Friday, 11 September 2015

Review: Shutter by Courtney Alameda

Shutter by Courtney Alameda book cover

Title: Shutter
Author: Courtney Alameda
Series: Shutter, #1
Format: Hardback, owned
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
My rating: 1.5 / 5

Add to Goodreads

Micheline Helsing is a tetrachromat—a girl who sees the auras of the undead in a prismatic spectrum. As one of the last descendants of the Van Helsing lineage, she has trained since childhood to destroy monsters both corporeal and spiritual: the corporeal undead go down by the bullet, the spiritual undead by the lens. With an analog SLR camera as her best weapon, Micheline exorcises ghosts by capturing their spiritual energy on film. She's aided by her crew: Oliver, a techno-whiz and the boy who developed her camera's technology; Jude, who can predict death; and Ryder, the boy Micheline has known and loved forever.

When a routine ghost hunt goes awry, Micheline and the boys are infected with a curse known as a soulchain. As the ghostly chains spread through their bodies, Micheline learns that if she doesn't exorcise her entity in seven days or less, she and her friends will die. Now pursued as a renegade agent by her monster-hunting father, Leonard Helsing, she must track and destroy an entity more powerful than anything she's faced before . . . or die trying.

Lock, stock, and lens, she’s in for one hell of a week.

-- As seen on Goodreads

My Thoughts

Look at this cover. It’s easily one of the creepiest covers I’ve seen in a long, long time, and I absolutely LOVE it. I had been anxious to get my hands on Shutter for the longest time and my expectations were through the roof. Oh, how I WISH the story inside matched that beautiful scary cover! I know it’s a little early to declare this, but I have a feeling Shutter will be my biggest disappointment of 2015.

I thought the world building and the overall concept had so much potential. The best way I can describe Shutter is kind of a mash up of Ghostbusters, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Ghost Adventures and Dracula. The paranormal world exists alongside ours, and the general population is aware of the Helsing Corp’s comings and goings. The Helsing Corp is in charge of keeping the general populace safe from everything ghostly and demonic, and the main character, Micheline Helsing, is the heir to the empire. For the record, I didn’t like Micheline. I found her impossible to root for and even harder to empathise with. In general, I felt the characters were quite poor, and the only one I felt anything toward was Jude, and even at that I wasn’t overly-attached.

I suspect the writing style will either make or break the book for a lot of readers, and unfortunately, it didn’t work for me at all. While I really do like the idea behind Shutter, I feel the writing style interfered terribly with a fabulous concept. It reminded me of everything I disliked about Cassandra Clare’s writing style in City of Bones, only Shutter is far, far worse. I felt like I was being hit over the head repeatedly by a thesaurus, and this is definitely not what I want to happen right in the middle of a potentially terrifying horror scene. At times, both the dialogue and internal monologue was unpleasant to read. I felt there was far too much time spent on unnecessary descriptive inner thoughts, and not enough time focused on establishing the characters personalities. It’s overly descriptive, and uses unusual metaphors and similes that end up making no sense whatsoever. Now, don’t get me wrong, I usually LOVE unusual prose… when they make sense! I tend to really enjoy descriptive books so Shutter’s style, in theory, should work really well for me. In practice, though, it was the complete opposite. Between doors barking and blood flowing like butter… I couldn’t take it seriously. I also felt the atmosphere was severely lacking. For a horror story, there was no build up, and no anxiety or tension. Everything felt flat and overly plotted.

There is one teeny tiny little objective that has to be filled when I read a horror story: You have to scare me. That’s it. Awesome characters and amazing writing is appreciated, but when I pick up a scary book, objective numero uno is for me to be completely terrified. Was Shutter scary? No. Not even a tiny bit scary. Looking at the cover gave me way more frights that the story ever did, and this SUCKS so much. If I began reading Shutter expecting an Urban Fantasy story, I feel my expectations would have been more accurately met.

My opinion on Shutter seems to be in the extreme minority, so take it with a pinch of salt. Most people love it, and that’s awesome. Sadly, it just didn’t match my expectations, and the writing style wasn’t to my tastes.

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