Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Review: Flutter by Gina Linko
Author: Gina Linko
Rating: 3.5 Stars
You have to bear with me because this review is like the Night Bus in Harry Potter or the journey the hobbits took to Isengard in Lord of the Rings - a bumpy ride. Flutter forced me to stay awake well past midnight just to finish it, but in the end, I unfortunately can't say I was satisfied. Up until the last four chapters, though, I was ready to give 5 Stars to Linko's debut, despite its minor errors. Unlike most authors, Linko sucked me into her tale; she made me care about her characters. Yet, when the ending arrived, I felt cheated. Flutter is a perfect example of a novel where my heart and mind are not my own. Instead, I fully delved into this story, body and soul, only to emerge from it deeply, profoundly, and utterly disappointed. As such, I really am not sure where my final thoughts lie when it comes to this piece. I loved it? I hated it? You decide.
From the very beginning itself, Flutter is written beautifully, introducing us to its protagonist, Emery, and her unique situation. Every couple of chapters, we are given short glimpses into experiences that Emery feels on a parallel dimension. You see, Emery has frequent seizures that she is unable to control, knocked out cold and transported to another world. Although she believes she is time traveling, the team of scientists that experiment on her as per her father's wishes rarely believe her. Although her illness physically weakens her greatly, Emery wants more of a life than a mere lab rat, thus running away to the small town of Esperanza, a quaint area that the little boy of her seizures tells her to travel to. It is there that she rents a remote cabin in the woods and meets Ash, a boy just as tortured - if not more - than she is. Emery may have ran away to find answers to her questions, but instead, all she's finding are more mysteries, the greatest of which is Ash himself.
Emery, despite her physical restrictions, is a strong and capable heroine, fiercely stubborn and unrelentless in her quest both for answers and freedom. Not only is her narration original, but the romance she experiences is utterly refreshing as well. Both Ash and Emery are characters with dark pasts, their circumstances leading them to be deeply mistrustful of others. Although their attraction to one another is instantaneous, however, their romance most certainly is not. It develops over time, a steady push-and-pull relationship with neither of them willing to open up completely, yet wanting to at the same time. Unlike most romances, however, it fails to resort to unnecessary drama, focusing instead on these two characters and their difficult path towards one another. From the surface, it seems as if the romance in Flutter is one I normally would not fall for, but I was utterly invested in this love story.
You see, it really is my fault for being so disappointed in the end. I threw my heart into the romance between Ash and Emery, their difficult situations, their constant fear so that by the time I neared the end of this novel, I began to expect a stunning conclusion. After all, Linko had delivered on practically every front - well-developed characters, a stunning romance, secondary characters with depth, and even a plethora of plot twists that really did surprise me with their subtlety and integration into the plot. Yet, the ending was gutting - in the British way. In the sense that I felt like re-writing in something completely different. On one hand, I truly cannot see another ending for these two, and on that front, it was perfect. Yet, the manner in which it was executed, filled with drama, an influx of new characters, and villains who resorted back to being black-and-white from their former depth left me feeling as if it was all wrapped with a bow labeled convenient.
Frankly, I myself do not know how this story could have ended. I acknowledge that it was the right ending and the glimmer of hope we receive at the end is stunningly executed, but the manner in which the characters reach that area in their lives is, honestly, a little lame. It left me feeling as if this was simply a good love story and not a deep, provocative novel about life, living, and moving on. Ultimately, the issues that Emery and Ash had were never resolved. Granted, they grew as characters and accepted certain circumstances, but there was still so much more to be done with these characters. Flutter lacked closure.
While most readers may complain by being left with a plethora of questions, for some reason, I was able to overlook this entire fact. As a student deeply seated in science, in answers, it is rare for me to let go of my constant curiosity, but Gina Linko did it; she made me so invested in her tale that I forgot to wince at the slight discrepancies in plot or the lags in writing. In the end, though, she left me with a gaping hole in my heart, just not in a good way. Thus, I am unable to recommend this to anyone. While it remains true that I fell in love with Flutter and immensely enjoyed it, so much so that I was willing to give it 5 Stars at one point, the end does not justify the means of reading this. For another reader, perhaps, this book will prove to be a treasure to cherish beyond all others, but for now, I will simply resort to falling in love with whatever Linko writes up next.