Sixteen-year-old Whisper, who has a cleft palate, lives in an encampment with three other young rejects and their caregiver, Nathanael. They are outcasts from a society (in the not-too-distant future) that kills or abandons anyone with a physical or mental disability. Whisper’s mother visits once a year. When she dies, she leaves Whisper a violin, which Nathanael teaches her to play. Whisper’s father comes to claim her, and she becomes his house slave, her disfigurement hidden by a black veil. But when she proves rebellious, she is taken to the city to live with other rejects at a house called Purgatory Palace, where she has to make difficult decisions for herself and for her vulnerable friends.
“I would be strong. I would be more than this place wanted me to be.”
The thing that I most admired about WHISPER was Whisper herself. She’s incredibly different from all other YA heroines I’ve ever come across. As I got through WHISPER I saw that as a good and a bad thing. Even though she’s looked as a monstrosity, she never bows down and her quiet determination is something that was new to me. There was nothing especially loud or boisterous about her, and her desire to deal with the situations she was thrown into was amazing.
I had a few reservations about this book. Not everyone will like it. It’s slow to start and slow to end, the pacing going along at a crawl almost. There’s something that made me keep on going though, and it was well worth it. I love the end of the story, everything coming together at once. I was disappointed with the back story to the world and how it came to be the way that it was. I mean–there are things that say here and there that there was an epidemic where kids were born with birth defects–but kids are born with birth defects now. There are people such as that described in WHISPER now, and there are organizations and people everywhere working to help those people. What happened to the organizations and all the people that care? That didn’t make sense to me, and that was my biggest hold out on WHISPER.
Overall though, I really enjoyed this debut. I think it brought a lot of unique concepts and things to think about to mind, and there were so many heartwarming moments where Whisper triumphed over the injustices done to her. The “bad guys” to this story were well portrayed and pulled off. I love the relationships she makes and the people she meets, the plot connecting each person to each other and showing that there are good people even in the midst of evil. Even though this story had it’s dry patches, I loved reading WHISPER. 3.5 stars.
An ARC copy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
pg count for the hardback: 230
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