Review: Legacy by Molly Cochran

Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Title: Legacy
Author: Molly Cochran
Genre: young-adult, supernatural fiction
Series: N/A, though with possibility of sequels
Pages: 432 (Nook ARC, courtesy of publishers)
Published: December 2011
Rating: 2.5/5

When her widowed father dumps 16-year-old Katy Jessevar in a boarding school in Whitfield, Massachusetts, she has no idea that fate has just opened the door to both her future and her past. Nearly everyone in Whitfield is a witch, as is Katy herself, although she has struggled all her life to hide her unusual talents. Stuck at a boarding school where her fellow studens seem to despise her, Katy soon discovers that Whitfield is the place where her mother commited suicide under mysterious circumstances when Katy was just a small child. With dark forces converging on Whitfield, it’s up to Katy to unravel her family’s many secrets to save the boy she loves and the town itself from destruction.

Legacy is sadly one of those books I wanted to like more than I actually liked in the end. Legacy can be, and very often is, dry, slightly boring and stilted in its execution. With so much of the novel reminiscent of other novels like the boarding school a la Harry Potter, Strange Angels, Vampire Academy, Hex Hall, etc., or the two love interests that have to be kept apart for someone's safety a la Twilight, The Clann or really almost every vampire young-adult novel ever, it is quite hard for Legacy to make a unique impression that is entirely its own. It's a sad echo of more action-filled and invigorating reads that populate this kind of novel. Though it merits only a 2.5 out of 5 stars for me, I did manage find some worthwhile aspects to this long young-adult novel about witches and evil in New England. I wish that there was more to recommend this supernatural tale from a veteran author, but I was disappointed and bored by this read. It was one of those books you finish out of endurance, rather than a genuine desire to conclude the story.

Serenity Katherine "Katy" Jessup Ainsworth is, like many teen protagonist in the paranormal YA genre, isolated, lonely, abandoned in a strange place and possessing strange powers that shouldn't exist. There's sadly not much to distinguish Katy from her peers of the genre. She's sadly cliched in many of her personality/abilities, and fails to truly connect with the reader. There's also so many pointed remarks about her "creepy" or "snake" eyes but no real reason is provided for entirely too long, so every ensuing remark drove me batty. Added to her already full closet of cliches and tropes is her Mysterious Dead Mom - another easy plot structure that Legacy falls prey to. I was supposed to feel for Katy, as she was just abandoned by her unfeeling, remote father 1500 miles from her Floridian home, but I just.. didn't. Her isolation and loneliness are extreme and I didn't buy into the student body's treatment of her, both pre- and post-Peter. I wasn't a fan of how her relationship with love interest Peter matured either: there were far too many rapid-fire shifts in emotion and status between the two of them to be believable.

Legacy is quite slow-moving for the bulk of the narrative. Not much happens in the small town of Whitfield, nor in Ainsworth School besides teenage hazing and Katy's pining for a boy she hardly knows. I wish that Legacy had been less predictable: the easy-to guess plot twists combined with the slower pace for the non-events did not do the story any favors. I found the romance of Peter and Katy to be pedantic and predictable as well: from this initial hatred to her unfounded fascination with him, I called it all. I absolutely hated the presentation of the student body within the boarding school: even the non-magical (the "cowen" in this novel's particular vernacular) are ridiculously and stupidly bigoted against Katy from the day of her arrival. Yes, the outcast role in a novel is popular because so many of today's teens can relate and identify closely with just such a character, but it was just ridiculously overdone here. These kids really were like cows: they hate Katy when Peter does and love her when he abruptly switches to the other side and loves her. 

Peter, let's talk about Peter. Peter is from the first time he appears on the page, a jerk. For no reason the reader - or Katy - knows of, Peter is an incredible asshole. Katy's instant - and to my mind unreasonable - attraction and interest in this boy is sadly indicative of her self-esteem and self-worth. For nothing more than her name, Peter judges her and finds her guilty of a sin her mother committed, decades before. Not that he bothers to inform Katy the reason for his great anipathy: no he lets her stew and wonder instead. I disliked their dynamic from the get-go, and hated to read Katy's unreasoned favorable thoughts on the pain. Once the inevitable shift comes, as I knew it must, it was lightning fast. His switch from "asshole" to "boyfriend" is just too quick to be organic. I also wish Katy had had the balls to call him on all his shenanigans and his earlier assumptions about her. Seriously, she says to him: "However you want me, I'll take it." However, no dice. The two goofy teens settle into a superficial and vacuous relationship built on mostly hormones.

Reading Legacy is like an emotional roller-coaster, though not necessarily a fun one. Emotions and reactions are all over the place and so abruptly and constantly changing, it's just a lot to take in, all the time. With a generic male lead, a cliched romantic plotline and other elements so reminiscent of earlier novels, Legacy ultimately fails to make much of an impact. The few pieces of the whole I did find unique and original were sadly less developed than their prevalent, weaker counterparts: Katy's powers of psychometry (?), the Darkness itself and how it caused such things like the Black Death, the Great Depression, the influenze outbreak of 1918, etc. The antagonist/force-of-evil was too vaguely outlined and explained to feel like a real menace or cause enough tension to make this a faster, more engrossing read. Too much was glossed over in favor of the drama of teenage relationships. While Legacy definitely alludes to a possible future sequel, it is highly unlikely I will pursue any more novels from this author about these characters.

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