Title: HEARTBEAT by Elizabeth Scott
Pub Date: January 28, 2014
ARC received from Harlequin Teen in exchange for an honest review.
Dannie says: I wanted to fall in love with the MC more, but can I keep Caleb?
Life. Death. And...Love?
Emma would give anything to talk to her mother one last time. Tell her about her slipping grades, her anger with her stepfather, and the boy with the bad reputation who might be the only one Emma can be herself with.
But Emma can't tell her mother anything. Because her mother is brain-dead and being kept alive by machines for the baby growing inside her.
Meeting bad-boy Caleb Harrison wouldn't have interested Old Emma. But New Emma-the one who exists in a fog of grief, who no longer cares about school, whose only social outlet is her best friend Olivia-New Emma is startled by the connection she and Caleb forge. Feeling her own heart beat again wakes Emma from the grief that has grayed her existence. Is there hope for life after death-and maybe, for love?
WHAT I LIKED
The narrative voice is a like instead of a love for me--I like the adolescent authenticity, but the voice itself didn't really stand out from a lot of Contemporary YA I've read recently the way the John Greens and Rainbow Rowells of the world do.
WHAT I LOVED
The premise. What a heartwreching, ante-upping twist on the dead YA parent trope. More than anything, the hook of this story is what kept me reading to the very end.
The step-father's character--and I won't say anything more so as not to spoil anything for anyone, but I like that he's not the complete villain the vast majority of YA stepparents are made out to be.
The LI--I'm a sucker for a misunderstood badboy, and Caleb definitely fits the mold. But he also breaks it--which is what makes me really love him. The author did a great job of weaving their stories together in a way that made their coming together make sense, making the romantic subplot one of my favorite parts of this read.
WHAT I WANTED MORE OF
A more likable MC: I get the fact that the MC is angry. I write about angry, bitter, heartbroken teens, too. But to validate her stakes and make me invested in her story, she needs to have some sort of redeeming quality, something to champion. For me, I struggled to find a reason to want this particular MC to "win" until the very end. I felt like she was too pitiful.
Less internal monologue--because the MC is so depressed and has wholeheartedly embraced the idea of isolating herself, there are lengthy sections of narrative paragraph where the MC doesn't interact with any other characters. This combined with her wholly negative personality dramatically slowed the pace for me at times.
Despite this, though, I kept reading to the very end--something I was under no obligation to do--because I was really invested in the story's outcome. And that, my friends, is what a killer premise/hook is all about.
Short story long, I'm iffy on this one, but not to iffy to finish reading it. Pick up a copy and let me know what you think! Buy links are below!