Hello, lovelies! You are not hallucinating, I did write a review in the middle of the weekend! YASS! *taps on her own shoulder* I would like to start this post by apologizing to James Morris with all my heart, as I took so long to read his book. I’m sorry and I hope the wait was worthy because here we go!
Shelley is a girl that lost her mother at the age of 13 and still suffers with the loss three years later. She lives in a small city on the USA and plans on moving to UCLA on college. Her life could be described as very boring, if it weren’t for some incidents of anger, blackouts and a current nightmare. All in a good day of a teenager’s life, or so she thought.
One day, a boy approaches Shelley with an insane story about she being adopted and Shelley panics because it made sense. After running away from him and confronting her father about it, Shelley falls apart: who was she?
The more Shelley discovers, deeper the hole seems. Was she up to going until the end to find herself and sacrifice everything she thought she knew or would she stop and forget all about her birth parents?
Just remembering that these were my impressions and opinion while reading the book 🙂
The book started slow for me, I hated Shelley and it was a third person narrated book from her point of view only and solemnly, so I couldn’t take a break from her. Around chapter 5, I couldn’t let go of it anymore and I speed-read it until the end, that disappointed me beyond measures. I saw Shelley grow so much as person for it all to stop there? Once, Frank Herbert said that “There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story” and I find this to be very true, allowing happy endings to books, movies and such. But Morris COULDN’T HAVE STOPED WHERE HE DID, OMG! I felt betrayed as a reader with Shelley’s final decisions and I cried hard for about half an hour after I was finished. I even forgot to post on Goodreads that the review was coming soon (I always do that when I rate the book), haha! The book hangover has so strong that I dreamed with its end tonight and then I decided I needed to do this review fast because I couldn’t handle it, haha! Oh, by the way, I gave it four stars 🙂 I considered giving three, but the book did impress me, it was good while it lasted.
The narrative is amazing. Morris writes perfectly and his rhythm and pace were perfect. Description, scenarios, tempo, IT WAS ALL PERFECTION. I don’t have what to say about that. But you must be wondering why the book started slow for me if all of those aspects were so good. Excellent question, my dear reader! The thing is I had a problem with Shelley, the protagonist, since page 1. So, in the beginning, on the “normal” part of her life, I was bored to my bones and now it makes sense: Morris wants us to feel how insipid was her existence, how immature she was and that was very, very tiring. After the trigger of her brother, you dive hard on Morris’ world and you feel like you are a part of the scene even with Shelley being the center of the narrator all the time. What she doesn’t know, the narrator also doesn’t, what is not revealed to her, isn’t to us either. On a mystery book like this, I think this narrative form worked until the end, when it all got doomed, haha! This is a standalone book and Shelley finishes it with tons of unanswered questions. We don’t reach that part of her life were things get stabilized when the book ends, so you feel like a piece of your heart was ripped apart from you. I didn’t thought it a happy ending and one star was lost for it – my reviews are fair, my ratings are TOTALLY personal, sorry.
I would like to open a parentheses here to comment something. I think it is amazing when a man has the capacity of writing a first person book narrated or following a woman as protagonist. It is very hard and Morris was very good at doing it – Shelley’s small worries about herself, her thoughts, her acts… Honestly, congratulations, James! It was amazing!
The plot was very good and creative. Morris mixes teenage life with science fiction, adventure, a bit of suspense and lots of mystery and it worked out pretty well. It is amazing how everything is connected during the whole book, how so many small things from the beginning made sense in the end. The problem were the problems that surfaced in the middle to the end of the book, that Shelley never had a chance to solve. The best part of it is there we get the chance to feel Shelley’s personal grown during the unwind of the plot.
In character matters, Morris was very realistic, sometimes to the point of pain for the reader. He shows clearly how it is ourselves who decide if we will have a quiet or exciting existence, that what really matters are our choices and not what lies within (you see what I did there, don’t you? Haha!). My favorites were Shelley’s father and Winston. And, judge me, Kevin. Shelley’s father has a heart bigger than himself (which is a great deal, as she describes him as a bear) and showed me something about myself as well. There’s this scene where Shelley asks him why he likes city models and trains and miniatures in general and he says that those stuff, he can control; he didn’t have control over Shelley’s mother death and he couldn’t control Shelley herself on any way, as any other aspect of daily life, so that was his private paradise. And it was there when I noticed that I do the same thing playing The Sims 2 (yes, 2, as I hated 3, the Medieval one, the mobile one and 4 is more or less). Every time that my life is going through a path were I can’t be sure what’s going on or what’s next, I start playing it on my free time as much as I can. I have never realized it and it is so true. The illusion of control is comforting and you know that, at least on one little world, your will is the law. Winston also showed me something: sometimes we make excuses for our tastes for our own sanity and not for the sake of others. He liked to blow up things, ships on the water. For Shelley, he said it was for a movie and he pretended to want to record the explosions with his camera. During his own personal growth in the book, we can see that there is no movie, just the same desire for control without attracting attention of a possible need for therapy. By the way, I don’t understand how people are so afraid to go to therapy, it’s great and delicious for the soul .-.
Anyway, sorry for the major reflections, haha! This book made me think a lot, oops! Let’s get back to characters: I hated Shelley. I thought she was a bratty spoiled girl, I didn’t have any identification with her and her reaction to being adopted was the worse for me: selfish and self-centered, just hurting her father to no ends. I have very strong positions about adopted children because I have a case very close on the family and I can compare, you know? I understand Shelley wanting to know where she came from and who were the people that gave up on her, but nothing justifies what she did with her father. Nothing.
Overall, it was a good experience, I was meaning to read more science fiction and this was awesome. Thanks again to James Morris for trusting me with his work! I would highly recommend this book to people who likes a good mystery, psychological research, personal growth, adventure and a breathless end. Oh, but stay away if you, like me, can’t handle an end without a happily ever after, okay? I don’t regret reading this, but it got me hard, haha! I hope there is a sequel for What Lies Within someday ❤
That’s it! Thanks for reading ❤ Let’s see if I manage more reviews this next week, haha!