Saturday, September 5, 2015

Placid Girl by Brenna Ehrlich

Punk was created for the malcontents, something that loner and aspiring drummer Hallie understands all too well. Trapped in a boring suburban life – dysfunctional parents included! – Hallie drowns her angst in the angry songs of Haze, a masked musician who has not been heard from in five years. So naturally she’s surprised – and more than a little skeptical – when someone who seems to be Haze starts flirting with her via her favorite photo-sharing app. Is he who he says he is? What does he want from her? The questions only multiply when Hallie — along with bandmate Sarah and aspiring music journalist Steve — roadtrip to Haze's comeback gig to unmask the reclusive musician once and for all.

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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

5 mysterious rocking stars, with a bit of a Pretty Little Liars feel. (FYI: I hate comparing stories. No, if you like this, you’ll love that BS. I’m just stating the heart-pound, ‘wtf is going on?’ felt similar to how PLL made me feel.)

In case anyone is curious, I’m typing this review at intervals while reading. Currently I’m at 28%.

A few weeks back, I began Placid Girl on a whim after receiving it to read for review. I got about half a page in and abandoned ship, feeling I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to deal with the description overload. (There was a TON of description. Everything was being described. The words used were amazing in small doses, but it didn’t trap me into the story.)

So when I noticed the due date was rapidly approaching… to be honest, it’s due. Today. I began again, and groaned, “Shoot! It’s that description book again. Dang it!” But I was relieved to find out that it did simmer down a bit, beginning to flow like a story instead of what the room felt like, the way people were dressed, and the emotional climate of our narrator.

Then I was hooked. By 10% I was contacting a fellow reviewer, telling her she should have buddy-read Placid Girl with me, as it was right up her alley.

Hallie, aka Placid Girl, is a drummer, song writer, and obsessive fan of Haze, even if she won’t admit she’s obsessed. At 17, the first person narration was spot-on for the emotional signature of a late teenage girl. Some would find that annoying, but I liked the sarcastic yet shy attitude she exuded.

Sarah, the best friend, she’s that best friend we all had (if you’re the introvert of the partnership). A bit vapid, hella shallow, annoying but she has your back almost as much as you have hers. The girl who has such low self-esteem, she’ll steal any boy who looks your way, simply because she needs the validation while you create your own. A small part of you pities her because she’s blind to any talent that doesn’t reside between her thighs, while the larger part of you is angry and frustrated that she doesn’t love you enough not to target you, which is why she targets you in the first place – because you’re safe and she knows you’ll love her anyway. Yeah, we all have a friend like that, sometimes more than one. Sometimes we’re that girl. Readers will complain about Sarah’s characterization, and I feel it might be because they were that half of the friendship partnership (not realizing it, of course), while the rest of us remember fondly with great frustration our own personal Sarahs that we know and love.

Hallie’s personality and the few too stupid to live actions/reactions on her part are par for the course. The reader has to remember who is narrating – a naïve child who hasn’t experienced anything in the world, and they aren’t the most rational creatures on the planet. The story is seen through the eyes of a 17 year old. So before you start saying this or that, how Hallie shouldn’t/wouldn’t/couldn’t react like that, do you know a teenage girl? Did you forget how stupid you once were? I didn’t/haven’t. I felt Hallie very authentic.

The big mystery is Haze. Haze is a band of three who are from Hallie’s hometown, all wearing masks during performances. They released one killer album, and she’s hungry for more. Two of the three have been identified, leaving the lead guitar/singer’s (aka, Haze) identity a mystery.

So, as the reader follows Hallie around in her daily life, every person she comes into contact with has us asking, “Are you Haze?” “Answer me? Are you Haze?” It’s as frustrating as it is awesome to read.

So, as of now, Hallie doesn’t know who Haze is. She’s met a blogger who does Q&A & reviews of Haze cover bands (Hallie’s band included, where he had nice things to say about Hallie and not-so nice things to say about Sarah), has a new next door neighbor, and is ‘Instagramming’ ZZZ, who may or may not be Haze. Hallie’s a busy girl right now.


Jesus, I feel like everyone is Haze…. I’ll be back. I’m going back in. Gotta find out who this dude is!!!


38%: I have my theories. I’ll let you know if I was correct when the book is finished. I love books like this because I’m a thinker, plotter, and I like to see if other writers write like I do. If their mind ticks in a similar fashion. In a way, I hope I’m wrong so that I’m surprised.


I’m back! Whew! I just finished. What a ride that was… Okay, so I was right, but that didn’t make the journey any less thrilling and nail-biting.

I have got to say I was pleasantly surprised. I started Placid Girl without reading the synopsis, going in blind, and it wasn’t anything I expected. I reaffirm my Pretty Little Liars comment from the beginning of this review. Just like reading/watching that series, there are times you have no f’n clue what the heck is going on.

Now, I don’t know if this is a standalone or not, but I’d be more than happy for a continuation. But I also won’t be disappointed if there isn’t. Sometimes leaving just a tiny thread of open-ended keeps the thrill alive.

Great book. First 5 star I’ve handed out in months (& I read A LOT) I’ll definitely be looking into this author.

Brenna Ehrlich is the founder of All Ages Press, a small press/label for weird teens (and everyone else). The co-writer of the blog and book STUFF HIPSTERS HATE, Brenna is currently a senior writer/editor for MTV News. She enjoys trying not to die in moshpits.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Placid Girl by Brenna Ehrlich to read and review.

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