Everyone believes Fern Johnson is crazy because she sees things that aren’t there. Or are they?
Tristan was Fern’s childhood imaginary hero, but as she grew up and his secret world continued to bleed into hers, catastrophe followed catastrophe. Now her city and niece are threatened by unseen powers, and Fern might have to consider that this young man and his world might be more than hallucinations.
The concept of this novella is so unique and refreshing. The beginning captured my attention right away; I longed to know why Fern was being interviewed by the FBI and what part Tristan played in these events.
However, I had heard great things about the novella and was disappointed that it didn’t live up to my expectations. Most of the time I was confused, mostly about the plot: why Tristan was hurt, how much people could actually see of him, why Fern’s brain worked the way it did, how did the mysterious evil doctors find her and why they wanted her, why the good doctors seemed so knowledgeable about Tristan’s world, how they knew where the Rift was, etc.
The novella could have benefited from more information and even flashbacks (I love flashbacks!) about Fern’s relationship with Tristan. It would have been nice to see how their relationship morphed as Fern grew up. I didn’t understand how she had known him for eleven years and was just now learning about what had happened to his world. Wouldn’t she have been curious about this earlier?
I also didn’t understand how Fern could go from adamantly ignoring Tristan/believing he’s a figment of her imagination to helping him save her world a few pages later. Such a dynamic change in attitude and perspective would require more dramatic events than seeing a few desolate places of Tristan’s world. And I would have thought she’d seen them before now.
Since Tristan is from another world, I expected him to act and look differently than a typical American young adult, perhaps by unique verbal expressions or more differences in his physique/outfits rather than merely armor.
Fern is the caretaker of her niece, which is a unique element, since most books just mention siblings, if they mention relatives at all. Swanson did a great job showing without telling the reader how much Fern loves her niece and will risk anything for her.
I also enjoyed the symbols of birds (as hope) in this book and would have loved to see that expounded upon. The last few chapters flew by in a blur of exhilarating action, debilitating sorrow, and delightful joy! What a wild ride those last pages were. They almost made up for all the confusion I experienced. Almost, but not quite.
I’d say this novella was a too-tart berry smoothie. But I’m not ready to give up on Kara Swanson yet! I look forward to reading her retelling of Peter Pan—Dust—this summer, when it comes out. I have hopes I’ll enjoy it more than The Girl Who Could See.
What book(s) have you read that was hyped up but fell flat for you? What about it did you not enjoy?