For fans of Holly Black and Nova Ren Suma, a gripping, hauntingly atmospheric novel about murder, revenge, and a world where monsters—human and otherwise—lurk at the fringes. When seventeen-year-old Breezy Lin wakes up in a shallow grave one year after her death, she doesn’t remember who killed her or why. All she knows is that she’s somehow conscious—and not only that, she’s able to sense who around her is hiding a murderous past. In life, Breezy was always drawn to the elegance of the universe and the mystery of the stars. Now she must set out to find answers and discover what is to become of her in the gritty, dangerous world to which she now belongs—where killers hide in plain sight, and a sinister cult is hunting for strange creatures like her. What she finds is at once empowering, redemptive, and dangerous. Tense, complex, and wholly engaging, Shallow Graves is a stunning first novel from Kali Wallace.
I love seeing diversity in main characters and Breezy ticks a lot of boxes; she is a Chinese, bisexual teenage girl who loves Science and was obsessed with being an astronaut. I really felt her pain as she lamented the fact that her one ambition in life was now off limits despite the fact that she was now perfect for the job - no need to eat or breathe and apparently indestructible. It was also really interesting to read as she tried to apply her analytical mind to the new task at hand - namely figuring out this new world and finding out why she isn't dead.
Shallow Graves does not follow down the traditional path of distracting from the plot with an ill-fitting love interest. There is a boy, there is potential with the boy, but neither of them seems interested in pursuing that at the moment. There is also an underlying thread that makes social commentary on the issues of slut shaming and victim blaming. I loved that Breezy was self and socially aware enough to recognize how differently her life (and death) would have been if she had been a teen boy murdered rather than a girl and these sections come off as thought-provoking, rather than preachy.
Unfortunately, not everything in this story worked quite as well as it could have. The author chose a non-linear manner of storytelling which worked in parts, but other times was strange and confusing. There are two main mysteries and neither of them ends particularly strongly. I was particularly disappointed in the reveal of who killed Breezy. I was hoping for one of those 'oh my god, no way?!' moments, but it just fell a little flat and felt frustrating. The other storyline featured a big baddie who, rather than being defeated, was merely contained. This made the book feel like the first in a series, though that doesn't appear to be the case, and I didn't like that ambiguousness.
Bottom Line: A fun book with an interesting new character. Wish it was a series though....
What I Loved:
Breezy is an unapologetic main character who knows who she is (if not what) and makes no excuses for her actions. She is tough and rough around the edges, never striving to be perfect or even terribly concerned with being good. Her opening narrative provides an incredible hook immediately, and the premise is intriguing and mysterious. Diversity is also a wonderful and natural part of the story, featuring a bisexual woman of color protagonist to a plethora of diverse secondary characters.
What Left Me Wanting More:
Though the premise is fascinating, the story line often derails into seemingly directionless areas. The mystery behind Breezy’s murder only surfaces occasionally between a sort of cult community take down. However, readers who enjoy genre-bending stories may find that part the most invigorating. Likewise, the story hints at many deep and complex themes from humanity to murder, yet they are only seldom explored given their weight in plot progression.
While the secondary characters are interesting, they have a tendency to feel flat and often little time and dialogue are given to get to know them. Even so, this does make Breezy’s character a strong focus and opens her primary narrative to more detail and development.
Though Shallow Graves isn’t the best fit for me, the layers of diversity, intriguing premise, and unapologetic heroine make this book a lovely selection for those who desire magic, murder, and the unusual in their stories.
Breezy is a really interesting character, and her voice and characteristics is definitely not one would find very frequently in books. She puts science above magic, at least she does in the beginning. She makes a bunch of suicide tests and wonders why she can't die. She takes data of how she dies and knows that no matter how far she is broken, her body will heal. Then she is captured, and she must figure out whether or not she is a monster her captors claim she is or the human she believes herself to be. It's the age-old question.
The plot is packed with action. In the beginning, the book starts off with Breezy going serial killer hunting. And she does indeed find a killer (though not a serial killer) who is on the hunt for his second victim. Bam! He dies. It gives an aura of mystery over Breezy's powers, and I'm curious to exactly what she does. (Soul taking? Soul theft? Soul... Well, something one of those Dementors do to their victims? But in reverse? Like taking the darkness out of the souls instead? Don't know. And the topic itself isn't very addressed.)
