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Wide Open

Wide Open - Deborah Coates When I was invited to participate in the blog tour for Deborah Coates’ debut WIDE OPEN, I didn’t know what to expect. I hadn’t heard much (anything) about this book before I received the synopsis in my email. Well, it called to me and told me, “Read this book!” The plot, the setting, the ideas – the synopsis is really good in so many ways. I heartily accepted Tor’s offer and received my copy of WIDE OPEN and dove in.WIDE OPEN is the story of young soldier Hallie, a South Dakota native who has come home on bereavement leave after the death of her sister Dell. The police think Dell committed suicide, but Hallie disagrees. The fact that she sees her sister’s ghost – among others – just makes her that much more desperate to investigate what really happened to her sister. What she finds out is something that involves ancient powers, disappearances, and a company with sinister intentions. Along with sheriff’s deputy Boyd, Hallie ends up being the only person who can stop things before they hurt more people.I admit, I am somewhat conflicted about this story. I think the biggest problem I had was with the main character, Hallie. She was almost insufferable. Not only is she rude and brash to the people in her life, but she keeps everyone – including the reader – away, keeping her arms crossed and her mind closed. Likewise, I think the characterization in the story was somewhat off, comprising multiple characters that seemed only like a semblance of a person. Even Boyd seemed slightly off. But Hallie was by far the worst character, and the one that almost prevented me from getting into the story.But the story… The plot is great, the setting is amazing, and the author’s vivid description of the South Dakota prairies is thrilling. I might want to vacation there now! Mount Rushmore, that place they mentioned in Jurassic Park… Even though there were some clunky sentences that could use refinement (trust me, Deborah Coates has a great future ahead of her with her writing style), the book’s prose was tight and clean. The contemporary setting with family drama mixed with mystery and fantastical elements was such a wonderful change from the explicitly paranormal or explicitly contemporary. Being used to having one or the other, never both, I really enjoyed the way Coates’ mixed them into a compelling story.Once you get past a slow build and unraveling of the story, the ending is thrilling and worth the wait. WIDE OPEN is not a novel for everyone, but if you can get into the story and past the prickly character, this is definitely a novel full of intrigue and excitement that you’ll want to pick up.VERDICT: Although beleaguered by a nasty protagonist, WIDE OPEN is a book with great writing, unique setting, and wonderful details. Check this one out!