Harper Blaine is a private investigator in Seattle. While on a routine assignment, she interviews someone for a client and gets attacked. She dies for 2 minutes before she is revived and after the attack she has been changed irrevocably. Now she sees mist and grey things. She finds out that this is the Grey - a world separating life and death which is inhabited by ghosts and other creatures. Because the core of Harper is practical (probably a necessity at her job), she hates this change in herself and has huge problems accepting that she has become a "greywalker". She begins to meet people and things connected to the Grey (ghosts, vampires and other creatures) because her change seems to have attracted them to her.
Much of the book has Harper continuing her investigations, and even though they are jobs tinted by the supernatural, a lot of phone calls and pounding pavement is involved. This made the book feel very slow although I'm sure it is a more realistic portrayal of her job than if it went faster. Also much of it is Harper trying to figure out her new ability but no one knows exactly what she can do - the help she gets is obscure academic theory - which was somewhat dry as hell to read (I think that was the point though - to be as clueless as the characters listening) and not too helpful. No matter how many times she is advised to embrace what she sees and not fight it, she can't fully accept the grey and keeps freaking out while practicing her new talents and she doesn't seem to be getting any better at it, which I think can be frustrating to read for many people. The continued stress and the "grey" wears Harper down and she often talks about how tired she is - which was beginning to bug me toward the end, although I understood why she felt that way. In all - the pace felt slow but the last 3rd is where it picked up. The last 50 pages were the most interesting - when the set up throughout the book finally paid off. I felt some satisfaction finishing it and I think that the rest of the series could be very good now that Harper's abilities have become more fully established although she has a lot more to learn. There are a couple of loose threads regarding what certain people really are and more questions about the world which I expect to be resolved/expanded in the next book. One thing though: I really wanted to know what happened to the man who attacked her in the first place - I don't think that was ever mentioned.
This is a first book by a new writer and I think I will continue to read what she has to offer. I peered at the amazon reviews and noticed the criticism was:
a) Too many creatures - I disagree. There were really only a few and nothing completely new and hard to understand - vampires and ghosts, I think I've heard of those.
b) Did not like the main character - I think Harper's inability to quickly accept what was happening to her and her tiredness connected to the grey was wearing on people, especially since in other instances like dealing with vampires and other tricky situations she seems much better and quick to adapt. I think I would have also preferred Harper to accept the grey at least halfway through the book instead of reading about the confusion and endless battles against it all. Otherwise, I didn't find the character to be a bad one. She is level-headed otherwise and good at cutting through BS (I liked a couple of instances where she put people in their place). She wasn't overly sassy/cocky which I know irritates certain people I know.
c) Found it hard to follow - Overall I disagree, the plot was fine. In terms of the writing itself - I found myself rereading sentences that felt disjointed. There were some awkwardly lyrical sentences in there. I'd be reading along and the sentences where simple and straightforward and then I'd read something that was overdone that would jar against them like "shivering spears of honey gold light combed through her hair and hit the wall behind". That one came in the middle of a conversation and for a second I was imagining something poking out of someone's hair. Also I've mentioned the obscure academic talk above, but I think that was allowable and believeable because it came from a college professor with that type of personality to get carried away with a lecture.
I'd give it a solid 7/10.
Originally posted on janicu.vox.com