Monday, July 23, 2012

Change of Season by A.C. Dillon

Title: Change of Season
Author: A.C. Dillon
Length: 11672 Kindle units
Rating: 3.5 stars

The Plot

Autumn has become silent and withdrawn in the last year, and none of her family and friends understand why. As a last resort, her parents send her off to Casteel Prep, a boarding school with a stellar arts curriculum and a behavioral support program for troubled teens. Autumn begins to excel in her creative writing program and make new friends, but she is still terrified of something away from the school. But there may be something even more dangerous within the school itself, because it seems that a number of girls have disappeared from the school in the last 15 years. Girls who look an awful lot like Autumn…

The Good

Change of Season is a touching story about a girl who has a terrifying past and needs to find a way to get on with the future. Autumn is dealing with things that no teenage girl should have to live with, but she doesn’t trust anyone around her – even herself. The paranormal elements of the story combine with Autumn’s own hallucinations to the point the she cannot tell what is real and what is a product of her anxiety-riddled mind. The powerlessness both of Autumn and the people who love her and want to help her is poignant, as is their development as they learn to get past their difficulties.

Plus, there is a kitty. But beware, dog fans. You are not going to like the way this one goes.

 The Bad

There are a few scenes in this novel where Autumn attends a creative writing class. The class is portrayed very realistically, and I believe that the author has much personal experience with such classes and the exercises and jargon therein. Unfortunately, the author must have skipped the lesson where they taught that NO ONE WANTS TO READ ABOUT A CREATIVE WRITING LECTURE IN A NOVEL. Unless it’s one of those textbook novels, like my sister had for her anthropology class in college. I mean, we are all a fan of the kunstlerroman, but when you have a student read aloud her assignment and then have everyone in the class talk about how awesome it is, it really just comes off as self-congratulatory on the part of the author.

My biggest complaint about Change of Season is that there are a number of unnecessary passages, which makes the book unnecessarily long. In addition to not caring about the creative writing curriculum, I don’t need to know about how the class decided to stage Spring Awakening or which music would best accompany a film about Occupy Toronto, especially when these things are filled with enough obscure references to put Psych to shame. The actual plot of the novel didn’t get started until nearly halfway through it, and then it was sparse in its continuation.

The Romance

I can’t say too much here without giving away some spoilers. But basically we have two timelines going on here. We have Autumn in 2011 who has PTSD (which is very clear to the reader, who knows that something traumatic has happened to her, but unclear to the other characters in the novel because they have no idea what prompted the change in behavior) and doesn’t want to meet any new friends, especially boyfriends. Then we have Autumn back in 2010, who is a normal, happy, friendly girl, who has caught the attention of a seemingly cute and personable boy named Chris. But the whole time we know that something is going to turn 2010 Autumn into 2011 Autumn, and we’re not morons, so we assume that it has to do with Chris. But just how horrible is Autumn’s past? And will she find the strength to love again? Only ye who read the book shall know.

Will I read more?

I would have really enjoyed Change of Season if it had been about 1/3 – 1/2 as long as it was. There was just so much extraneous material, and the story moved so slowly that I had a hard time staying invested in the characters and not getting bored. I don’t think there are going to be more books in the series, because I really don’t think poor Autumn can take anymore, but I would hesitate to pick up anything from this author again that was not substantially shorter.

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