Release Date: 26th January 2016
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
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All Imogene Scott knows of her mother is the bedtime story her father told her as a child. It's the story of how her parents met: he, a forensic pathologist, she, a mysterious woman who came to identify a body. A woman who left Imogene and her father when she was a baby, a woman who was always possessed by a powerful loneliness, a woman who many referred to as troubled waters.
When Imogene is seventeen, her father, now a famous author of medical mysteries, strikes out in the middle of the night and doesn't come back. Neither Imogene's stepmother nor the police know where he could've gone, but Imogene is convinced he's looking for her mother. She decides to put to use the skills she's gleaned from a lifetime of her father's books to track down a woman she's never known, in order to find him and, perhaps, the answer to the question she's carried with her for her entire life.
The Mystery of Hollow Places is a quiet YA mystery. By that I mean the plot kind of just plods along as its own pace, without any huge reveals or exciting scenes. There was nothing thrilling about it, and while I did keep reading to find out what happened to Imogene’s father, who goes missing in the beginning, it’s an easy book to put down and forget about.
I didn’t connect with the main character at all, mostly because I found her very cynical and dark. Some people might like that, and sometimes I do, but in this case it just didn’t work for me. Imogene just wasn’t someone that I enjoyed reading about, although I did sympathise because both her parents left her. Sad times.
Having never suffered intense depression nor bipolar disorder, I can’t really comment on how this book portrays those mental illnesses. Imogene’s mother was severely depressed, and she ran off and left her daughter and partner behind. The Mystery of Hollow Places follows Imogene as she tries to find her father, who leaves her at the beginning of the book, and as a result she finds out more about her mother and her past.
I wasn’t engrossed in the mystery at all, to be honest. I think I had a problem connecting to Podos’ writing style, which just didn’t work for me in terms of pulling me in and keeping me interested. The author’s writing was good enough, but it was nothing outstanding and I wasn’t blown away by it.
Overall, this is a very flat debut that had such promise. I wish I was able to connect with Imogene more, but her voice along with her treatment of other people was such a let down that I just couldn’t.