Swoon

Swoon - Nina Malkin Soapbox Review to come. I told myself that I was doing very well this year without having read a single book that I thought was worth one star or less, and then I picked up this YA title from the library. It was a quick read, but my mind can't wrap around how many things are just...wrong with this story, and it includes, but isn't limited to, the graphic content.***Nina Malkin's "Swoon" takes the title of being the worst YA novel I've ever read. Not just one of the worst, but the worst novel in its particular class, if not beyond it. I rarely say that about any book because I try to give every novel a fair shot in terms of what it brings to the table. I can ascertain that it's not just because this wasn't my cup of tea. No, it goes far beyond that, because I can't, for the life of me, figure out how such a disjointed, oversexed, fantastically Mary Sue shallow novel with utterly no point to be made other than having a boorish female character fall in love with a boy ghost so horrid that it takes the definition of gender and character fail to the next level (if there are even levels to consider) would make it to publication in a genre that has far better material to offer. There are some great paranormal/urban fantasy novels to be had in the YA genre, some even involving ghost stories with wonderfully imaginative settings, developed characters, beautifully written relationship dynamics and other things that make them memorable. And even if they may not excel in some or most of those categories, there are still some paranormal novels that manage to be enjoyable reads in and of themselves.This is not one of those stories. I wish there were a silver lining to be had in Malkin's novel - something to be said in her writing voice, or something distinctive that would at least, to the author's credit, allow me to recommend her future works or ascertain her potential in other degrees. Unfortunately, nothing about "Swoon" convinced me of this - not the characterization, not the handling of the themes, not even the so called attempts at "edgy" writing. (N.B. Edgy writing does not entail throwing together explicit scenes with no rhyme or reason to them, and especially not without repercussions.)The story revolves around Dice, a seventeen year old young woman who realizes her best friend Pen is possessed by a malevolent ghost. The aforementioned ghost, Sinclair Youngblood Powers (a.k.a. Sin), seeks vengeance on a town that accused him of murder and put him to death. The premise seems intriguing, even considering the measure that Dice falls in love with the ghost knowing what a bad influence he is.From the beginning, despite my reservations about the naming of the characters, I tried to get behind the idea that Dice calls her friends and companions by abbreviated names. I had no problem with that in theory, though I'll admit it made it harder to connect with the characters trying to remember who was who. The only characters that I consistently followed without referral were Dice and Pen, and of course, Sin. Sin I remembered because of his oh-so-obvious naming. And the author proceeds to tell us so:"As it turned out, Sinclair adopted a tidy truncation too. Can you guess? I’ll give you a hint: It wasn’t Clair." Authorial intrusion much? This isn't the only instance, but it was one of the ones that stood out to me. I think it might've been intended as a joke or something of a "cute" statement, but then again, the humor in the progression of this was awkward collectively speaking. I cringed when I read something akin to the character's smile being incorporated with a statement about a brillo pad, and a statement that her hair "had to look like Helen Keller styled it" after a particularly blunt scene. And don't get me started on the attempts at ghetto speak. Another thing, I can understand an author taking a medical condition and crafting it in a way that ties in with either mystic or paranormal inclinations, that's fine, many authors have done this in inventive ways. But I don't know if I was all that convinced of Dice's particular diagnosis with epilepsy because it didn't ever feel like it was tangible or handled well enough to make me empathize with the character. I felt like I was told more about them than shown. It was less intimate to the character, more generic. And even with that, I think there were several moments when I actually forgot that Dice had a psychic ability, so I don't even think that was tied into the progressive plot well.I suppose that should lead me into how loose/disjointed of a plot this book really had. Chapters end incongruously and on awkward transitions, and while Dice isn't a perfect character, she makes insufferable decisions which make no sense (and the supporting cast isn't much better.) While the plot does deliver some of its basic promises (establishing a character that falls in love with a very bad ghost), the way it's told is largely disjointed and the characters never fully come to fruition. They're cardboards that engage in all kinds of deviant behavior without due repercussions, so it makes it hard to find what message Malkin intended to send in this novel, if there were such a message at all.Even those considerations didn't make my blood boil as much as when I considered some of the more disturbing parts of this novel. I suppose it boils down, primarily, to the amount of drug use and sex (some of which border to rape or near-rape). When you have a scene with the love interest of the novel commands other characters to pull down the female lead's pants and spank her to elicit a sexual reaction from her….I think that speaks for itself as far as a line being crossed. I don't think Malkin considered her audience very well, and it's painfully clear that those scenes had no purpose in and of themselves except to be - for lack of a better term - "shocking." This is too much for anyone under 18 years of age and it should not be considered YA. While the novel concludes in a stand alone format, I had no investment to continue reading in this particular universe.Suffice to say, I will not be reading the sequel (the fact that this even had a sequel baffles me). And I would not recommend this work to those I know. Save your time and hard earned money for a book that has better contributions.As far as whether I'll read another work by this author, I'm still grappling on that decision.