Review: Shallow Graves by Kali Wallace

January 28, 2016 Review 22 ★★★

Review: Shallow Graves by Kali Wallace
Shallow Graves by Kari Wallace
(Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository)

Publisher: Katherine Tegen
Source: Edelweiss
Pages: 368
Release Date: January 26th 2016
Genres: Death & Dying, Fiction, Paranormal, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Young Adult
For fans of Holly Black and Nova Ren Suma, a gripping, hauntingly atmospheric novel about murder, revenge, and a world where monsters—human and otherwise—lurk at the fringes.

When seventeen-year-old Breezy Lin wakes up in a shallow grave one year after her death, she doesn’t remember who killed her or why. All she knows is that she’s somehow conscious—and not only that, she’s able to sense who around her is hiding a murderous past. In life, Breezy was always drawn to the elegance of the universe and the mystery of the stars. Now she must set out to find answers and discover what is to become of her in the gritty, dangerous world to which she now belongs—where killers hide in plain sight and a sinister cult is hunting for strange creatures like her. What she finds is at once empowering, redemptive, and dangerous.

Tense, complex, and wholly engaging, Shallow Graves is a stunning first novel from Kali Wallace.

I received this book for free from the source listed above in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

aliseAs you might remember from my SWORD AND VERSE review, I was in a major reading slump a few days ago. Trying to read a high fantasy novel during that time was a challenge, so I started something else on the side. That something else was SHALLOW GRAVES, and it hooked me right from the first sentence.

“The first time I killed a man it was an accident.”

The pages flew by as the book teases you with its mystery-you want to find out what exactly is happening to the main character as soon as possible. For a near 400 page novel, SHALLOW GRAVES felt like a quick, short read. There were also bits of humor, which lightened up the (at times) dark subject matter.

Something incredibly refreshing, especially for the genre: there were barely (if any) hints of a romance. Actually, this book didn’t really explore interpersonal relationships much at all, but instead focused on Breezy’s internal reflections and how she reacted to the mysterious world around her. Another bonus, there was diversity and bisexuality, which was awesome to see in a YA, especially since it was weaved in seamlessly and not made a big deal of.

“I had never known this world existed. I hadn’t asked for any part of it.
I didn’t want it. But you can’t go back to not knowing something once
you’ve been thrown into the middle of it.”

One negative aspect to the book not focusing on character relationships was that none of the characters felt fully developed. They lacked depth and could have been fleshed out more; it was hard to form a connection or care about any of them besides Breezy, and even she felt distant.

It had been ages since I read a paranormal YA book, and this book made me appreciate the genre again. It introduced a new concept about life and death and meaning rather than boy meets girl but can’t be together because X. The world Wallace created fit well for a standalone, it was just right without being overwhelming or underdeveloped, although there is major potential for more due to the somewhat open (but satisfying) ending.

“There was a whole world out there to explore,
magic and monsters and a million inexplicable things…”

Overall, SHALLOW GRAVES was engrossing, mysterious and a tad creepy but just missed that extra oomph and lacked a clear overarching plot. I would definitely check out this author again though.

Rating Report
Overall: 3.3

22 Responses to “Review: Shallow Graves by Kali Wallace”

  1. Michelle @ Pink Polka Dot Books

    It feels like it’s been a long time since I’ve read a YA Paranormal too. I love the sounds of this one… the fact that there’s really no romance kind of makes me want to read it more!! I get so sick of forced in romance in books where it really doesn’t belong. That first sentence though!! It definitely make me want to read more. I’ve been in a mild reading slump for a WHILE and really need books that start off really attention-getting. Great review!
    Michelle @ Pink Polka Dot Books recently posted…New YA Book Releases For The Week Of 1/24

    • Alise

      It’s especially a rare thing to read a YA paranormal without romance! It definitely grabbed me right from the beginning :)

    • Alise

      I feel you, I usually have to have some romance too ;) When Bec recommends me something the first thing I ask is whether or not there is romance in it, haha. Thanks!

  2. Jessica @ a GREAT read

    OOoh nice! I am super excited to read this one! I love a good “ghost” book and having the heroine be a ghost is a rare feat, but I look forward to checking it out! It’s officially in my TBR mountain…now just need to figure out when to read it! LOL! Great review!
    Jessica @ a GREAT read recently posted…Random Thursday

    • Alise

      The fast pacing was great in a book this size, I actually thought some things could have been developed more. Yeah!

  3. czai

    I really like the sound of this book but no focus on character relationship? That made me think. I’d still like to give it a try though but I’m not excited on getting it right now. Maybe soon :)
    czai recently posted…[REVIEW] UnWholly

  4. Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews

    So other than the characters lacking depth this sounds like a very solid read! I haven’t read a YA paranormal in quite some time either so I’m really liking the sound of this one – ESPECIALLY since it’s a paranormal with NO romance! I didn’t even know those existed LOL! Colour me surprised XD I’ll definitely be checking this one out! Thanks for the great review as always Alise^^ xx
    Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews recently posted…Review: Winter

  5. Brooke

    I really enjoyed this one. I flew through it. I actually thought the main character was great. Being dead and all I thought she needed to be aloof like she was. She did need a bit more build up, though. I definitely feel like this author could do another book and expand on the characters. I liked how the theme was not at all what I thought it would be and that it turned out to be more of a paranormal read, which I’ve not read a lot of lately. Glad you enjoyed this one!
    Brooke recently posted…Release Day Blast: Elementals by Michelle Madow @MichelleMadow

    • Alise

      The main character was really interesting, and I’m glad we got to see her kind of come to terms with things. Yeah, I wish we had gotten to see more from the side characters. Thanks, I’m glad you liked this one too!

  6. Lola

    I am enjoying mystery novels lately, so I like the sound of that part, but the waking up in a garve part sounds seriously creepy. I usually do prefer it if books focus a bit on characetr relationships as I like that aspect in books and I like to get to know the characters. However I don’t mind when in mystery books relationships get a bit less focus as long as the book stays interesting and I can relate a bit to the characters. Great review!
    Lola recently posted…Review: The Semester of Our Discontent by Cynthia Kuhn

    • Alise

      If you do read this one, let me know! I’d be curious to read your thoughts on it :) Character dynamics are important to me as well, which was why I rated this one in-between. Thank you!

    • Alise

      It really was so refreshing, especially since for awhile there paranormal YA was just following the same formula again and again. Thank you :)

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