These Shallow Graves

Author: Jennifer Donnelly
Rating: 3 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

I am not sure where the idea arose, but somehow I thought this novel was going to be about zombies.  You’ve got a hand reaching out of a book cover with the word Graves on it.  The opening chapter is people digging up graves looking for specific bodies.  So I guess my mind immediately went to zombies.

This novel is not about zombies.  Not one bit.  I think it may have been better if it had been.  Instead, it is a historical young adult crime mystery as Jo tries to find out the truth about the suspicious circumstances behind her father’s death.  I think if the plot had been thinned out a little and some of the factors condensed a bit, it would have made a good mystery.   Unfortunately, the mystery feels a bit drawn out with so many different characters and identities over a long span of time that it’s difficult to keep track of who is who and what we know of/what we think of everyone, which makes it feel a bit tedious.

The romance in the story does not help.  Jo finds herself in a cliche young adult love triangle, torn between the high society beau she’s expected to marry (who I think is her cousin?!?!) and the “from-the-wrong-side-of-the-tracks” reporter she’s gallivanting around town with to try to solve the case of her father’s death.  This novel is almost 500 pages long, and I think if Donnelly had chopped out the romance that didn’t seem to add much to the plot in my opinion, it would have kept the suspense behind the murder mystery going a little better.

Overall, it isn’t a bad story.  The ending wasn’t what I expected, although one of the main twists did feel a bit predictable once it was revealed.  It was light on the suspense, which prevented it from being a stay up under the covers novel, but it was a well thought out, well written story and Jo’s character is likable and definitely relatable and a new adult female.  It was just missing that little something extra to make it stand out.

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