The Wood, by Chelsea Bobluski
On Sale Date: August 1, 2017
**I received this as an e-galley from Feiwel & Friends through Edelweiss in return for an honest review.**
My Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3 out of 5 stars)
After her father goes missing in the woods that they protect, Winter tries to seek the truth in what happened, why the wood is changing, and what it all has to do with the arrival of a mysterious stranger in this thrilling YA debut.
When Winter’s dad goes missing during his nightly patrol of the wood, it falls to her to patrol the time portals and protect the travelers who slip through them. Winter can’t help but think there’s more to her dad’s disappearance than she’s being told.
She soon finds a young man traveling in the wood named Henry who knows more than he should. He believes if they can work together to find his missing parents, they could discover the truth about Winter’s dad.
The wood is poisoned, changing into something sinister—torturing travelers lost in it. Winter must put her trust in Henry in order to find the truth and those they’ve lost.
While I thought this book started off pretty well, by the halfway point I kind of realized it wasn’t as great as I had originally thought it would be. It’s an interesting concept – of a wood outside time where Old Ones live and mortal guardians protect the fabric of time from travelers who accidentally cross into it – but I think it was mainly the predictability of the plot and the characters that had me feeling disappointed in this read.
The plot itself feels original and interesting in terms of the overall concept, but the parts dealing with Winter’s father and the sudden evil in the wood felt predictable and uninteresting. I kind of guessed who the “Big Bad” was almost immediately from the start, so there was little shock factor there, and the pacing was quick, with things happening almost too fast and too easily at times. The world building was easy to understand, but oftentimes there would be additional information that someone would share with Winter that would conveniently become super important almost immediately after being revealed.
As for the characters, I honestly can’t say I saw a lot of growth with them, especially Winter. She kind of remained the same to me throughout the book, and I never really felt much of a connection towards her. Her relationship with her mother was probably the most natural thing in the whole book, while her relationship with Henry, the eighteenth century love interest, moved far too quickly and far too cheesily. I mean, she acknowledges it herself how fast her feelings seem to grow for him, but it still happens and so their relationship just felt like it all happened too fast. Then, of course, there is the evil one, who feels evil for the sake of having a ‘shocking plot twist’ factor, and everything he says and does to try and get people to “understand why he is doing what he is doing and join him” feels super cheesy and cartoonish.
Everything moved just far too quickly in this book, the relationships especially, the characters had little to no growth, and the plot was easily predictable. I will say that the concept was interesting, and that I might still recommend this to tweens who are struggling to find a happy medium between middle grade books and some of the more intense teen books, but to me personally it didn’t appeal.