Thursday, February 4, 2016

Review: The Mystery of Hollow Places by Rebecca Podos

Title: The Mystery of Hollow Places
Author: Rebecca Podos
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery
Source: Balzer + Bray via Edelweiss

All Imogene Scott knows of her mother is the bedtime story her father told her as a child. It's the story of how her parents met: he, a forensic pathologist, she, a mysterious woman who came to identify a body. A woman who left Imogene and her father when she was a baby, a woman who was always possessed by a powerful loneliness, a woman who many referred to as troubled waters.

When Imogene is seventeen, her father, now a famous author of medical mysteries, strikes out in the middle of the night and doesn't come back. Neither Imogene's stepmother nor the police know where he could've gone, but Imogene is convinced he's looking for her mother. She decides to put to use the skills she's gleaned from a lifetime of her father's books to track down a woman she's never known, in order to find him and, perhaps, the answer to the question she's carried with her for her entire life.

Rebecca Podos' debut is a powerful, affecting story of the pieces of ourselves that remain mysteries even to us - the desperate search through empty spaces for something to hold on to.
Review by Nara

The Mystery of Hollow Places is a strange book which I initially thought would be a bit of a magical realism novel but then turned out to be a weird mystery that had less substance than I thought it would have. I'm not really sure I enjoyed it that much. This is mostly because the main character was kind of annoying. The story was oddly compelling though, and I did want to read it to find out what happens. I have to say the ending wasn't the big payoff I expected, leaving me less than satisfied.

The book focuses mainly on the protagonist, Imogene, attempting to find her parents- both of whom are missing. Her mother left the family before the start of the book when Immy was young, and her father goes missing at the very beginning of the novel, setting off a chain of events where Immy wants to find her mother in order to find her father. On the whole, the plot didn't have very much substance, and the pace was quite slow, making a relatively grueling read, and I have to admit that I was skimming a fair bit of the book. There were a number of flashbacks/memories relating to Immy’s relationship with her father, and none of these really interested me, instead contributing to bogging down the pace.

Immy herself was an interesting character in that she was clearly quite flawed, but there was a sort of acknowledgement of those flaws as she herself realises the mistakes that she makes. Still, these decisions made her somewhat annoying, and I had difficulty connecting with her as a character. The secondary characters were relatively well developed, including her best friend Jessa (full name Jenessa- such a unique name), who was supportive but also realistic and didn't just go along with everything Immy wanted.

I feel like I wasn't sure what I was expecting from The Mystery of Hollow Places, but it wasn't the slow mystery that I ended up getting. Perhaps those who know what they're getting into will enjoy the book more.

It was okay
Overall: 5/10
Plot: 2/5
Writing: 3/5
Characters: 3/5
Cover: 3/5