Back when I was in Japan, I had a few moments of free time where I decided to read Conversion’s excerpt. I was NOT disappointed, so I planned to read the rest when I came back. I did and I am now slightly disappointed. Why? Well I will tell you in form of review!
I am a HUUUUGEEEEE fan of retelling stories, I adore them so much that they are almost my favorite book genre. There is something interesting on reading a new point of view on a story we already know. It is fascinating to see how the story could have been had it been written by another person. This was one reasons that I wanted to read Conversion, the other was, well, I haven’t seen many Salem Witch Trials books, and since it was written modern day (ok 2012, but still close) I had to give it a shot. 402 pages later, I am unsure of how to feel.
We start off with a really gripping chapter, in my opinion, from the point of view of a girl after the Trials, she is talking to Reverend Green to make a confession. This first chapter really got me into the story, I loved Katherine Howe’s description, the way it all flowed out so well, the gripping chapter ending. I found myself almost always wanting to know what would happen to Ann, other times I mostly wanted to skim pages and pages.
After that first really cool chapter I fell out of interest. I will start with the characters because that was a huge problem for me.
The story is set in St. Joan’s Academy, the senior year has broke out in the Mysterious Illness. Each character is very stereotypical. The main characters are all written in such a shallow way, they seem self absorbed the whole time especially Colleen, the main character. The whole entire book we rotate between Ann and Colleen who are very different to me. Ann lies and begins to believe her lies, but she still has that shade of humanity about her that she feels the guilt and makes her confession. Colleen on the other hand goes on and on about how she is trying to get Valedictorian, how she is smart and pretty and all that jazz. Come on. Really?
Colleen is selfish, blaming her friends for what is happening. She gets so absorbed in her own world that she fails to see what is happening around her. She abuses the relationships with her friends because she is so obsessive. The whole entire book I had to roll my eyes, she was too demanding and lacked anything to set her apart from the other characters. Her voice was flat and the only time I felt she had any character was when she was talking about how lame some one was or the “ugly” shade of pink someones hair was.
Then there is Spence. I don’t understand why he even was a character. Spence literally had such a small part in the book I felt it was unnecessary. Why even add him? He did absolutely nothing, zip, zero, notta. Each character was like this, dull, one dimensional.
The plot was like the characters, and only a few times I found myself holding on in excitement. There could be a lot of potential in a story like this, but I think it didn’t actually live up to my hype (mostly my fault since I get over excited to often.). Most of the story was just Colleen and her need to get Valedictorian, she is so obsessive over it that it felt unreal. It is a big, huge honor to be Valedictorian, but would you really risk your health and sanity just to get that spot? Come on. The rest of the plot, as I keep mentioning, rotated chapters between Ann and Colleen. Ann’s story is one we typically already know but I liked her chapters more. At least something happened in those chapters. In Colleen’s next to nothing happened, she didn’t seem to really care about the whole Mystery Illness deal. One good thing is that it all led up to an ending that left you guessing, I liked that. Whatever really happened is left for you, the dear reader, to decided which is real and which isn’t.
Yeah, I am done ranting now. So this is my review in a nut shell: an ok story and ok characters, good ending and cool retelling idea.
You would like this book if you are a fan of Salem Witch Trials books, re-tellings, ect.