The Weight of Souls (Strange Chemistry)

The Weight of Souls - Bryony Pearce See this review and more on Whitley ReadsA galley copy was provided free by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.This books strongest advantage was in the basic concepts behind the premise, but unfortunately, the book didn’t fully take advantage of that. Taylor gets cursed by ghosts and has to pass on that curse to the murderers? Awesome! Tell me more about that! …or go to high school, yeah, that’s interesting, too.What you get on the summary, that’s it. Oh, sure, we get the background of how this curse came about, but as far as really exploring and playing with this concept, no. It’s just there. Since that was what I was most exited about, it ended up rather disappointing for me. We came into the book with Taylor already knowing (supposedly) everything about her curse, already weight down with it and accepting, so we didn’t’ get to explore the curse with her. She just told us a few things about it, and that’s it. For all we know, she didn’t explore it either, she didn’t test it or try to figure anything out about it. “I have to go find murderers? Okay, but only if I can get there on the bus.” What happens when someone’s murderer fled the country? What happens if the murderer dies before she can mark him? And most importantly, why doesn’t she try and mitigate the negative effects of this curse?Taylor, and in fact her whole family, keep this curse hidden and we’re never told why they do this. It’s provable – we learn in this book that non-ghost-seers can watch a person get eaten by the ‘Darkness,’ and ghosts can move inanimate objects. They can perceive the world around them. Taylor’s only excuse for not telling people about her curse is that they wouldn’t believe her, but she could easily just blackmail a ghost into helping her out and say “hey, knock over chairs until my friend here understands that you’re real.” Since we come into the book with her already settled into the curse, we don’t know if she’s tried this and failed or been warned away from it or never thought of it.Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem; lots of paranormal books keep things hidden for no reason and it doesn’t break the book. But most of Taylor’s drama revolves around not being able to tell people why she’s acting so curse-y, so her reasons for not telling need to be fully explored. They’re not. It was really, really irritating for me to spend so much time with this angst when the obvious answer never even got addressed. It ended up feeling like Taylor (and all her family members) went “I’m cursed now? Oh, well, guess I’ll go hide in a corner…”Speaking of hiding in a corner Taylor took a very lax attitude to the books’ main plot. She has to figure out who killed Justin, yes? Well, for having a morbid deadline hanging over her head, she certainly didn’t act very rushed. She only ever addressed or considered one course of action, and when parts of that course were going to take days or even a full week of downtime, she shrugged and waited. All things considered, one would think she’d be more aggressive about this.In fact, I think that’s my major gripe about this novel. It feels like an adult novel, in that the main character is jaded and beat down at the start of the book, which is a theme for middle-aged protagonists, instead of discovering and growing, which is a more common theme for teenagers. While that’s certainly not a requirement for a young adult novel, it did feel out of place for me.The central group of antagonists didn’t help much, either. They were bullies of the sort that are so one-dimensional and over the top that they’d find a welcoming home in a Steven King drinking game. But on top of that, they’re part of a secret society that revolves around…Truth or Dare. Really. And they take this shit seriously, even claiming to be a multi-generational thing with powerful leaders who will give you a leg up in the world as long as you’re part of their club.Based on Truth or Dare. Shitty high school pranks. Really.I could not take these guys seriously at all. Maybe if they were just a gang of kids who did this, or it was a tradition at the school, okay. But once they tried to pull the “friends in high places” card, I started rolling my eyes.The book was overall clunky, filled with contrivances, girl-on-girl hate, poorly done “flashbacks but we’ll call it a journal even though it’s written like narration and not like anyone writes in a journal”, and forced character interactions. Nothing about it felt…inspired or exciting or tense or motivated. Taylor dragged herself through this book, and so I felt dragged while reading it.