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Radiant Shadows

Sketchy (Bea Catcher Chronicles, #1)

Sketchy (Bea Catcher Chronicles, #1) - Olivia Samms Sketchy should have been a thrilling and exciting read, with dynamic characters and a unique supernatural twist on a protagonist with powers. Unfortunately, extremely poor characterization and weak plot development destroyed any chance Sketchy had at engaging me as a reader.With a plot that contained rape, murder and drug/alcohol addiction, to say that Sketchy was ambitious in scope is an understatement – and I think that is why it failed. With it’s large focus on numerous topics, Sketchy was unable to properly give each subject the appropriate care and attention it deserved, in order to make it feel authentic. Bea was confusing as a recovering addict, as it seemed like the only reason she wasn’t using was because she had gotten caught once and didn’t want to get sent back to rehab. It rarely felt like her struggle with using was something that affected her daily, even though she often commented on how it was a struggle each day not to fall back on old habits. Rape was something that was almost made a mockery of, with one scene in particular making me put the book down in disgust. Being attacked, Bea plays like she’s enjoying it, in order to distract her assailant from noticing that she’s reaching for a knife. I was never made to feel like she was in genuine danger of being raped – or killed – because I was so caught up on her ridiculous reaction to the situation.He pulls at my jeans, and I look over his right shoulder and see the keys on the floor near my left foot.I hook the heel of my boot around the ring and slowly bend my knee, dragging the keys up the left side of my body, cradling [name's] legs, and fake a sexy sigh.[...] “That’s more like it,” he moans. “You might as well enjoy it.”“I know. You’re right. Here, let me help you with my pants,” I whisper.If it hadn’t been within the last few pages of the book, I would have DNF’d it right there.I might have been better able to understand Bea’s motivations, or empathize with her struggles as a recovering addict, if I had better understood her as a protagonist. Unfortunately, her characterization in Sketchy was so poorly done that certain character traits that we’re told are pivotal to her being are completely at odds with her behaviour. For example, we’re told on several occasions that Bea’s style is retro and thrifty, that she’s a misfit who wears lots of vintage items purchased from her local thrift shop. So why are her descriptions name-dropping designer brands like they’re going out of style? (Emphasis mine).I put on a large fleece sweatshirt, a pair of jeans, a drab ecru down parka with a hood, and my UGG boots.I lock my bedroom door, strap on a green leather Coach backpack, and walk over to the window.[...] thank goodness for the ugly Isotoner leather gloves I found tucked in the pockets of the parka.Willa digs around [Bea's bag] and finds a pair of oversized, round Dior shades.What thrift store is she shopping at that carries UGG, Coach and Dior? Another big detractor from Bea’s characterization in Sketchy was the abundance of dialogue infiltrating every scene. Very little was said about how Bea was feeling, what anyone looked like or how those around her were reacting, during any conversation; everything read flat, and straight to the point.“How typical. They hate me already, and I haven’t even done anything yet. It’s my hair.”“Your hair is fierce, Bea! Rule number two: don’t speak to the cheerleaders unless you are spoken to first.”“Excuse me?”“They’re harmless. Besides, they’re in mourning.”“What do they have to be sad about?”“Oh my god! You didn’t hear about the rape?” Chris whispers.And it goes on. Nothing to indicate how Bea feels about this conversation. Nothing to indicate what tone of voice Chris is using – is he being sarcastic? Energetic? Empathetic? I’m not even going to get into how Chris was characterized – think of every stereotypical portrayal of any gay boy in high school, and you’ve got Chris down to a T.But, despite all of my criticisms, I did enjoy Sketchy’s potential, if that makes any sense. The idea of drawing the truth out of someone was really interesting, though it would have been nice to get some more details on what it felt like for Bea when she was compelled by the need to draw the truth. I also really enjoyed watching Bea battle some demons in order to help Willa, though Willa was another character who was a complete enigma.Were Samms to sit down and flesh out her characters a little more, if she were to show the reader her characters’ motivations versus telling the reader why they did things the way they did, I think Sketchy could easily have been a 3-star read for me; it did have a certain draw to it that made it (at times) a page-turner. Unfortunately, the execution of this potential filled idea fell flat.