How was your weekend? I didn’t do much, just celebrated Father’s Day with my family and did some baking. – And I read this book. I hate writing reviews like this, because I don’t want to spoil my thoughts for you now before you’ve read it but let’s just say this is potentially the harshest review I’ve ever written. I hate writing reviews for books I hate but I can’t put it any other way. This is potentially the worst book I have ever read. Not every book can be a five star sadly. Sorry ❤
That was kind of a way to segue into my wee speech that I put at the top of all ARC reviews – I was very very kindly gifted this in exchange for an honest review by YA Bound Book Tours. This will not sway my opinion on the book whatsoever, as always my thoughts are all my own.
Now that that’s out of the way let’s hop into my review.
Title: Altered Helix (Altered Helix #1)
Author: Stephanie Hansen
Genres: Young Adult, Romance, Paranormal
Publisher: Hypothesis Books
Publication Date: May 19th 2020
Pages: 89 pages
When I Read It: 21st June 2020
Goodreads Rating: 4.15 Stars
I didn’t want to take the traditional path. First, I wasn’t ready for college. Second, I was going to live with my best friend, Tiff, and work at the Haunted House. Third, did I mention the hot guy Josh that works there too? The most exciting thing about Austria’s new job, at a local haunted house, was the fact that the toughest looking people screamed the loudest. But when she meets the boy without a home, Josh, Austria’s life takes intriguing and eventful turns. Up until now, Josh has managed to hang with his Street crowd, but they’re in danger, and so is Austria, the girl Josh recently fell for. The group finds themselves joining forces with previously considered enemies who also now find themselves in danger. Deeply compassionate and full of twists, Altered Helix captures the struggle of polarized people that must work together for the greater good.
My Goodreads Review: *aka my initial thoughts, straight after (and during) reading
June 17, 2020 – 8.0% “So far the writing makes me feel very distant from the reader. It was a few pages in before anyone had a conversation. It was all internalized thoughts of the reader, a really odd mix between past and present. I like the mystery it’s leading to. Hopefully the characters get less disconnected”
June 20, 2020 – 14.0% “I’m really struggling with the writing style. It feels extremely forced and disconnected. Like everything said is being read off a script. Nothing feels real. I can already tell that everything written is written for the purpose of furthering the plot. Nothing there to simply make you enjoy the read or connect with the characters.”
June 21, 2020 – 18.0% “Half a page….That’s the time in which Austria goes from being introduced to Josh, she finds out his name. She looks at him, he smiles. He touches her arm says she has beautiful eyes. She decides this is now a romance and then kisses him. HALF A PAGE!!!! I thought I had read insta-love before but no…nothing will ever be worse than this half a page jump to love 🤮”
June 21, 2020 – 35.0% “It’s not getting any better. If I hadn’t been sent this I probably would have marked this DNF already. On their first date they both share their entire life stories and she’s already talking about loving him forever? She also has a mildly creepy connection with her dad. She doesn’t call him dad often, refers to him more as a man which is a little odd to me?”
June 21, 2020 – 52.0% “Some of these side plots seem so bizarre and left field. Human trafficking, ghosts, magical DNA, and now Ed threatening Josh. Everything seems so random and out of place. It’s not even like ooh I wonder how they connect kind of confusion, more how on earth will they ever be able to logically connect? Also Austria trying to force Josh into dating made me feel so uncomfortable.”
Characters: I wasn’t a big fan of any of the characters. It felt like there were a lot of them and you never really got to know any of them. It felt like they were written to further the plot and not like they were actually people with their own personalities. There was nothing likeable about them and they weren’t relatable in anyway. They did nothing that would suggest they had a life outwith the plot or prior to the book. Ultimately this made it dull to read because you never felt for the characters and therefore didn’t care what the consequences of their actions were. Everything they did felt scripted. It was really hard to read.
Characters = 3/10
Humour: There wasn’t any humour. I always feel bad marking down a book for a quality that I personally like but is not a necessity for a book to have so I’m giving it half marks. I would prefer if it had some to lift it and give it some more personality, but hey – that’s just what I like.
Humour = 5/10
Atmosphere: The atmosphere of the book was interesting. I loved the setting of the haunted house – it was super interesting and different. I also enjoyed the seeing into the setting of a “streetkids” life. It would have had more impact if Austria was richer or hadn’t experienced that kind of thing before and would have provided more drama to the plot as well as creating more interesting dynamic between the characters and their environment.
