The Edge of Nowhere by Elizabeth George

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EdgeofNowhereThe Edge of Nowhere by Elizabeth George (Viking Juvenile, 2012)

Blurb: Whidbey Island may be only a ferry ride from Seattle, but it’s a world apart. When Becca King arrives there, she doesn’t suspect the island will become her home for the next four years. Put at risk by her ability to hear “whispers”–the thoughts of others–Becca is on the run from her stepfather, whose criminal activities she has discovered. Stranded and alone, Becca is soon befriended by Derric, a Ugandon orphan adopted by a local family; Seth, a kindhearted musician and high school dropout; Debbie, a recovering alcoholic who takes her in; and Diana, with whom Becca shares a mysterious psychic connection.

This compelling coming-of-age story, the first of an ongoing sequence of books set on Whidbey Island, has elements of mystery, the paranormal, and romance. Elizabeth George, bestselling author of the Inspector Lynley crime novels, brings her elegant style, intricate plotting, incisive characterization, and top-notch storytelling to her first book for teens.

This book was so disappointing. I was excited to read it because I have enjoyed Elizabeth George’s adult mysteries. But this one doesn’t even begin to measure up.

The single biggest problem with this book is the lack of a story. The author seems to be so busy setting up the island as a character in its own right that everything else falls by the wayside–characters, plotting, pacing, conflict. The premise, while intriguing (young girl who can hear other people’s thoughts realizes her stepfather has murdered his business partner, and is forced to flee and establish a new identity) is completely undeveloped. She arrives in a new place where she knows nobody. The author uses her ability to read minds to drop all manner of intriguing tidbits, but not one of them is ever developed beyond that.

This could have been a book with a simple plot populated by characters with intriguing back stories and an island with its own mysterious secrets. Instead, it’s a plodding, slow-moving book that is obviously intended to set up a series. The problem is, in doing so, it fails as a stand-alone book. The only action comes on the penultimate page, obviously setting up the sequel, but having plowed my way through more than 400 pages of broken promises, I’m not really interested in seeing what happens next.

My rating: 1 star

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