Word Spelunking

The Unquiet - Jeannine Garsee I love a good ghost story, so I had high expectations for Jeannine Garsee’s The Unquiet. Unfortunately, those expectations were not met. This book has its entertaining qualities, but overall I found it to be a disappointing read.Sixteen year old Rinn Jacobs and her mother have just moved to her mother’s small hometown in Ohio and Rinn hopes to escape her past, which includes a lot of trouble and a suicide attempt. Rinn is also harboring two secrets: 1) she’s bipolar and 2) she killed her grandmother. She quickly makes friends with the popular girls at school and even begins a flirtation with a cute neighbor. Even learning that the former house-owner hanged herself in Rinn’s new room can’t scare her away from her new home and life. But then weird things at school start to happen and people blame Annaliese, a young girl who drowned in the pool twenty years ago, and Rinn decides to figure out why this ghost girl is going after her friends. The deeper she delves into this ghost mystery, the harder Rinn finds it to distinguish between reality and fantasy, and she begins to fear not only Annaliese, but herself as well.The Unquiet has a potentially captivating and original premise, but lacks great execution. There’s a genuine creepy factor to the story, but this was overshadowed by the lackluster storytelling, dull characters and predictable storyline.The one thing I actually like and enjoy in this book is the haunting, chilling atmosphere that Garsee creates. There are definitely moments that had my spine tingling and had me checking over my shoulder. Despite an overall predictable storyline, there is a build-up of suspense, which is what kept me reading. Unfortunately, the eeriness surrounding the Annaliese storyline is hampered by the slow pacing and fragmented storytelling. At almost 400 pages, this is a longer read and any real action or ghost stuff doesn’t really happen till after the half-way point. And I wish there had actually been more of the paranormal elements, because honestly, the emotional and romantic elements failed to enthrall or captivate me.I think the reason I was unable to fully enjoy this book is because I found the characters trite, unlikable, with no real dimension or layers; they’re like contrived, convenient cardboard cutouts (try saying that three times fast!). I had a hard time relating to the heroine Rinn, or even really liking her. Rinn’s new friends are shallow, boring and often mean girls and even her love interest, Nate, is dull.The flirtation between Rinn and Nate is tolerable at best. They interact by resorting to what’s meant to be humorous bantering and friendly teasing, but the humor falls flat and just had me rolling my eyes. The characters’ personalities change quickly and in a very uncomfortably jarring way.One of my biggest issues is with the way Rinn’s bipolar disorder is explored or, really, with the way it isn’t explored. Her disorder plays such an integral part of the story and I would have liked if it was explored more in-depth. I can appreciate what the author attempts to do by creating a fractured reality for Rinn, but this often leads to confusing scenes. Like I mentioned above, the mystery surrounding Annaliese is what kept me reading until the end, despite its predictability, but the actual ending of the book is a let down. I think a lot of readers will like the surprising and unexpected ending, but I found it overly campy.MY FINAL THOUGHTS: While The Unquiet has its creepy moments and potentially original premise, its unlikable characters; slow pacing and dull storyline kept me from truly enjoying it.

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