Review: Elegy by Tara Hudson


Rating: 4/5 stars
Pub Date: June 4, 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: young adult, paranormal romance (subgenre: ghosts & demons)
Format/Source: ARC, giveaway prize
Source: Book 3 of the Hereafter trilogy


Summary:
A stalker ghost, misguided Seers, and spellbinding wraiths—Amelia Ashley has faced them all. Now her greatest hope is to spend the rest of her afterlife with her living boyfriend, Joshua. But the demonic forces return to give her an ultimatum: turn herself over to the darkness or watch them murder one living person per week until she does.

Amelia fears she might really be doomed, until the forces of light give her another option. She can join them in their quest to gather souls, with a catch: Once she joins them, she can never see Joshua again.

Faced with impossible choices, Amelia decides to take her afterlife into her own hands—and fight back.

Review:
Disclaimer: I received this ARC directly from Tara as a prize for winning her side-giveaway during the 2012 Winter Young Adult Scavenger Hunt. It was not given in exchange for a review, but I want to do one anyway. By the way, if you don't know what the YA Scavenger Hunt is YOU ARE MISSING OUT BY LIVING UNDER THAT ROCK.

We interrupt programming to bring you breaking news (to some of you) about the YA Scavenger Hunt. The YASH is a 3-4 day long event when 50-ish ya authors get together to give back to the readers. They post exclusive content (extra stories, behind-the-scenes, super top-secret excerpts, etc), which is available during the whole hunt. At the same time, each author donates a book to the prize pack. The authors are split into two or three teams, and you hunt through the blog posts to find a code, which, if you get correct, will enable you to enter to win said prize packs. In addition to all that good stuff, most of the authors post personal giveaways on their blogs, giving everybody bonus attempts to win awesome books and swag. It's so much fun, and it's a fantastic way to meet fellow readers and find new books to read. Go here to check out the YASH website. Sign up for the emails so you don't miss the next one!

and now back to your regularly scheduled review! Which is actually going under the cut because I'm going to talk about some spoilers for books 1 and 2, Hereafter and Arise. Follow at your own risk.
So Elegy picks up just a short time after Arise. Amelia and the Mayhews are back in Oklahoma after the whole crazy New Orleans adventure, but bummer, Amelia and Josh are having some relationship problems as they can't touch due to the somewhat unforseen circumstances of Amelia being Risen, aka she is now visible and can touch stuff...but not people. Including Joshua. Ugh. One of the worst things about this book is that they can't. touch. ever. Josh and Amelia are an adorable couple, like super cute, and I just want to pinch them so I got really frustrated on their behalf (okay, right, on my own behalf) because there was no making out. Tara Hudson, this is cruel and unusual punishment, dangit! Okay, rant over.

For me, one of the best aspects of the trilogy is watching the characters evolve over the course of all three books. It's kind of like the stages of grief, but not. For instance, in Hereafter, Josh is just this sweet guy who loves his ghostly girlfriend when his world violently collides with hers. In Arise, he tries to better their situation by taking matters into his own hands, even though he's being really kind of naive about it. In Elegy, Josh throws his entire being into trying to save Amelia, even at his own expense. The depth of Josh's emotions is so incredibly well-written. I have nothing but respect for Tara for being able to convey feelings so well. Josh is just an example. Everybody changes over the series. Jillian's metamorphasis is particularly bold., I think. Several characters who previously shook things up were made small while small characters were pushed into the spotlight. Good guys went rogue and bad guys were more gray than black-and-white. That, my friends, is good characterization. Especially when Tara didn't lose focus of the story in all of it. This is still the story of the ghost girl and her human boyfriend trying to make their relationship work. Sure they're being haunted by Hell and all its demonic minions, but at the root, this is a love story.

I'd like to share my favorite quote here because it just...it gave me chills. Page 193: "He and i had been thrown together by chance, not fate. We weren't star-crossed lovers, moving on some doomed, predetermined path. We were just two souls who saw each other, and in seeing, loved." *dies* I KNOW, RIGHT. This whole moment is one giant epiphany for Amelia, but those three small sentences are just so beautiful, especially in their simplicity. We may not live in ghost stories in our lives (or maybe some of you do, I don't know), but I think, I hope that this might be something we all get to experience.

I don't want to get super-spoilery because I think if you're going to read Elegy (and you should), you should be able to experience the whole thing yourself, but on the subject of the end: Much like Burning by Elana K. Arnold, I saw this one coming. I kept racking my brain, trying to figure out how to make it work out, and this was the concept I kept coming back to. And that's just me, the reader. I'm sure Tara had to wrestle with it so much more than I did. A lesser writer would have taken the easy way out, but this...this was real. It was true to the characters, to their story. I was saddened by many things throughout the course of the story, but then, as A.S. King said (in a blurb for Andrew Smith), "Winger broke my heart, like any great book should." Isn't that the truth? I love being so invested in a book that it has the power to break my heart. Elegy was that powerful to me. So yes, it did make me sad. I cried, I'll admit. But it also gave me hope, and really, that's the best thing a great book can do: it can break us, but it can also build us up.

Congrats on a lovely trilogy well-done, Tara, and I can't wait to see what you've got for us next! Ahem, if what you've got for us next could include Joshua Mayhew naked shirtless, that would be especially fantastic.

Recommended for: anyone looking for a realistic paranormal romance (realistic as far as the romance, at least)
Not recommended for: a straight-up happily-ever-after kind of read

Book Links:
 photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpg  photo 111AD205-AA04-4F9E-A0F4-C1264C4E9F30-1855-000001A1E8CEB6D7_zps9b730b94.jpg  photo KoboIcon_zps515cdc1a.jpg  photo B1426D4C-9EEC-4C0B-A1FB-90524B03C0CA-1855-000001A1E82B3B3E_zps17d98f4d.jpg

About the Author:
Born and raised in Oklahoma, Tara Hudson graduated with a degree in law, mostly because she believed all the horror stories about English majors and their careers in the food-service industry. Luckily, she soon remembered how much she loved telling ghost stories, particularly to her girlfriends who liked visiting abandoned cemeteries as much as she did. Tara currently lives in Oklahoma with her husband, son, and a menagerie of ill-behaved pets.
Author Links:
   

5 comments:

  1. Wow! What an interesting review! I really loved this one! The no cute parts was kinda a downer but I thought there was just enough to make it work. I didn't expect the ending at all. I guess I always think things are tied perfectly when sometimes their not. Since your the reason I got to read this one I say thanks again Mary <3

    Jasmine

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    1. I thought it was a great ending. And you're very, very welcome. :)

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  2. I haven't started this series yet but I'm happy to know that the ending is satisfying and surprising.

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    1. It really is. When I met Tara a couple weeks ago, we talked about the fact that there really didn't seem to be an alternate ending available. It fit perfectly.

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  3. I won an ARC of Elegy in May or June, for Amelia's Birthday Giveaway and I LOVED it. I thought it was an amazing conclusion to an awesome trilogy. I loved how the ending wasn't stereotypical YA (I don't want to be specific because of spoilers, but hopefully you get what part I'm talking about. Tara Hudson is awesome and I hope she writes another series soon!

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