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Hush, Hush
Becca Fitzpatrick
Simon & Schuster Children's, 291 pages

Hush, Hush
Becca Fitzpatrick
Becca Fitzpatrick's first book, Hush, Hush, debuted as a New York Times bestseller. She graduated college with a degree in health, which she promptly abandoned for storytelling. When not writing, she's most likely running, prowling sale racks for shoes, or fulfilling her mission to taste every flavor of ice cream under the sun. She lives in Colorado, the lone girl in a house filled with boys.

Becca Fitzpatrick Website
ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Dan Shade

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Why is it everything inhuman wants to be human? Robots want to be human, androids want to be human, and even some aliens desire human flesh. Look what the Cylons did to themselves in Battlestar Galactica. And now we have a fallen angel who wants to be human. I'll ask why again. We are weak, disease riddled, walking slabs of meat that are dying a little every day. One could say that each step we take brings us closer to the grave. Humans aren't too bright either. For all our scientific discovery, we have fought two world wars and countless others, nearly destroyed our home with all manner of pollution, and are violence prone. We've assassinated presidents, put immoral men into the oval office, and made gods out for rock and movie stars. Replicants in Blade Runner want to be human so bad they risk death by returning to Earth. But they been "gifted" with false memories and just want to live longer. Data, on Star Trek: The Next Generation, would gladly give up his perfection for our imperfections. Data consistently rewrites his sub-routines so that he may appear more human-like. Tiny things such as the blink of an eye at the right moment are important to him. And then when OCP designs a superior policeman in Robocop all he can think of is being human again when he should have been concentrating on all the good he could do as a 24/7 policeman. It would only take one Robocop to clean up the streets of Wilmington, Delaware where there are nightly drive-by shootings and other violent offenses. Not to mention New York, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, or Los Angeles which are all high crime cities.

I'll tell you why all these non-humans want to be us -- they want to FEEL. They want emotions. More probably they want passion. We can give them the five senses and more, but we rarely can bestow emotion. The replicants in Blade Runner are exceptions, and there are others as in the movie Screamers, also based on a story by Philip K. Dick, who develop it on their own. Data's daughter Lal developed emotions but every time it caused a neural network to burn out. But for the sake of argument, let's pretend we can give the inhuman humanity. If you think about it, isn't emotion our biggest weakness? Don't we cower in fear, shed tears at the slightest provocation, cling to each other till our dying breath, run from danger, dial 911 instead of going to help the neighbors next door, and perform countless other rituals to bring good feelings?. Last month I had my palm read on the boardwalk at Lavalette, NJ. She had nothing but good news. I will live to be 90, I'm the luckiest man alive, etc. For the sake of argument I think emotions are our biggest problem. All of this and more was said to make be feel good.

How often must we psych ourselves up to do the tiniest thing? You know the worst that can happen when we ask out a girl? She might say no! Yet, how many "dream girls" are waiting to be asked? Countless! When I was a student at Brigham Young University back in the 70s, a sociological study was done that showed that only 10 percent of the girls there did 90% of the dating. And that was back when there were three women to every man. What's it mean? A lot of male students are too scared to ask out the girl of their dreams. I would gladly give up my emotions to think with a clear head tomorrow. I envy Mr. Spock's logical perspective on life (although he's not really a good example because we all know he feels emotion). We spend our lives trying to learn to control our emotions just so we can have a down-to-earth discussion with our significant other. I don't think feeling is what it's cracked up to be. Nor do I feel I would be lost or weakened by the disappearance of my emotions. My morning ritual that gets me out of bed is getting old and I'm tired of crying at movies.

And now, Becca Fitzpatrick has created a fallen angel who wants to be human. It appears to me that in each of these situations the non-humans are giving up what makes them special to become one of the herd. To my mind we could use a superhero. I think the switch to make is the other way around. I would gladly give up my frail and unhealthy body for Data's perfect one. Where's the line I need to stand in to volunteer for the Robocop project? Once in a conversation with my wife, I was arguing that no sacrifice would be too great when compared to all the good one could do if he became Robocop. Her remark was that I was cruel because she wouldn't be able to hold me anymore. There we go with the emotion stuff again. It seems to me that a few of us should be willing to give up the flesh for the rest of us. We eventually had to discontinue that conversation because she thought it heartless and cruel of me to leave her "alone" even though I'd be around. It would be like being Rocky Balboa and having Mickey in your corner.

Well, enough of my aspirations to become a superhero and we'll move on to Patch and his desire to become human in Hush, Hush. But, let's talk about Nora first. Nora is a high school boy's wet dream. She is tall and willowy, long dark hair, and a nearly perfect figure. Compared to her best friend Vee's somewhat pudgy figure. On the other hand, Nora's shyness is the opposite of Vee's outgoing personality. Nora is the best student and hopes for an Ivy League school. Vee is satisfied to just get by with school. All the drama started one day in science class when Coach Harvey changed the seating chart to do a little scientific sleuthing as he put it. His plan was to force students to get to know a new lab partner. This paired Patch with Nora and where all the trouble began. Nora finds herself simultaneously drawn to and repulsed from Patch. He doesn't help as he offers no information about himself. He is literally the man without a past or so he would want you to think. However, Patch is drawn to Nora for a number of reasons that unravel as the book unfolds.

Most of this supernatural teenage romance is stereotypical with the standard characters you would find in any high school. For this reason, I had a tendency to skim any part of the book that did not involve Patch, the fallen angel. He is Fitzpatrick's strongest character and she does a great job of slowly allowing him to develop so that for a long time you don't know if he's good or bad. Although, deep in the back of my mind I had a feeling that he was a good guy from the moment he appears in the novel. But Fitzpatrick's trick is to make you wonder if you are wrong. Patch would make an excellent superhero. He has speed, strength, smarts, and an instinct about when to show up. Fitzpatrick doesn't seem to tell all there is to know about Patch's abilities. I have a feeling that all we see is the tip of the iceberg. Nora is a good character but she could just as easily have been Bella in the Twilight series. The two are exchangeable in my mind.

Patch is the only character that makes the story compelling. Nora and Vee worry about boys all the time and Fitzpatrick adds a couple of could-be-bad-guys from a private school but their characters are again very predictable and boring. Alex and his pal are after chicks. One of them does turn out to be the villain but his confrontation with Patch is a letdown. Patch is such an excellent character that you expect more from the book. Drawing another parallel to the Twilight series, Patch could easily substitute for Edward. In fact, I would like Patch more as Jacob as I've always found Edward to be sort of a wimpy vampire. What kind of a vampire falls in live with a human? I mean, aren't we their food? Patch, on the other hand, takes nothing from us and always comes through when he is needed. Patch knows when to kick butt and when to kick back. I like him.

I know I've said some negative things about this novel but I still recommend you read it. Every scene with Patch is a strong one. And Fitzpatrick does do a good job of building the tension even if the pace is a little slow. Patch is a memorable character. It's been several weeks since I finished the book and I still can't get him out of my mind. I don't think I will forget his story for it is a sad one. You know how you can read a book and then two weeks later not remember any of it? I don't think that is going to happen to me with Hush, Hush. Read it and find out for yourself.

Copyright © 2010 by Dan Shade

Dan Shade is a retired college professor who loves to read young adult science fiction, fantasy, and horror. But he doesn't draw the line there. He also enjoys writing science fiction and hopes to publish someday. In the meantime, you can find him at lostbooks.org (under construction).


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