Book Breakup: Hidden by Marianne Curley

I’ve been waiting eight years for Marianne Curley to write another book. So I’m kind of gutted that when it finally arrived, I meandered through to 40% before deciding to put it aside.

For as long as Ebony can remember, she’s been sheltered. Confined to her home in a secluded valley, home-schooled by her protective parents, and limited to a small circle of close friends. It’s as if she’s being hidden. But something is changing in Ebony. Something that can’t be concealed. She’s growing more beautiful by the day, she’s freakishly strong, and then there’s the fact that she’s glowing.

On one fateful night, Ebony meets Jordan and she’s intensely drawn to him. It’s as if something explodes inside of her–something that can be seen from the heavens. Ebony still doesn’t know that she’s a stolen angel, but now that the heavens have found her, they want her back.

Marianne Curley was one of my favourite authors growing up. I love Old Magic and her Guardians of Time trilogy and have read them all several times, though not for many years now. I have to wonder if I’d still love them as much if I picked them up for the first time today. Would I have the same trouble with them as I did with Hidden?

Perhaps Old Magic also followed a trend at the time it was written – but at the time, it wasn’t like any other book I had read. It was a perfect combination of my favourite things: magic, romance, the good guys fighting the bad guys and a strong historical feel.

Well, not much has changed – I’ll still pick up any book that promises those things – but I’m also far more aware of what’s out there now. I know what’s popular and what’s been done to death and I know what I’m personally bored of, or turned off by, in YA. I’m (slightly) better read. And Hidden, sadly, is just too generic for me to muster any interested in it. It feels lazy to me. I got practically half way through and nothing stood out. It feels like the same story that’s been circulating the paranormal YA bookshelf for a couple of years now and I couldn’t help but compare it to more powerful writers I’ve come across since I last picked up a Curley novel.

Perhaps it was unfair of me to even request to review Hidden. I had strong misgivings just after reading the synopsis. Frankly it sounded like a book I’d hate. But I so wanted to be surprised.

Instead I was bored. Hidden fails to invoke any sort of tension or intrigue. The character’s were uninspiring, cliché and just plain forgettable. Ebony’s only attributes are that she is clumsy and awkward and has unusual, striking eyes and an unnatural strength. Jordan falls for her at first sight. He has a mysterious, tragic back-story, one he’s intent on punishing himself for for most of the book. With his typical bad boy image, Jordan is misjudged by the entire town, while Ebony is universally (we’re told) loved by it.

The dialogue is awkward and jarring. Ebony is (apparently) extremely intelligent, but comes across instead as condescending, not to mention completely unrealistic. It’s very difficult to take a sixteen-year-old protagonist seriously when she says things like:

‘Today, my beautiful friend -’ I lean forward to pat Shadow’s elegant neck and whisper in his ear – ‘you will have a chance to stretch your long Arabian legs and we will fly together as if you have wings.’

Or one who talks to her parents like this:

‘Someone blackmailed you into silence! What happened to your brains? This man didn’t want you to expose his crime so he could go on selling more stolen babies.’…

‘What about the non-belief system by which you raised me?’ …

‘I promise you both it won’t change our relationship, but you know me. You raised me to accept nothing less than facts substantiated by a second source.’

Jordan’s dialogue, on the other hand, mostly consisted of:

It’s brilliant, man’…

‘Just be straight with me dude, and we’ll get on fine.’…

Get out of here!’…

And,

‘No shit’.

There’s also some seriously clunky info-dumping, whereby two angels explain the entire back-story, and everything we need to know about their kind, to Jordan in one overly long conversation.

Hidden just isn’t for me. I expect it will go down well enough with the thirteen to sixteen year-old demographic this book is aimed at, and at the end of the day, there’s nothing wrong with that. I went through my stage of inhaling those kinds of books then too. I’ve just outgrown them.

I don’t think Hidden will reach the same popularity as other books in the genre have over the last few years. It’s too late, too tired, for that. But I wouldn’t be surprised if Hidden has it’s share of readers who enjoy it, just as I enjoyed Old Magic ten years ago.

Regardless, of how I feel about this one, Curley’s earlier books will continue to have a special place on my bookshelf. Hidden however, won’t be joining them.

*Many thanks to Bloomsbury and NetGalley for making Hidden available for review*

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