Initial Thoughts: I’m almost halfway through this re-read and it’s time for some revelations. I need to get the wheels spinning. I need an ending to this series! But first, Roman and Bryn must fall in love. I love when they do that…
*Bryn’s relationship with her uncle mirrors my own relationship with my adoptive father. I spent a lot of time trying to pay homage to all of those non traditional families out there who prove that unconditional love can exist outside the bounds of biology. Bryn’s family–her mother, uncle, grandmother, cousin, and aunt–play a huge role in her development as a character and I really tried to make those bonds strong, especially since, at the time, my own family was struggling to stick together. After my father passed away when I was eighteen my mother and I were isolated from everyone and family members who I’d been so close to growing up, just stopped coming around. It was a very strange time in my life and my lack of a family unit really influenced my portrayal of Bryn’s family. They’re definitely not perfect. They argue and unintentionally damage each other emotionally but they love each other and are there for each other no matter what.
*When I first decided on the dynamics of Bryn and her father’s relationship I had no intention of incorporating him into the paranormal aspects of the plot. It was another attempt at grounding her in the real world and building a genuine backstory to support certain aspects of her character. In book 2 I got the idea of having him know something about Bryn’s abilities and/or the danger she’s in but I still wasn’t sure if I wanted to redeem him that way. Sometimes as a writer you make choices based on what you think is best for the character or what you think is best for the story. And sometimes you write what you need to read.
*Writing to inspire fear is one of the most difficult things to do. I feel pretty confident in my ability to make the reader sad or even angry but I can’t tell you how many times I re-wrote those scenes where Bryn or Roman face the shadows. In earlier drafts I spent 2-3 pages just fleshing out the mood and building up the creep-factor before finally diving into the action. Now, I understand that rhythm is everything when writing horror and that creating fear in the reader is all about what information you leave out as opposed to what you put in. It’s especially difficult when you have to transcribe a feeling or experience that is only (or seems to be) happening in the MC’s head. Roman’s solo explorations in Bryn’s dream-state allowed for some seriously creepy scenes and after cutting certain encounters from 3 pages to just a few paragraphs, creating a rhythm with his internal thoughts, and altering the pacing I think I definitely achieved something scary.
*One of my main goals for re-reading the TGIB series is to guide me as I tie up loose ends in the big finale. I know a lot of people have struggled with the open-endings of the past three novels and are eagerly awaiting some definitive answers and just a sense of closure to the whole story. Believe it or not but creating cliffhanger endings was never calculated. I always just tried to end things with a sense of momentum to carry people onto the next books. Plus, my brain tends to think in a very episodic way, meaning that I saw Bryn’s story as this massive tale to be broken up into smaller parts, not necessarily that each book was its own individual story. As I’m reading TGIB I’m pulling out all of these great lines and scenes that I want to mirror in the final book, like this one from the scene when Roman is reading Bryn’s diary:
I’ve been daydreaming about the end of this story for more than a year now and I’ve yet to decide on anything. As of now I don’t know what’s going to happen to Bryn or Roman. I don’t know if the story will have a happy ending. But I trust that I will find the answers to all of our questions in the pages I’ve already written. I trust that I’ve left plenty of clues for myself and now all I have to do is find them.
*I’m surprised that none of the negative reviews for TGIB have even mentioned Bryn’s dislike of Bob Dylan
*I can’t be the only writer who’s been through that phase where you think romance can only happen under a night sky full of stars. I’ll be honest, I definitely have an obsession with all things astronomy. But how can you not when “we’re all made of star stuff.”
*Chapter 14 is also one of my favorites. I knew going into this story that light vs. dark is basically the premise of every novel that ever was but there’s a reason for that–because it’s real and because it works. It took two books for me to finalize Roman’s super powers but in the end it was very simple. The shadows are every tortuous, soul-sucking, self-loathing belief Roman has ever held about himself and the light Bryn ignites in him is love–not just for her but for himself.
*Now that it’s been almost a decade since I was in a “relationship” similar to Bryn and Drew’s it’s definitely difficult for me to read her internal dialogue. I just want to shake her because some of her thoughts and actions totally contradict her character. But then again, that is exactly what toxic relationships do to people. They turn you into someone you’re not and force you to compromise on and contradict everything you think you believe is right.
*To all my future students, yes, you can expect Bryn and Dani’s kite project to be on the syllabus.
*And, no, you will not be able to sneak out of class to discuss premarital sex in the girl’s bathroom.
*I’m glad that there are so many romantic relationships depicted in the series. There’s Bryn’s toxic relationship with Drew, her soul mate relationship with Roman, Dani’s various relationships with guys not worth her time, and her strong connection to Felix, which is based on so much trust and respect (on his part). I also love Felix’s platonic friendship with Bryn, which isn’t depicted enough in YA.
*I feel like some novels make out the male lead to be some kind of lone hero who is the only symbol of good among a sea of negatively depicted male characters. Not only does this perpetuate an unattainable standard for all men but it insinuates that the good ones are few and far between. There can be more than one hero in a story, and in fact, there should be more attention paid to the courageous humans, like Felix, who are fighting their own battle between good and evil every day. And who are good boyfriends. And good friends. And just good people in general, despite not having super powers or being as ridiculously good-looking as their paranormal counterparts.