Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: 8th November 2012
Edition: UK paperback, review copy
Since the night of the crash, Wren Wells has been running away. Though she lived through the accident that killed her boyfriend, Patrick, the girl she used to be didn’t survive. Instead of heading off to college with her friends as planned, Wren retreats to her father’s isolated studio in the far-north of Maine. Somewhere she can be alone.
Then she meets Cal Owen. Dealing with his own troubles, Cal’s hiding out too. And when the chemistry between them threatens to pull Wren from her hard-won isolation, Wren has to choose: risk opening her broken heart to the world again, or join the ghosts who haunt her.
I’d heard virtually nothing about Amy McNamara’s debut when I started it so I went in blind and I really enjoyed it.
At eighteen, Wren is a little older than most YA protagonists, as is the love interest Cal who is around twenty/twenty one. This age range would now be regarded as new adult, but Lovely, Dark and Deep is firmly planted in YA. Neither Wren nor Cal felt too old for the story and it didn’t feel too chaste for their ages. I think Amy McNamara struck a really good balance and I loved it.
There was something else that struck me as unusual about this novel that I ended up really enjoying: something dramatic related to the love interest that wasn’t revealed half-way through the novel at an emotionally wrought moment, but made evident from the beginning. It’s just a part of Cal as a character and I think that’s so much more realistic. I realise that was an incredibly vague description, but I don’t want to ruin the non-reveal!
Even though Cal is an absolute sweetheart and I really liked him, Wren got on my nerves every so often. She’s extremely selfish in her grief. She was so involved in her own thoughts and feelings that she didn’t notice, let alone care, about anyone or anything going on around her. I know that people deal with bereavement in their own way, it just griped at me a little. But, I’ve never been through anything like she has so I can’t really judge her. Although I personally would never want to put myself in a position where I was hurting the people I love as a reacting to hurting myself. Even though Wren was a little hit and miss, I still liked her and she never annoyed me enough that I wanted to stop reading at any point.
Aside from the unusual elements and intriguing characters in Lovely, Dark and Deep, there was one component of the novel that really sucked me in: the setting. It’s simply stunning. The area of wintery Maine that Wren escaped too sounds rather like paradise. The cliffs and coast are snuggled up to the dark and seemingly endless woods. There’s such a sense of nature and complete isolation rubbing up against small town America that’s so charming and helps give Lovely, Dark and Deep a melancholic beauty that I found irresistible. Gorgeous.
Even though I had a few issues with this book, I ended up being rather captured by it and it’s beautiful cover. I’m really interested in what Amy McNamara will write next.
For my 2012 Debut Author Challenge and 2012 Contemporary YA Challenge (I promise I read it last year!)