Review: Stitch by Samantha Durante

title:  Stitch

author: Samantha Durante

pages: 322

format: Paperback

isbn/asin: 978-0985804602

buy it: Amazon  Goodreads

rating: 3.5/5 [in the genre] or 6/10 [all books I’ve ever read].

recommended for:  Fans of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and Divergent by Veronica Roth.  Romance lovers who like their stories to have some action and adventure too.  Anyone looking for a quick, fun read.

My Ratings Explained

Her heart races, her muscles coil, and every impulse in Alessa's body screams at her to run... but yet she's powerless to move.

Still struggling to find her footing after the sudden death of her parents, the last thing college freshman Alessa has the strength to deal with is the inexplicable visceral pull drawing her to a handsome ghostly presence. In between grappling with exams and sorority soirees - and disturbing recurring dreams of being captive in a futuristic prison hell - Alessa is determined to unravel the mystery of the apparition who leaves her breathless. But the terrifying secret she uncovers will find her groping desperately through her nightmares for answers.

Because what Alessa hasn't figured out yet is that she's not really a student, the object of her obsession is no ghost, and her sneaking suspicions that something sinister is lurking behind the walls of her university's idyllic campus are only just scratching the surface...

The opening installment in a twist-laden trilogy, Stitch spans the genres of paranormal romance and dystopian sci-fi to explore the challenges of a society in transition, where morality, vision, and pragmatism collide leaving the average citizen to suffer the results.

the basics
This is one of those books that I liked more the more I read it.  It's an exciting read that twists you around and makes you wonder, with the characters, what's true and what's not.  The science-fiction aspect was much stronger than the paranormal, but I liked that.  It also dips its toes into the New Adult class with a story that bases itself in romance but also broadly explores the crash of a world and the 1984-ish rebuilding.  I thought the prose could have been tightened more pre-publication, but it's clear that Durante has talent.  Her latter scenes in the dystopian world are much stronger and hopefully reflective of what the sequel will look like.  Overall, I really enjoyed the book and hope that Shudder hangs on to the parts that were strongest here and shows Durante's growth as a writer too.  The end definitely left me wanting to know more. 

plot . 3/5
I wish there had been no prologue, but even so, the plot really packs a punch.  You start with Alessa, orphaned college student, wondering at the ghostly apparition she's been seeing.  The sci-fi comes in when she begins to think that maybe her ghost is actually a vision of a real past person through a wormhole.  Only don't get comfortable there!  Durante jerks you around and reveals something even more sinister--a dystopian government, a rebel force, a horrifying technology that can override our most basic memories.  I won't give it away, but it's a satisfying turn.  I wish she'd explore the dramas more, because I think that's really the best and most original part of this story.  I hope to see more of it in Shudder.  I got a little hung up on the extent of all the flashbacks.  It was a little difficult to figure out where I was sometimes.  

concept . 5/5
The concept for this book masquerades as a paranormal romance of the ghost story variety but it's actually a clever dystopian sci-fi.  Trust me, it works.  I think the flashbacks could be blended a little more smoothly to make the relationship between the two less obvious.  But overall, it's a clever spin on the popular dystopian genre.  The idea of "stitching," fiddling with memories, is a really clever one.  Scientifically, you'll have to suspend some disbelief, but do that and it's really a cool set-up.  The idea of the "dramas" is also incredibly intriguing and was one of the main hooks that kept me curious and reading.  I didn't catch on to those right away and the reveal was very satisfying.  

characters . 4/5
I had a harder time bonding with Alessa than with Isaac or Janie.  The latter two seemed pretty distinct and interesting, with unique voices.  They just seem vibrant, and I responded to that as a reader.  Alessa, at times, felt flatter.  She was a newly orphaned young adult in love with a ghost--interesting, but I felt like, at times, her situation defined her more than her traits.  I would have liked to see her character show through more deeply.  Unique speech patterns.  Inner thoughts that ran more deeply than the confusion with Isaac.  Emotion, I think, was the biggest one.  She just didn't seem as emotional as I would have expected.  I think I liked her more in the second half, when she seemed more vibrant and more colorful.  

style . 3/5
The style showed a lot of promise but still needed a little more.  I tend to be pretty picky when it comes to prose, so I like to see a lot of polishing, adjectives pruned, every word clearly there for a purpose.  There just seemed to be too many extra descriptions that didn't need to be in there.  Actually, it reminded me of the prose in Twilight, so if you like that kind of writing, then forget my critique because you'll love this.  I liked it, I just didn't love it.  I could see Durante's writerly strengths shining through in many of the later dystopian scenes, which seemed more concise and more carefully constructed, and I really wanted to see that throughout.  That said, Durante's work has some beautiful descriptions and the voice really feels appropriate for the age of the character, which is something that not all authors can master.  

mechanics . 3/5
Again, I thought some of the extra words could have been cut to make the prose flow more smoothly.  

take home message
A genre-bending story with a twisty plot, a clever concept, and an ending that will make you pray for the sequel.  

Note: I received this copy free from the author.  The price of the book and its origin in no way affected my stated opinions.

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