After reading a slew of duds, I felt like this book gave me life!
There was so much right about this book that I don't know where to begin praising it.
The writing was sharp and it crackled. Samara, the heroine killed with wry observations and snarky yet whip-smart one-liners. Caleb the hero is not completely human and his non-human part of himself creates some awkward situations. He could have been some smirky jerk, but instead was heartbreaking in his characterization and his need for Sam.
The characters were beautifully defined and added so much color and texture to the story. And I am not just talking about Sam and Caleb the main characters.
I am talking about Sam's mother who is the type of mother who makes her daughter and daughter's best friend watch all those 'To Catch a Predator' shows. And who cautions before Sam has to take a fairly long drive:
"Lock all your doors and watch your speed. If a cop flashes you make sure you stop at a public place, with plenty of people. There was a story on the news about this man impersonating police by using one of those party lights in his car. Anyway, you don't wanna know what happened to the poor woman he stopped."
I am talking about her best friend Mia and Mia's boyfriend Dougie whose bickering-breakups-and-makeups are the stuff of school legend. They are like the modern-day teenaged, yet funnier versions of George and Martha from Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf
I am talking about Nadine, Sam and Caleb's co-worker and friend, who is an enigmatic sexy Polish girl who writes so-bad-it's-good poetry and can give a 1,000 mile death-stare to any loser who tries to come on to her.
I am talking about the book-store that sounds an awful like Barnes & Noble where Caleb, Nadine and Sam work and have to meet each month to discuss a book they read in order to recommend to patrons. The meetings are hilarious and the book plots range from the awful to the awesome. I especially love the good-natured send-up of a Twilight-esque book series complete with a spot-on characterization of the fans both young and old.
I found Sam's response to Caleb's particular paranormal quality to be perfect. Not to beat a dead horse, but she is the anti Bella Swan. Sam's defining quality is her cynicism and her skepticism. They hold her in good stead even as she begins to fall in love with Caleb despite his super-humanness. And later how she handles some pretty overwhelming consequences to her relationship with Caleb.
There were also some wonderfully funny scenes where Sam is determined to "train" Caleb into accepting the part of himself he is intent on rejecting. She is logical and thorough, complete with index cards and a plan of action. The scenes where she enlists Dougie to help teach Caleb how to fight off aggressive woman (who better to help than a guy who is always fighting with a girl) are hysterical.
I knock off a half star because I was not thrilled with the ending. Yes, it was incredibly poignant and opens up a whole hot of possibilities for the upcoming books but I still wish things did not end up the way they did.
On the whole, though, this book was simply stellar!