This is my review for Untethered by Katie Hayoz – I received my review copy of Untethered from XpressoBookTours. This in no way influenced thoughts or had any impact on my review.
UNTETHERED is a standalone YA novel about astral projection and accepting yourself for who you are. It features Sylvie, set in present day America, who keeps becoming separate from her body without knowing why.
Sylvie isn’t comfortable in her own skin. In fact, there are times she can’t even manage to stay inside it. But if there is one thing she’s sure of, it’s her love for Kevin Phillips. She’s willing to stake everything on it –her family, her friends, and possibly her soul.
Sixteen-year-old Sylvie has been best friends with Cassie forever. But everything is turned around when the boy Sylvie’s loved since fifth grade falls for Cassie. Devastated, Sylvie intends to get Kevin by any means possible, even if it involves treachery, deceit, and the dark side of astral projection. She is positive her plans will give her what she wants, but she doesn’t count on it all spiralling out of control.
The title is, in my opinion, slightly cliche – I’d have liked a title which reflected the astral projection slightly more, since that was the central plot point. However, the chapter names were well done and felt genuinely original. The title definitely relates to the contents of the novel, although not in the way I was expecting. “Tethered” implies, certainly to me, some sort of connection between physical and spiritual body which isn’t particularly addressed at any point.
Again, I read this in ebook format so I don’t have much to say about the cover. I do quite like it, however, as it was what drew me towards requesting a review copy. I’m not sure about the relevance of the multiple doors – perhaps shadows would have been more relevant considering the events of the novel – but in terms of being visually artistic, it’s an elegant cover.
I was expecting a supernatural or mystical plot but instead I got astral projection. It didn’t quite sit with the synopsis, and I didn’t like the direction the novel went in, especially towards the end. I understand that the overall message was accepting yourself, but this comes with Sylvie releasing she is pretty after all. As if being ugly meant she couldn’t accept herself. In parts it felt like an attempt to follow a similar path to Every Day by David Leviathan, but poorly. Perhaps this was not aimed at anyone over the age of fourteen, but even then it felt poorly constructed.
Sylvie annoyed me, there’s no way to be kind about this. Initially I was annoyed but believed I might grow to respect or even tolerate her – unfortunately not. Her ignorance about “shadows” could be passed off as a character flaw – being naive is understandable. Not knowing what ICU meant, or what pneumonia was, is crossing beyond believable. Betraying a friend is also not something I can believe: Sylvie is flawed beyond what I would be willing to accept. This doesn’t even begin to cover the situation with her parents or her sense of self image. Sylvie is presented as an air headed, materialistic, needy teenager with – as far as I can see – no real qualities. She’s spoilt, rude and willing to sell out her friends, complaining rather than being a source of positive change. Sometimes I can deal with and allow annoying characters as part of their personality, but Sylvie doesn’t seem to stop being annoying from start until finish.
Rating: 2.5-3* / 65%
I nearly didn’t finish this, at multiple points, but I wanted to be sure that I was correct in my initial thoughts – some do improve greatly from a shaky start, but not in this case. It felt as though the author was trying to be relatable to a teenage audience but was unsure of the issues raised, such as by touching on divorce.
This is all, of course, just my opinion – it’s a shame that a book with a good premise turned out to not live up to my expectations. If you’re interested in astral projection, perhaps this is for you, but otherwise I wouldn’t recommend it.
EDIT 1/7/2016: I’m still balancing between 2.5* and 3*. I really can’t decide. I think 65% is a fairer percentage rating but I have very mixed feelings at the moment.
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