Author: Alyson Noel
Genre: MG/YA, paranormal, spinoff
Release Date: April 24, 2012 (expected)
Summary: This time, Riley might really have bitten off more than she’s ready for. After practically begging the Council for a more challenging Soul Catch, she is assigned an actual Roman gladiator—Theocoles, the Pillar of Doom. How is Riley, a skinny twelve-year-old, supposed to get through to him? Then she meets the beautiful Messalina, who convinces her that her only chance is to become part of this world. To accomplish this, Messalina helps Riley through a dramatic, mystical makeover, transforming her into the beautiful and mature teen she’s always wanted to be. Finally, Riley can experience her first boyfriend and her first kiss. With a dream this enchanting, will she ever want to leave?
☆: 3.5/5 – another great Riley Bloom adventure!
Review: Even though this apparently isn’t the end of Riley’s adventures, it really kind of felt like it. “Whisper” is one of the more Riley-intensive books out of her series so far – we don’t see much of Bodhi (thankfully, he kind of annoys me in a ’60s hipster kind of way), and we see Riley developing as a main character in a very satisfying character arc within this installment of the series. However, I feel like Noel really could have knocked it out of the park with this one and ended the quartet as it is now, and I was disappointed that she didn’t because by the end of this book, I was wondering where else Riley has to go/what things left she has to do.
While the idea of Messalina sucking Riley into this past of everything she could have had on Earth had she lived a little longer, or allowed herself to stay within Messalina’s and Theocole’s past was really interesting, I felt that it was very underplayed in a lot of areas. Noel could have gone totally over the top and made Messalina a very powerful/possibly evil (yet understandable and tragic) antagonist, and I’m still puzzled as to why she didn’t. If anything, I wanted Messalina to be more powerful than she was, instead of the repeated Groundhog Day of Riley waking up within this past where she gets everything she wants over and over again. A boyfriend, a teenage body instead of a tween body, beauty, riches, everything is in Riley’s grasp as Messalina’s “sister” within this past, and yet it wasn’t fully taken advantage of. While Noel does a good job with going for all of Riley’s unresolved needs as a ghost/Soul Catcher through Messalina’s spell, I felt like she just didn’t dig quite deeply enough.
However, what I got was satisfying enough to keep me reading until the end. I liked how Riley was awoken from Messalina’s spell, and the tragedy that was Messalina and Theocole’s romance was sadly delicious to behold (though I wish those scenes between those two had been longer, as well). This is a surprisingly quick read, and I think that Noel fans that enjoyed the “Immortals” series and the “Riley Bloom” series thus far will really enjoy this installment. I just wish that Noel had pulled out all the stops, MG audience or not.
Short review, but this book is pretty short as it is. “Whisper” will be out April 24th 2012 from Square Fish/Macmillan in North America. Fans of the “Immortals”/”Riley Bloom” series definitely can’t miss this installment of the series, so be sure to check it out then.