Shallow Graves

368p. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Bks. Jan. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062366207.
Gr 7 Up—This title will initially grab readers with the mystery of Breezy's death and her new undead identity, but many will be left dissatisfied. Breezy Lin doesn't remember her death, but she does remember waking up in a shallow grave a year later, clawing her way to the surface, and killing with just one touch the man who woke her. Now she's wandering, testing the limits of what her body can handle (because she definitely can't die again) and taking out murderers, whom she can sense by the shadows surrounding them. But when she's directed to a church with a ministry for runaway youth, she realizes the secret of her past. Wallace experiments with narrative structure, unveiling Breezy's personality via flashbacks, memories, and her philosophical musings, but her treatment of the present is less compelling. Breezy is directionless until she finds herself running for her life, but even then she's not committed to anything in particular (learning more about her new nature, understanding the world she's discovered, avenging herself, hunting down murderers) for very long. Except for a stilted conversation in which Breezy asks a new companion which kinds of seemingly fictional creatures (ghosts, unicorns, vampires, and so on) are real, very little of the paranormal world is revealed. This peculiar lack of curiosity about the world Wallace has created spoils what might otherwise have been an intriguing paranormal mystery.
VERDICT Too shallow a world and too aimless a protagonist.

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