The villain... Well, it's actually villains. Depending on which part of the story the reader is in, the villain differs. It's hard to tell who exactly is the real one, because there are so many of them. The Mother. The priest. The priest's lackey. The murderers themselves (minor villains). But they all help define Breezy a bit more and help her figure out who she is, and that is awesome.
The ending is a very satisfying part. Though Breezy doesn't go to a bloody rampage of death and revenge, she does find a purpose. Her personal mission of discovering things, in fact. She may not join NASA (who knows how they will react to a zombie-like girl?), but she'll be happy. And once again, that is awesome.
Overall, SHALLOW GRAVES is most certainly not what I expected. But it's a really good read about a girl who is, at first, asking the wrong questions until she, like a true scientist, stumbles onto the right one. Great plot, good moments of action, and a really terrifying monster(s).
Rating: Four out of Five
It was an instinct I didn't know I had.
I never made a choice.
The second time was on purpose."
Shallow Graves has it all..murder, suspense, horror, and paranormal aspects with a main character that is so intriguing and she pulls you right into the story.
From the very first page Shallow Graves grabbed me and had me turning pages deep into the night just to see what happened next. This was such an intriguing, different, creepy and yet utterly FASCINATING story!!
Breezy is murdered and buried in a shallow grave and when she awakens she realizes she is not really alive and yet not really alive...she is different.
"I couldn't die. No matter what I did, the wounds healed. They hurt, every single one, pain like I had never felt before. They bled, they burned, they left scars. But they healed....."
" .......All I had was data, and all the data told me was that sometime between the moment I died and the moment I woke up, I had either become something unnatural, something not alive but not either....."
Breezy then begins on a path to figure out what happened to her any why? There are so many questions in this book that make you think about life and death and the afterlife
I absolutely loved Breezy's character. She is so strong and yet angry and calculating. She is more determined than ever to use her new found "abilities" to fight evil while she is searching for answers about what happened to her and why she is like this.
Shallow Graves is engrossing, addictive, heart-breaking, unique, fascinating, and utterly creepy. AND I LOVED EVERY PAGE of this chilling YA thriller that brings out the gut-wrenching truth surrounding what really happened to Breezy and how it completely changes her life. There was so much mystery in this book and I could not wait to find out the answers.
Kali Wallace is an author to watch for. Her writing skills are fascinating and so full of emotion. Her characters feel so real and she had me completely engrossed in this phenomenal debut book from the first page to the last and when it was over....I still wanted more...Well done Kali Wallace....Well done.
One year after her death, Breezy wakes up and digs out of her own grave. She doesn't remember how she died and she has no idea why she alive again. What she does know is killers. She's now able to tell who has murders someone and she has the ability to quickly kill them. Traveling away from her home, Breezy soon finds out that there others out there who aren't quite human and a cult intent and ridding the world of them.
I didn't know what to expect from this book, besides some creepiness. I make it a rule not to read the synopsis of a book right before reading the book, since sometimes spoilers are included. I thought that the beginning was very interesting. I was expecting the book to be about Breezy killing various murderers. As weird as it sounds, I though that was pretty darn interesting. I was thrown when the cult was thrown in and then the book felt less creepy dead girl thriller, but weird paranormal. For some reason, the introduction of other paranormals didn't do it for me. I later grew to like it and found a lot of it interesting, but it took a bit for me to get used to the new topic.
As for writing, Kali Wallace is a wonderful writer. I liked how the story moved and how there were flashbacks intertwined within the story. This wasn't really a mystery, but there was a mystery underneath about what happened to Breezy and I liked how that flowed. And as weird and dark as the story was, I did like it.
Breezy as a character was hard to connect to. Partly because she's dead and doesn't remember what happened to her. She can also easily kill people. You know, not really something you can easily relate to. She also felt oddly older, which shouldn't be the case. She's dead, not an immortal being that has lived centuries. Another thing I would like to mention is that Breezy is bisexual. What I liked about that in this book was that it was never made a big deal of, it just was.
Overall, I did like this book. It wasn't what I expected, but it was a very interesting and dark read. This book won't become a favorite of mine, but Kali Wallace can definitely write and if she writes any more YA, I will pick it up. If you're a fan of dark, paranormal reads that are definitely strange.