I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.CONVERSION by Katherine Howe
Published by Penguin Audio on 7/1/2014
Genres: Mystery, Young Adult
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It’s senior year at St. Joan’s Academy, and school is a pressure cooker. College applications, the battle for valedictorian, deciphering boys’ texts: Through it all, Colleen Rowley and her friends are expected to keep it together. Until they can’t.\r\n\r\nFirst it’s the school’s queen bee, Clara Rutherford, who suddenly falls into uncontrollable tics in the middle of class. Her mystery illness quickly spreads to her closest clique of friends, then more students and symptoms follow: seizures, hair loss, violent coughing fits. St. Joan’s buzzes with rumor; rumor blossoms into full-blown panic.\r\n\r\nSoon the media descends on Danvers, Massachusetts, as everyone scrambles to find something, or someone, to blame. Pollution? Stress? Or are the girls faking? Only Colleen—who’s been reading The Crucible for extra credit—comes to realize what nobody else has: Danvers was once Salem Village, where another group of girls suffered from a similarly bizarre epidemic three centuries ago . . .\r\n\r\nInspired by true events—from seventeenth-century colonial life to the halls of a modern-day high school—Conversion casts a spell. With her signature wit and passion, New York Times bestselling author Katherine Howe delivers an exciting and suspenseful novel, a chilling mystery that raises the question, what’s really happening to the girls at St. Joan’s?
Conversion by Katherine Howe should be a love it or hate it kind of book. But I don’t know, I just felt a little indifferent about it.\n\nThis unusual illness has taken over St. Joan’s Academy, an elite school for girls in Massachusetts. Mostly the wealthy go there, but there are scholarship kids, too, and none of them is a slacker. Dreams of Harvard, Yale, and other Ivy Leagues plague their thoughts as they compete with one another for the most prestigious honors among their class, as well as placement within their chosen undergrads. When a mysterious illness begins felling all of her peers, Colleen starts to believe there are other forces at play, and struggles fruitlessly to get anyone to believe her.\n\nConversion could have been a stellar novel. It had all the ingredients for it, but I think it just tried to be too many things. One part mystery (what is the illness?), one part paranormal (unexplained activities and links to witchcraft) with a dash of romance and contemporary YA, too, it wasn’t sure what it wanted to be. Conversion is told in two – no, three – parts: Modern day with Colleen as the narrator; 17th century “then” colonial life with Sarah as the narrator; and 17th century “now” colonial life as told by Sarah. Because this audiobook was narrated by Khristine Hvam, it was very easy to decipher Colleen from Sarah; but it was not easy to decipher Sarah “then” from Sarah “now”. It only became evident much later in the story that she was re-capping what had happened to thrust Salem Village into the witch trials.\n\nI did enjoy the mystery of the book, and I had my suspicions as to what was causing the illness. However a lot of the plot was a bit too drawn out for me and I wish it had been condensed. I can’t say that I hated the colonial chapters, but I didn’t love them either, because I sort of had a clue what the outcome would be and it meant there was little suspense. Of course that means there was no suspense in the book period, because St. Joan’s was mimicking the past.\n\nI did like that Conversion explored mass hysteria and some of the affects of that, and I also liked all the chapters with the actual witch trials in them.\n\nOverall, some people will really love Conversion, and some people will hate it. I’m glad I listened to it, because it was entertaining, but I was not wowed.\n\n