Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Impossible, by Nancy Werlin

Published in Australia by Penguin, 2010

Another book for teens dealing with true love and the supernatural. This one is refreshing in that it is not about vampires or fallen angels or faeries – it has more of a folksy feel, the ‘love’ has been developing since the two protagonists were both kids, and it just feels softer somehow, not so in your face. It is refreshingly different but not entirely successful.

Nancy Werlin’s Impossible concerns seventeen year old Lucy Scarborough and her quest to break a curse that has been in her family for generations. Pregnant by supernatural forces, she must complete three seemingly impossible tasks or fall into insanity. Having seen what the ‘curse’ has done to her mother, Lucy is desperate to prevent it from affecting her and, in turn, her unborn child. It is only the love of her family and childhood friend Zach that give her the strength to fight back and ‘take her destiny into her own hands.’

For a book that revolves around the breaking of a supernatural curse, it is a bit disconcerting that the quest to break this curse only begins well after the halfway mark. For this reason the blending of the real and the supernatural isn’t quite seamless, with a tendency to feel tacked on in parts for the advancement of the story. To me, there is too great a divide between reality and fantasy, and I cannot combine the two without some suspension of belief. Whilst I have problems with some other YA paranormal romance, I think that for the most part you are immersed in the supernatural side straight away, which helps you better step into the shoes of the characters.

In regards to the ‘reality’ parts, characters also spend far too much time thinking through problems and having internal monologues, often to the detriment of the plot, as these thoughts end up being irrelevant. Maybe it does help character development but I just wanted to tell them to hurry up and get on with it.

Werlin’s writing is quite evocative and dreamy, which suits the folksy romantic elements of the book. I love folk songs so it was nice to see Scarborough Fair make an appearance, but I don’t think Werlin tapped into the true potential of it. (Jon Mayhew, in Mortlock, uses folk songs much better, even if only in quotation/epitaph style).

There are some nice, recognisable teenage love/lust moments between Lucy and Zach and in the last quarter of the book the pacing picks up considerably as Lucy struggles to complete the three tasks. A familiarity between Lucy and her audience, however, is never quite established, and for this reason her story lacks true folksy magic.

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