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Refuge - Carole Rummage The original review can be found here: http://www.yourentertainmentcorner.com/?p=29666.

Refuge can be used as a lesson on what not to do in Novel Writing 101. The plot is weak (if I can even say there is one), the characters are two-dimensional, and the writing is mediocre. Rummage does a lot to describe the area in the South where the story takes place, but there is nothing to grab the reader’s attention to make them want to continue reading. I didn’t care about the characters. I thought I’d quit at the halfway point but figured I was almost done and needed to just push through. I should have quit.

Observations:

There is the requisite YA drivel—guy meets girl, guy and girl fall instantly in love, guy has a secret which will keep him from being with girl. All that is fine and to be expected, but Rummage does nothing to make this experience different, especially with the ending being so abrupt and unfulfilling. I’ve read this type of novel before and it’s been done much better.

The insta-love is done quicker than two-minute grits. I mean, Laney meets Gabe, spends an hour or two with him and boom! they are in love. I don’t see why or get the pull between the two characters to justify the constant mooning over one other. These two are the most boring protagonists I’ve come across. Yes, Laney is gorgeous (but doesn’t know it), is suffering a major loss in life and doesn’t believe there’s any more happiness in the world for her. Gabe is gorgeous—muscular, great eyes, hair, with a Southern accent to add on that extra sweetness—but doesn’t fit in with anyone, and has an ominous illness lurking in the background. You can figure out Gabe’s secret “illness” after meeting him (it’s not that much of a secret, by the way). I don’t know why Laney doesn’t figure it out until the end of the book. Her character’s revelation was frustrating and unsatisfying.

The characters seem detached. Gabe and Laney are teenagers, but neither of them speaks nor acts like such. I think Rummage needed to do major research in this area because her teenage voice is that of an adult.

The characters repeat things. A lot. A. Lot. It’s almost as if Rummage thinks we’ve forgotten what anyone’s said. I didn’t forget; I couldn’t forget because it was repeated repeatedly! This annoyed me and made me want to stop reading.

The story isn’t a difficult read. It’s just blah. The bit of action we’re given isn’t action at all. Rather, it’s a mystery of where did the resident douche bag go and who’s responsible for his disappearance. Considering no one cared enough about Matthew to miss him, I’d say that’s not enough of a climax to warrant this novel having a plot.

Gabe and Laney are so compatible it’s sickening. Everything she does, he does too. And I mean everything. I understand wanting characters to have things in common, but everything? Ok, so Gabe is an artist and Laney is a gymnast/pianist. I’d still put that under them having similar activities that they’re good at. At any rate, it got on my nerves and made me question how realistic the protagonists were supposed to be.

Refuge takes place in the South (don’t ask me where because I can’t remember), yet I don’t believe it. Laney’s uncle says “Bless your heart” and Gabe calls her “Darlin’” and just about every word that ends in “g” is pronounced without one. That does not a southern dialogue make. I felt a little cheated with respect to ambiance. Setting the tone for a scene with accurate sayings, actions and background is paramount to achieving the desired effect. One more thing Refuge fails to do.

This reads like a first draft rather than a well thought out, edited novel. The blurb on the inside cover is better than the book itself. If Rummage wants us to see ourselves in this world, she has to make it believable. Not one thing that occurs in Refuge is realistic. Also, the book is borderline depressing but I think that is one component prevalent in some of the more recent YA novels I’ve read. You know, to make your book as sad as possible to keep readers invested. It doesn’t work this time. I do not recommend this book to anyone. It needs a serious rewrite.

I was provided an ARC by NetGalley through the publisher Cedar Fort for an honest review.