I just finished reading "Intwine," Burbank author Christina Moss' debut novel, and for the life of me I cannot tell if I loved or hated it.
"Intwine" tells the story of Juliette Greenmoss, a Burbank resident whose life is flipped upside-down when she falls in love with an interstellar rock-star prince named Seth. Think "Twilight," but with aliens. Moss calls the genre "young adult science fiction romance." Like many others, I'm personally sick of seeing vampires everywhere, but instead of being a departure from the zeitgeist, forbidden alien love feels like more of the same.
The content is not what clouds my judgment on the book, however. Moss proves herself to be a surprisingly adept storyteller. It's a girl meets boy; girl falls in love with boy; girl discovers boy is an alien; galactic intrigue ensues storyline. All the necessary plot points are hit at the perfect moments to keep a reader in suspense. Moss also excels at writing description. The world she creates is vibrant and easily pictured in the mind's eye.
The problem with the book stems from two particular points. First, its acknowledged identity as a cheesy sci-fi romance makes it a little too sugary to wade through at times. Second, as brilliant as Moss is at writing description and setting, her dialogue leaves much to be desired. The characters are often repetitive, and their conversations are seldom realistic. There are a few too many exclamation points, and far too many expository remarks. It's not uncommon for the two main characters, Seth and Juliette, to escape a dangerous situation, masterfully crafted and wonderfully painted, and follow it up with a conversation that repeats the entire encounter, beat for beat.
All that being said, though, I couldn't stop reading no matter how hard I tried. I frequently found myself complaining aloud about the writing, only to dive right back in with the next chapter. In fact, there were several instances where I threw the book down, determined not to finish it at all out of frustration, the dialogue being so difficult to handle. After a while, however, I would always find myself thinking about the characters and wondering what was going to happen to them.
As I mentioned, Moss crafts a beautiful story full of vivid descriptions and well-developed characters. These are things that readers tend to remember, not specific lines of dialogue or clunky, repetitive passages. I can imagine young adult readers being more lenient when it comes to certain problems that I had with the book. If you've got a teenager at home who loves "Twilight," or who loves to read in general, "Intwine" is probably a great new title to pick up for him or her.
BRIAN MCGACKIN is an alumnus of USC's graduate creative writing program, where he focused on poetry and literary critical analysis.
What: "Intwine," by Christina Moss
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction Romance, 303 pages, Adamantine Publishing House