Book: Whisper (Whisper #1) by Phoebe Kitanidis
Publisher: Balzer + Bray, 2010
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Source + Date Read:
Recommend: If you enjoy a quick read with some simple contemporary fantasy drama where some chicks can Hear what you think. Spooky.
Book Pro’s: Simple read, entertaining.
Book Con’s: The pace was immensely slow, the first 200 pages were fillers and descriptions.
A simple cover with a young woman looking serenely forwards. The word Whisper is engraved in what could be, a whisper. It’s simple, spooky, and good. I’d give the cover a 3 really, because it isn’t terribly outrageous nor does it push the edge, it safely nestles itself in the middle.
Honestly, it’s been a week since I’ve finished the book, which means that I should remember what went on right? But I can’t. I remember that the story is set on the West Coast and that the drama starts in the middle somewhere and escalates to Seattle. Maybe it’s because I don’t live in the US and my American geography is sketchy, so I’ll take a stab and say Oregon. Yes. Oregon. I think?
We meet our main character Joy as she is contemplating her upcoming birthday and how her ‘freak’ sister, Jessica, manages to always ruin it. You see, Jessica and Joy are from a long line of Hearers, or women that can Hear (they write it like that in the book, ok?) what you think. They call these audible mental thoughts Whispers. Joy is a typical goody-two-shoes and is content to make people happy, giving them whatever they want as her ‘benevolent’ mother does as well. Her sister Jessica, takes her Hearing badly, as did their aunt Joan and all hell breaks loose from there. I give Kitanidis some props for the characters, they do show growth and have vastly different personalities, but don’t clash tons. So for some pretty average characters.
Now we get to the meat of Whisper. One of the most intriguing things of the book are the many layers and complexities of the Whispers and different character’s ability to Hear. Initially, we are treated to simple Whispers, the same ones that Phoebe hears that convey a sense of desire or want. Now, good little Joy feels obligated to give into these Whispers, feeling that she is helping the world with her gift. Her mother is pretty much the same and it becomes obvious that Joy is a carbon copy of the mother. Their father is busy and the Whispers we hear from her are banal and work related- so he can’t care much then, right?
Very wrong, after 100 pages (I’ll get to these later) readers realize that Whispers of desire, pleasure or wants are simply surface Whispers. It seems that some people can only hear surface Whispers, and some only let themselves hear these Whispers. However, some unlucky powerful women have the ability to delve below the surface and hear the real thoughts of those around them.
Joy’s sister, Jessica, experiences this at a very young age and takes a negative attitude towards her Hearing, isolating herself to the point of mania, alcohol and drug addiction. Perfect Joy doesn’t know this though, she just thinks that the world is exactly as she sees it.
I believe that this is the main premise of the book, that there are surface things and deeper things, and we have to train ourselves, or even allow ourselves really to see these. What then, becomes of those content with surface things? And what pain happens to those that can’t do anything but see below it?
After 200 pages Joy succumbs to massive headaches (the result of being around people with mental blocks as her mind attempts to scratch at deeper Whispers) and befriends a local ‘freak’ Jaime, whose family feels others emotions in Waves, and like Jessica, he is unable to control it (foreshadowing into the second book?). There really much else to say about the book without including massive spoilers.
The novel is a fairly successful one, despite its extremely slow pace. After I was reading and reading and reading I realised that the plot had not progressed in 200 pages, and then BAM, in 50 pages we’re crossing state lines and running around with guns and screaming and then, a very happy, too-tidy ending. I think Kitanidis could have fleshed out the book a bit more. What’s going on with Jaime? How does he just drop out of the sky like an angel? Why does EVERYTHING happen in the last 50 pages? Maybe she could have extended the book an extra 50 pages to justify the rushed ending, or maybe cut down the first 200 pages to give us a greater sense of depth and pace. I don’t know. It was an entertaining read, but there were times when I just crossed my eyes in frustration. It’s ending and ridiculous pace place the book at of 5. It hit the middle in every mark, from it’s cover, it’s contrived setting and typical characters. That being said, I enjoyed it.
Read it and let me know, how did you enjoy Whisper?