continuity problem, although it wasn’t exactly that. It was more a timing problem. For example, during one scene, one of the characters asks Finn why he lets another character, Elora, do ‘that creepy mind‐speak thing.’ They have this conversation right in front of Wendy, but in the next scene, Wendy asks Finn something along the lines of ‘What’s up with Elora always staring at you intently?’ and then it ‘dawns’ on her that maybe Elora is using a mind‐speak technique.
But. Despite all of these flaws, I didn’t hate the book. Actually, by the middle, I found myself enjoying it more, and by the end I realized I’d liked it. I enjoyed most of the characters‐ Rhys, Elora, Finn, Willa and Matt are pretty well thought out. Although the main plot line is predictable, it was interesting to read about Wendy’s new home and life with her mythical family, and the culture the author set up was fascinating enough. I didn’t love Wendy‐ she lets absolutely everyone push her around, and only puts up a fight about it once or twice. ‘Move away from my family and go live with a woman who can’t stand me? Okey‐doke,’ is kind of the way she is, which is really draining and exasperating. Towards the end of the book, though, she starts to think for herself, so I hope that in the next two books, she develops into a more likeable character.
Was the book terrible? No. Was it great? No. For an author who has already sold a million online copies, I was surprised with the poor quality of the story building and writing. However, I think I probably will read the next book in the trilogy, when it comes out, because this first one was just interesting enough, and I feel the need to know what happens to the characters.
As an update, several years later‐ I read the rest of this series, and I really, really enjoyed it. The predictability that was so rampant in the first book mellows out, more characters and secrets and situations are introduced, and I just really liked how the rest of the plot was handled. This is a trilogy that’s well worth reading.
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