Atmosphere = 6/10
Writing Style: I think ultimately the writing of this book is where it fell down. If the characters had been better this could have been amazing! The plot certainly had a lot of potential to be great. But the lack-lustre characters impacted on the overall intrigue and just dragged it down. Also I found it very hard to follow, it flitted between past and present without a decent separation or an indication that time was changing. The writing was also very very heavily focused on description and not much interaction between the characters which didn’t the fact they already felt distant. Normally I am a fan of more descriptive or elaborate writing styles but because this was such a short book (only 89 pages) it didn’t have enough of a balance to warrant so much of the book being description. This then impacted on the plot because so much of the time was spent describing and reminiscing that you didn’t as much drama or intrigue from a plot that had a lot of promise. Also, I felt like there were a lot of Info-dumps in this book, but it was weird as it wasn’t the typical one massive info-dump. It was more like loads of shorter ones that felt out of place either because of what they were saying or who was saying it. This was super obvious in the part with the doctor trying to explain her “special” DNA.
Writing Style = 3/10
Plot: From the description this book sounded great. Everything I could possibly want – Romance, mystery, thriller, paranormal stuff but sadly it fell short. It felt like the book didn’t know what it wanted to be so it tried to be everything and failed. There were so many sub-plots that just didn’t work together or connect. Instead of the fantasy and harsh real-life elements grounding each other and adding believability they just seemed to oppose each other so much it was as if you were reading two separate stories. Also nothing seemed to happen in the book. The one dramatic thing happened at the 90% mark and was resolved in the same chapter so it again reinforced the idea that there was no consequences for the actions of the characters so it just lost all of it’s impact. The end felt rushed and just erased all the things you previously had been told to be true. I really was not a fan of how it played out. If I could have picked a plot line to go with I would have stuck with the homeless/streetkid and human trafficing plot – because it was far more interesting. If you took out the supernatural element of this book it would have improved it and you wouldn’t feel like anything was missing.
Intrigue: It was extremely predictable. Like I touched on above, because you don’t relate to the characters the things that should grab you and make you excited to read on just don’t work because you don’t care about what happens to them and therefore you don’t care about what happens in the book either. The fact all their answers felt scripted also distracts from the overall intrigue of the book because it feels fake and predictable. When “big plot events” happened the characters just come off as stupid or naive because they had already either guessed it would happen or had suggested something bad was about to happen.
Intrigue = 3/10
Enjoyment: If you couldn’t already tell…I strongly disliked this. (hate is a strong word) It was painful to read. There was no interest, it felt fake and forced and the characters were not only dull but badly written. My biggest gripe with this book however was at 21%. Austria is talking about the movie Ghost, with the famous actors Demi Moore and…Ethan Swayze. Yes, you read that right. ETHAN Swayze. I’ll run through my thoughts with you. Firstly my brain goes into confusion – rereading it over and over to make sure I’ve not miss-read or misconstrued the sentence. I didn’t. Then my brain goes to Patrick Swayze is potentially one of the biggest male heartthrob actors ever – how the author can get his name wrong is beyond me. Then it hits me, there’s a character in the book called Ethan and I realise what happened. At some point Ethan must have originally been called Patrick, and for whatever reason the author decided to change his name. Instead of going through and changing it all she used the replace all button. This isn’t an issue if you then proof-read your work but she obviously didn’t. How am I meant to care or enjoy a book when the author clearly didn’t take the same time or care in ensuring her book was of a good standard. I can forgive spelling and grammar errors as they are easier to slip through the cracks but this is just sloppy.
Enjoyment = 2/10
Relationships: I was holding out hope that the romance would be so cute that it would redeem this book slightly more for me. If anything it only degraded my opinion more. This is the worst case of Insta-Love I have ever read in my life. Half a page. In half a page the characters go from being introduced for the first time to kissing…AHHHHH!! Could there be anything more painful?? I’m not a fan of insta-love but I can cope with it if the romance develops and has enough to stand alone despite it’s beginnings – this did not have this at all. On their first date she talks about potentially loving him forever, this isn’t some naive thirteen year old, this girl is meant to be college age…come on now!
Relationships = 2/10
Overall Score = 29/80 or 3.6/10
This definitely was not my favourite read. I don’t think I will ever get over Ethan Swayze haha. I wished I liked this more because like I said, it had elements of promise. I hope my next read will be better. Have you read this? If so did you feel the same? Anyway, have a great day ❤