Saturday, 18 August 2012

Review: The Innocents by Lili Peloquin

Rating: 3/5 pigeon heads
Release date: 16 October 2012
Publisher: Penguin (Razorbill), 288 pgs
Goodreads | The Book Depository

Goodreads summary: 

Nothing ever came between sisters Alice and Charlie.
Friends didn't.
Boys couldn't.
Their family falling apart never would.
Until they got to Serenity Point. 
"The Innocents" is the first in a new series of young adult novels that weave a saga of nail-biting drama, breathless romance, and gothic mystery.

My brief summary: Alice and Charlie follow their mother and new step-father, Richard, to begin a new life in elite community Serenity Point, where the mystery behind Richard's daughter's recent death and its impact on their new friends begins to put a strain on their relationship.

I'm giving this 3 stars, which might be a little generous. At the very least it makes me acutely aware that I recently gave Sarah J. Maas' Throne of Glass a 3.5 when The Innocents is far from being in the same league. But it's a 3 stars for what it is (and I think we all know what kind of book this is): a pure guilty pleasure.

What would have made it stand out? This may be controversial, and probably says more about me than it does anything else, but if I'm going to read a fun, trashy novel, I hope for drama of epic proportions. I tend to expect tears, bloodshed, pregnancies, cat fights...the works. And yes, I tend to be hypocritical and complain about the very same thing. It's a bit unfair, seeing as The Innocents never explicitly sells itself as such, but I honestly hoped it would be a bit more dramatic; that the characters would be nastier, the rich kids meaner, the mystery just a bit more sinister. At times it feels like Peloquin is trying to hold back and build emotional complexity within the story, and while these things aren't mutually exclusive and it pains me to say it, she probably would have been more successful had she focused on sheer entertainment factor alone.

I know that's an awful thing to encourage, but really, kudos to Lili Peloquin for trying to balance depth with drama, because she succeeds in some areas. I love books about sisters, and I actually felt that Alice and Charlie were well-developed. I had a clear sense of their characters and felt like I really understood them, though the unravelling of their bond and the tensions that Serenity Point places on their relationship could have been highlighted more. Unfortunately, I can't say the same about their love interests or their community, which was all one big cliché. As for the mystery surrounding Richard, their new step-father, and Camilla, his recently deceased daughter, it was entertaining enough to keep me reading. There's a big twist at the end that's predictable, but overall I liked how Peloquin tied the ending back to the prologue.

I really don't consider a guilty pleasure a bad thing. I enjoy a trashy read every once in a while. This was maybe not trashy enough for me to justify the label, and if it had focused solely on the bond between the two sisters or the suspense and mystery behind Camilla's death, it might have avoided the label altogether. Instead, it kind of awkwardly treads a fine line between being a guilty pleasure and being, to be blunt, not very good. The writing is awkward at times, and the first few chapters were distractingly unedited, but I'm confident that with only two months till its release these errors have been fixed.

All in all, this was definitely a quick read - I think I read it in about two and a half hours - and I was entertained, just not as much as I hoped. If you're a fan of books in the vein of Pretty Little Liars and/or Gossip Girl, you might enjoy this one. The Innocents combines the pervading sense of mystery of the former with the scandal and extravagance of the latter, resulting in a quick read that, while entertaining, never does quite reach the same level of addictiveness.


  1. Lovely review! Probably not my type of book because my guilty pleasures tend to be paranormal-romance books, haha. However, I have read now and again, an odd book like this and I know the feeling of saying it's three stars, but not mind blowing.

    And I still don't understand how you do not have more followers! Your blog is fantastic!

    1. Yes, that's totally the feeling! Sigh. And thank you so much, Livvy! For reading, and for your comment. That means a lot. :)

  2. I'm the same as Livvy, this probably isn't my type of read. I'm sorry about the cliche content and the fact that the balance this book was working on wasn't a particularly good one. But I'm pleased to hear the characters were well-developed and there were good parts to sort of balance out the bad. Lovely review, L! :)

    1. Thanks, A! I'm definitely glad that the author tried hard to make the characters three-dimensional! It made it that much more enjoyable to read. Have fun on your trip, btw. :)

  3. :) Thanks for the informative review Lauren! :) My guilty pleasures tend to be ones that have to be completely addictive, so i'm sure this book is not for me!
    This sounds like a normal story, with good main characters (so glad they are!) I always love books with sisters too! (because I have one) Wonderful review!

    1. I know! I really need to find more sister books; I have a quite a few myself! Thanks for reading, Rachel!

  4. AWESOME REVIEW, Lauren! You raised some really great points for this book, and haha! It was very thoughtful of you to bump it up to 3 stars. I agree, I think there's nothing wrong with enjoying a guilty pleasure every now and then. I've read some guilties that people call it as such, but I thought they were actually really well written. (ever read Private by Kate Brian?) Too bad it didn't go full out with the drama or become addicting, and that the start was rough :/ Ah well, I thoroughly enjoyed your review, though XD so thanks for sharing it!

    1. I actually have read Private by Kate Brian! It was pretty addictive but definitely made me feel guilty holding it, haha. I haven't read the rest of the series, though! Thanks for reading, Vivian! I'm glad you like my review!

  5. "If I'm going to read a fun, trashy novel, I hope for drama of epic proportions. I tend to expect tears, bloodshed, pregnancies, cat fights...the works. And yes, I tend to be hypocritical and complain about the very same thing."

    LOL--that is such a good point. If you're going to write a melodramatic, juicy kind of book, I agree that you really have to go for it. Not sure if this is my kind of book (I tend to enjoy the TV show versions of books like that more than the books themselves) but I really enjoyed reading your review :)

  6. Wow! What an awesome review just on the honesty factor alone! I actually do have this book, but have not read it yet. From what you say, It sounds like a bath book to me and I'm glad it was an arc. Still, I will read it and see for myself, but this gives me an idea.
    Tammy @

  7. Great review! I love how honest you are about it :) I might still check this one out because I enjoy reading about the drama. But if it's not as drama filled as it should be, I might pass. I'll have to think about it :P

    I agree with Jen that watching the drama unfold in a tv show/movie is slightly more enjoyable.

    I think I'm like you, I need to be able to feel the emotions, however, I'm super emotional, so it doesn't take much!

  8. oh MAN I could use a 5 star Gothic drama right about now- but thanks for being honest! I might not pick this up yet.


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