Author: Hannah Moskowitz
Published: January 1st 2013
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Be careful what you believe in.
Rudy’s life is flipped upside-down when his family moves to a remote island in a last attempt to save his sick younger brother. With nothing to do but worry, Rudy sinks deeper and deeper into loneliness and lies awake at night listening to the screams of the ocean beneath his family’s rickety house.
Then he meets Diana, who makes him wonder what he even knows about love, and Teeth, who makes him question what he knows about anything. Rudy can’t remember the last time he felt so connected to someone, but being friends with Teeth is more than a little bit complicated. He soon learns that Teeth has terrible secrets. Violent secrets. Secrets that will force Rudy to choose between his own happiness and his brother’s life.
I am really conflicted when it comes to this book. I really like a lot of aspects of it, and then there are a few things that just drive me absolutely crazy about it. I’m going to start with the things that I did like about it. I really love the character of Rudy and how he changes through the novel. He cares so deeply for his little brother, and the sacrifice that comes with caring for a sick relative really shines through–as does the guilt of wanting to have some sort of life outside of being a caretaker. His interactions with the other characters is amazing. I love the slow burn between him and Diana and how their relationship changes, becomes something that neither of them are ready for. Despite that I think the real ‘relationship’ is between him and Teeth. What he does for Teeth in the last third of the book and how he helps him speaks so much about the way Rudy operates and the base intentions of his actions.
Speaking of, Teeth is a really interesting character. I haven’t come across anything quite like him in the books I’ve read. I guessed his origin pretty quickly, though how he came to be is quite possibly one of the weirdest conception stories in the world. I love the friendship that they build and I felt for the little one-sided romantic feelings that Teeth had toward Rudy. I think that he and Rudy play similar roles: misunderstood, protector, wanting more for themselves. Unfortunately things don’t always work out nicely. Teeth suffers in this book and there are some rather disturbing ideas (though never explicitly shown, there is mention of rape and forced oral sex). Which brings me to one of the major things I had a problem with.
I don’t like non-consensual sex as a plot device. And while it’s not explicitly shown, it’s implied through dialogue and some imagery between Teeth and a couple of the fishermen. I don’t know where it fits in, and I think the story would have been just the same without the sexual violence. I also feel that the book could have been longer. I want to know more about the world, the island and why certain things work the way that they do.