Sliding Beneath the Surface was one of those books that was super hard to review. There are so many mixed feelings I have about it but ultimately I think it's a great story that needs a bit more work.
The story features a bit of everything: romance, time travel, ghosts, shamans, OBE, history, and more. There's a lot being set up and it's no wonder the entire book takes place in about a day. It's a very busy day though and there is honestly so many paranormal experiences that I was left reeling and confused- about the same way as the main character, Jeff. I couldn't get a clear picture of some events because often, Jeff told the reader he couldn't understand how to begin to describe them. That's okay though- I followed the overall plot.
Jeffrey Golden was our MC. He's the kind of smart, manipulative guy that doesn't say much in class. He's friends with Carla, a girl he obviously has feelings for. Carla is a feisty history buff and she is not afraid to argue. Neither is Jeff, with his fast temper. The next most important character is Lobo, Carla's infuriating shaman neighbor who may be the only one that can help Jeff. Lobo is that character who is kind of mean, but obviously wise and good at heart albeit his tough exterior. I didn't overly connect with the characters but I did appreciate how unique each character was. I loved that they all had different ethnicities. We need more of that in YA.
The thing that threw me off about this book was the writing- mainly Jeff's POV.
It was written in third person and like Jeff was recounting it to the reader. That's a unique style, but what didn't work for me was the constant mentions to the reader. There were often questions (of the rhetorical kind) or simply a "you know" at the end of the sentence. This is very strong character voice which is usually good but it wasn't good for my personal reading experience because I'd often stop reading the story because I'd be focusing so much on the words. A perfect book would have writing that is beautiful but fades into the background so that you can picture everything that is happening. This is something that really affects my reading, though I'm not sure how much of an impact it will have on others. I've seen other people have no problem with the writing so it may be a me-thing.
The two other things about the writing I noticed was that there was a lot of telling, especially in the beginning. A bit more showing would have been more fun. Also, I did notice there were some small errors in the book, things like missing/extra apostrophes, missing words, little errors like that. They didn't hugely impact my reading but they kind of made me think that this novel needs a bit more work. I'm not sure if they'll be later edited or something.
All in all, Sliding Beneath the Surface demonstrates great ideas and is completely different from mainstream YA. I think that it needs a bit more work though to let the gem of a story shine through. This is just my personal opinion though. I have no clue what to give this book for a star rating. There were aspects done really well, and there were other parts I didn't care for as much. 3 stars seems the most right though, since I liked the book.