Crossing The Barrier by Martine Lewis
Series: Gray Eyes #1
Read: July 14 – 21, 2016
Format: Ebook (Kindle)
Release Date: March 22, 2016
My Book Rating: 2.5 Stars
Genre: Contemporary Romance (with a minor touch of paranormal)
ABOUT THE BOOK
High school student Malakai Thomas, star wide receiver of the varsity team, collides with band member Lily Morgan on his way to football practice. As days go by, Malakai cannot get the petite clarinetist out of his head.
Lily Morgan can feel everyone’s emotions. She loses her ability to shield herself against them the day Malakai runs into her. Now she must try to maintain her sanity in the emotional jungle that is high school, as well as deal with her growing feelings for Malakai.
Can Malakai get over the social stigma and his own internal struggle to be with Lily? Is Lily’s secret too big to accept, even for him?
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
I went into this book expecting a YA paranormal romance, instead I got a YA sports romance with a touch of paranormal.
Right off the bat I have to state that I hate sports. So reading about sports doesn’t interest me, already that puts this book at a disadvantage for me. I’m a paranormal girl, I like to get lost in worlds where I need to extend my imagination and suspend belief. Contemporary novels, for the most part, don’t hold my interest. I get enough of reality in the real world. I want a little bit of magic.
The paranormal in this book comes in play with the main female protagonist, Lily. She’s an Empath, meaning she can sense / feel other peoples emotions. Normally she has mental shields to block the emotions out, but early on in the book she loses those shields. What I found more interesting about Lily is that she’s basically living a Cinderella life. Her father has passed away, leaving her alone with a mother who never wanted her. Anyone would be able to see just how unwanted Lily is by her mother Beatrice, but by being an Empath, Lily can feel every evil, nasty, vicious thought and feeling toward her. It’s a classic case of both physical and emotional child abuse with how badly Lily is treated. A girl growing up being treated so badly, you’d think she’d be forced to grow up pretty quickly, but I was actually surprised at now painfully naive she was at times. At one point I wanted to throw my Kindle at the wall and yell at her.
Meanwhile, Malakai, has his own demons at home. His mother left when he was a child and no one has ever told him why. His father is military, constantly leaving him home alone for weeks or months on end since he turned seventeen. Malakai starts out as a very good and chivalrous guy, but by the end of the book I really didn’t care much for him. He became almost controlling of Lily, and though from the thoughts that are presented to us through both his POV and Lily’s Empath ability, we know his actions are in no way malicious, but they just rubbed me the wrong way. He also became full of self-loathing. What happened to the confident boy in the beginning? I wasn’t feeling that.
I ultimately failed to love this book for a few reasons. The first being the aforementioned genre, it reads very contemporary and the paranormal is very light. That’s just not for me. The other things that drew me out of the story were the follow:
- As is common in YA books, there is a good amount of info dumping in the very beginning. Things I’d rather see happening than be told about.
- The author uses a lot of passive language which prevented me to actively engage with the events as they happened, i.e.: “She had wanted to go with him…. Lily had wondered….”
- I never could fully grasp what the central plot was. I think it was the romance between Lily and Malakai, but I’m not sure. In the beginning Wes and Zoe were sort of the villains, then they disappeared until the end when I’d all but forgotten them. Beatrice then became a bigger villain, shifting the focus from Wes and Zoe. Then we touch on Malakai’s parental issues. For me, all of the different conflicts never really “meshed” together well enough for me. I guess I just prefer the 3 act story arc formula.
- Malakai’s reactions. I mentioned above about the self-loathing, but Malakai has something happen near the end of the book and he reacts in a way that seemed completely out of character for him. Because we read half the book in his POV this shift in character could easily have been explained with his own internal monologue, but instead we’re given nothing. I actually had to stop and think, wondering if I’d somehow skipped ahead in the book and missed an important chunk of text that described his internal emotional turmoil. But I didn’t. I checked.
- The ending (before the epilogue) was cheesy. I think young teens girls will eat it up. For me personally, it didn’t work. It felt too soon and out of place.
That seems like quite a list of things that I didn’t like or didn’t work for me, but there were things I did enjoy. This book touches on a lot of relevant hot topics including bullying and racism, which is important to me. It’s obvious that the author really cares about her characters and though she gives them obstacles, it’s easy to root for them to get past them. I will also say this. Despite all of my grievances with this book, the epilogue piqued my interest (and seems to show that the series will PROBABLY be going in a more paranormal or sci-fi direction and I will quite likely read it and hope to see the author continue to grow as a writer.
Final thought: If you are a fan of contemporary romance (especially sports romance) you might enjoy this. I think younger teens will enjoy this book more than older teens and adults due to the writing style.
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