Friday, January 3, 2014

Review: The Deception of Tara Magee - Kathy J. Scott

A copy was provided by the Author
in exchange for
an honest review.
The Deception of Tara Magee by Kathy J. Scott
Series: Tara Magee #1
Genre: Middle Grade, mystery
Published on July 11, 2013
Published by Little Becky Press
Pages: 260
Read From: 12.22.13 - 12.27.13

The Deception of Tara Magee is the first in a series of five books. Book One is about a 14-year-old girl named Tara Magee from the East Coast who finds herself on the West Coast and she has no idea how she got there. 
Tara meets a boy named Billy who has a sister Amanda who is missing. 
Tara and Billy try to solve the mysteries of where Amanda went and how Tara ended up so far away from home. Tara also meets an older boy and becomes totally infatuated. 
The mystery deepens and the plot thickens. By the end of the book you will want to read the rest of the series.


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? Not a big fan of the cover art. It lacks color and is a little too pencil-y and 2-D.

Characters: I can't say that I connected to any of the characters; not even a little bit. Tara, Billy, and Danny were all pretty one-dimensional and forgettable. I in fact kept getting Billy and Danny confused, partly because their names are so similar, and about all Tara did was cry and talk about her curly red hair. Billy's parents, who later become rather important to the plot, are practically non-existent in the book. They're mentioned, but rarely does the Reader get to actually meet them and assess their personalities.

The Romance: Talk about a bloody fast infatuation! Tara barely glimpses Danny before she's head-over-heels for him, and he for her. In less than twenty-four hours, Tara is behaving as if they've have this hugely deep and years-old relationship and that Danny should suddenly feel loyalty to only her and is somehow betraying this special trust if he so much as glances at another girl. Tara's jealousy is pretty short lived, thankfully, and the romance doesn't take up much of the plot. But it definitely could have used a lot more development.

Plot: When Tara Magee wakes up after going to bed one night with an upset stomach, it's to find herself in the middle of a field of daisies, a nasty bump on her head and absolutely no recollection of how she got there. After making her way to some seaside homes, she's mistaken for another girl who looks exactly like her. Tara successfully convinces this girl's little brother, Billy, that she isn't his sister Amanda, and together, they try and find out what happened to Amanda, how Tara got there in the first place, and why the two girls look so much alike. Okay, the premise is amazing; it had so much potential! Which just kills me, because the execution ruins it. A great initial setup that totally draws the Reader in, and then kaput. The story swiftly dissolves into Tara sitting down for lunch, getting ready for bed, sleeping, getting up and showering, eating some more, poking around the beach and doing odd jobs, jumping between wanting to go home and wanting to help Billy find Amanda, more eating, and going back to sleep. Oh yes, and crying in between. I have never encountered so much sleeping in a book before! I was really frustrated with the pace, which is about as fast as a snail. I wanted something to happen! But instead I got incredibly bored and then slightly irked, because as I said earlier, the initial concept is very good indeed.

Believability: I do question Tara's reaction to being mistaken for another girl. She doesn't do much to try and convince Billy's parents that no, she isn't their daughter, and she doesn't wig out nearly as much as one would think a fourteen-year-old girl would. I said she cries a lot, but it's not the sort of crying that someone at that age in this sort of situation would indulge in. Once she convinces Billy that she's not Amanda, she falls into the role pretty easily and seems to rather enjoy wearing Amanda's clothes, eating lunch, and doing odd jobs around the area.

Writing Style: First person, past tense. The style is blocky and lacks any real emotion. There's a lot of bits like this (and this isn't pulled from the book; this is just an example made up on the spot): "We should check the beach," said Danny. "All right," I said. "I'll go get my blue flipflops, so my feet don't get wet." "Good idea," said Danny. There's tons of unnecessary explanation behind why characters bring along an item, and someone is always telling another character that they should grab that because this might happen. The Author also uses a lot of repeat words in the same paragraph, making for very repetitive and clunky reading. And while the editing is certainly better than in some self-published novels, there were a lot of typos and grammatical errors.

Content: None.

Conclusion: Oh, I wish I could say that the climax made up for the snail's pace of the rest of the book, and that I was suddenly eager to pick up Book #2. But it doesn't. When Tara overhears a conversation that makes her suddenly suspect not only Billy's parents being involved in her disappearance, but her own parents as well, Tara decides to run away, taking Billy and Danny with her. I have to first question Tara's quick readiness to distrust her parents - people she has known and trusted all of her fourteen years. It's not like the conversation she overhears is very conclusive evidence. The climax drags just as much as the rest of the book. At first it looks like something interesting is going to happen, but it dissolves once more into showering, sleeping, and eating. I felt such a sense of dread at the thought of reading Book #2 that I made the decision of not doing it. I just can't read through another book like this one. It makes me very sad to have to write such things; the concept was such a good one. But the execution wasn't.

Recommended Audience: Intended age range is Middle Grade. But quite honestly, I think it's way too slow for that age.

Others in the Tara Magee Series:
1)The Deception of Tara Magee
2)Seeing Double


  1. Good Review! Looks like one to avoid either as a reader or as a reviewer - thanks Hedgie!


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