*Thank you to AuthorBuzz via NetGalley for providing me a digital ARC of this novel for review*
I love going into books blind — it means I have zero expectations and tons of expectations at the same time. A strange dichotomy, but one that makes for a unique reading experience.
I went into ‘Arivaca’ completely blind. No recommendations, no expectations, no pre-reading hype. Total carte blanche head-first dive into the book.
And it was good. It is — there’s no denying that ‘Arivaca’ is objectively a good book. It has a more than promising beginning, reminiscent of Louis Sachar’s classic YA novel ‘Holes’ — a personal favourite of mine — in which a teenage boy goes away to a ranch that will help him recover while simultaneously being punished as opposed to serving time in prison.
But this is a more fantastical world than ‘Holes’ which, despite its elements of magical realism, didn’t have its boys develop magical powers and try to protect holy relics from King Solomon’s Temple. There was potential in that premise, but the problem isn’t the story: it’s the writing.
The simplicity of the writing means that these characters start out poorly: they’re poorly sketched, they interact poorly, and their dialogue is cringe-inducing. They do, however, develop. That’s a plus, despite some of the interactions and chemistry feeling more than a little forced, even through the end. Furthermore the pace at which the story unravels is very, very slow. There was more than one moment while reading where I thought, “Where are we going with this?” Overall, the reading of this novel felt more like a taxing chore than an enjoyable activity.
But, on the whole, as a first novel it’s a solid and good try. There are definitely going to be people who will enjoy it and want to continue on with the series — I just don’t think it was my cup of tea.