Saturday, October 4, 2014

Conversion, by Katherine Howe

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Synopsis:  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.

First 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.

Soon 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.

Inspired 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, 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?

Thoughts:  I was looking forward to listening to this book, based on its synopsis. Unfortunately, it didn't quite live up to my expectations. 

The idea of intertwining the past and the present was a good one...but the mostly factual story of the Salem Witch Trials was much more interesting than the fictional story of the "mystery illness" afflicting the girls of St. Joan's School. 

And the eventual reason revealed for the illness....and the way it was solved? WAY too predictable for me. I'm definitely going to be more discerning in my choice of YA reading in the future.

My rating: Three stars

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