by Amanda Hocking
by Amanda Hocking
The Carnival is all she’s ever known but an old terror could tear it down.
In the spring of 1982, the carnival comes to smalltown Cauldry, Louisiana. Then events take a dangerous turn. For Mara Besnick, the carnival is home. It’s also a place of secrets, hidden powers and a buried past making it hard to connect with outsiders. However, sparks fly when she meets local boy Gabe Alvarado. As they become inseparable, Mara realises Gabe is hiding his own secrets. And his family legacy could destroy Mara’s world.
I have enjoyed every Amanda Hocking book I’ve read. They’re fun, action-packed and not particularly heavy so they provide an escape from reality that doesn’t really require me to invest all of my emotions. In saying that, I was very disappointed by Freeks. The plot was very slow, the romance was incredibly shallow and the characters were not as formed at I would have liked. In short, this is the first Hocking book I have disliked.
We follow Mara, a girl who has always known life on the road. This travelling circus is her family and because of their financial difficulties, they’re relying on this one job at Cauldry to get them back on track. As soon as we enter Cauldry, we know it’s not a good place. Mara and her mum are getting weird vibes and all the carnival member’s powers are acting up. First sign yet they all remain determined to stay because of the money. Pretty soon we meet Gabe, sparks fly and they kiss.
This book had a major case of insta-love. Gabe and Mara are already imparting heartfelt declarations and making out after like an hour after they kiss and I’m left in awe. Is this how fast people are supposed to fall in love because I’m pretty sure it ain’t? Furthermore, I did not feel anything coming off from their relationship. I’m typically shipping relationships in books pretty hard. I can feel how much they love each other and I’m normally in love with the guy as much as the girl is. However, this book did not have me this way. I felt nothing. Nada. Zilch. I did not feel their connection or their affection for each other AT ALL. I simply felt so separate from the whole story. Also, for all of the romantic scenes, I felt like the best friend third wheel cringing at their PDA like stopppp, we get it.
The writing was also really lacking in this book. Amanda is normally really good with hooking us from the beginning with the intensity and non stop, action-filled moments. This book just fell so flat. Firstly, it read really young. The language was incredibly simple and monotonous. Secondly, the build up of tension and emotion was really bland as well as also the action scenes themselves. Especially the action-scenes, they seemed really rushed and ended too soon before I could really get addicted. The book was an accumulation of poorly developed events causing the plot to seem to drag on and also for nothing to seem to happen, as well.
Despite all those negatives, this novel did have great potential to be an addictive, original and deliciously creepy story. I want to know more about why the carnival members have such incredible abilities. We know Mara’s is an ancestral thing but what about the others? Were they just born with them? Did something significant occur in their lives? Is there a common element to all these powered individuals? I wish this books delved more into this, it would’ve been so fascinating and also would’ve provided more world building and dimension to the whole story. I loved reading about the dynamic all the members have with each other. I enjoyed reading about how close they are, reading their teasing banter and jokes as well as also the way they look out for one another. It’s all very cute and those moments definitely stood out from the rest of the plot.
Mara’s experience of being haunted could have been so awesome and the scenes where people were getting attacked and bloody could have been amazing! Freeks simply could have been one of the best horror books in YA genre. If only this book could cut out all the fluff and give us more dough. I wanted more of the creepy and frightening intensity of being haunted by a disgusting ghost and more description of people’s bloodied injuries and attacks.
All in all, a book that could have been so incredible but unfortunately lacked the story-telling to let that play out. This is definitely not one of Amanda Hocking’s best novel but I won’t let that define her because I know what she’s capable of and the fantastic stories she’s given us before. She just missed the mark this time.