Sunday, 10 June 2012

Review: Four in the Morning by Christi Goddard

Four in the Morning by Christi Goddard
Author: Christi Goddard
Publication Date: May, 2012
Publisher: Immortal Ink Publishing
Pages: 202 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Review copy provided by Rebecca Hamilton! Thank you!

Book Description from Goodreads:
Kathleen Hayson thinks her biggest problem is her mother. The only runner up — her mouth. With a wit sharper than her mother’s perfectly manicured nails, her clever remarks create more problems than they solve.
But it’s not her clever remarks landing her knee-deep in trouble. This time, Josh Colby is to blame. Kathleen’s former childhood friend has become the school’s most stuck up jerk. Before, she’d have told him to piss off and write his own stupid letter to the town slut/minister’s daughter. Now Kathleen’s escalating problems at home force her to reevaluate how flexible her principles are. She agrees to write the controversial letter Josh has requested.
Enter Rigel, a smartass magical creature who invades her room one night, promising he has come to help. When a boy Kathleen hates turns up dead and her mother goes missing, the letter becomes a key piece of police evidence — implicating Kathleen. As she fights her way out of a web of lies, the trust she has in those closest to her shatters. In the end, she’s pushed to a terrible choice: who lives, and who else dies.


So… my brain is still like this:

- days after reading Four in the Morning because…I can’t even begin to process that incredible jaw dropping ending.

I love that the cover reflects the theme of the story and the main character Kathleen so well.The cool fall day in the background plays perfectly into the creepy mysterious aspects and the cover model who is pale and dressed in black portrays the spitting image of Kathleen.

The story begins with an introduction to Kathleen and several different aspects of her life. She’s always butting heads with her slightly neurotic mother, the school’s most popular boy Josh engaged her writing skills for a love letter, her philosophical best friend Aka and a magical talking white skunk named Rigel shows up in her room to warn her of impending danger.

I loved that the character of Kathleen isn’t your archetype pretty blond, size 0, perky and agreeable heroine. She’s got a snarky sharp wit with a vocabulary that can dance circles around any dimwitted jock and an iron will to endure all the crap her mother or classmates throw at her regarding her appearance and slightly bitter attitude. What was a bit jarring was how well she accepted a talking woodland creature into her life - albeit with some initial assertions that it was a sugar induced hallucination.

The boys of the book were such an amazing mix. Riley - the arch-nemesis of Kathleen, really takes hateful bullying to whole new and terrifying level that left me shaking with a mix of anger and fear for Kathleen. Aka - the cryptic best friend who spoke in riddles and rhymes was interesting, but like Kathleen I had issues understanding him until she shook him and demanded it in simple English. However, Aka surprised me as a character that you could always depend on solidly to be there for Kathleen no matter what. Josh - who originally struck me as a really daft and useless character, ended up showing moments of intelligence and depth that engaged my interest, I’m actually kind of sad that we don’t get to see a more explicit explanation of him, especially after some huge revelations.

A lot of this story revolved around a really traumatic childhood for Kathleen. The character of her mom is all the extremes of a psychotic TV mom, such as being super pretty (by sheer will she could yell her hair back into place), shallow (I think she lives off of other’s praise and approval), with a dash of overly religious cult follower (which probably created Kathleen’s extreme dislike of religions later on) - who expects nothing but perfection from her children. So when you get a wilful disobedient daughter who isn’t afraid of you anymore… it’s a recipe for disaster.

Enter the very “Alice in Wonderland: White Rabbit” character: Rigel the proper British white skunk who shows up during a very difficult time in Kathleen’s life with a dire warning that someone will betray her, and that there’s a great tragedy that he’s there to prevent. But first - he needs to know every intimate detail about her life as he shadows her daily and gives her riddled answers that could rival Aka. I really loved Rigel’s character, he provided a surreal view of the events coupled with fur filled comic relief.

When I was first reading this, I wasn’t really sure what to make of these divergences to all these aspects of Kathleen’s life, it really felt like everything was random and coming at me out of nowhere. I was throughly confused as to what the whole point of the story… right up until the bodies started dropping… then I was HOOKED!

Goddard’s writing style is stunning!! She crafts distinct character voices that I could hear with clarity as I read and she definitely knows how to drive home tense and viscerally graphic details (I can’t look at eggplant the same anymore…). While the beginning was a bit slow to start, it lulled me into a false sense of security. Then it gets dark. I got to this part right before bed - it was a bad idea because as soon as Kathleen starts falling down this insane spiral of murder, missing people, and suddenly boys tripping over her I was screaming in my head “What is going on?!”. Before I knew it, I was taken on an intense plot twist roller coaster that was flinging me in a thousand unpredictable directions, with bombshell after bombshell being dropped until we get to the climactic tipping point and all the horrible secrets are revealed and Kathleen has to decide who pays the price for all the complaints of her life. Then, just when you think Goddard is done, she drops the biggest twist of all - that left Kathleen and I both in utter shell shock. It’s one of those endings where it’s so insane, I still wonder if all of it happened… just for THAT. 

Rating: 4/5 Hot Cups of Tea!
It may have been a slow start, but it was laying the foundation for a knock your socks off ending!!

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