Magical realism · review · surreal · YA

This is Shyness (This is Shyness #1) by Leanne Hall

8061032Paperback, 272 pages
Published August 2nd 2010 by Text
Source: Borrowed

A guy who howls. A girl on a mission to forget.

In the suburb of Shyness, where the sun doesn’t rise and the border crackles with a strange energy, Wolfboy meets a stranger at the Diabetic Hotel. She tells him her name is Wildgirl, and she dares him to be her guide through the endless night.

But then they are mugged by the sugar-crazed Kidds. And what plays out is moving, reckless…dangerous. There are things that can only be said in the dark. And one long night is time enough to change your life.


Imagine you walked into a Dali painting; strange, shadowy and a bit nonsensical. This is what reading This is Shyness feels like. To be honest, reviewing this normally is a bit of a problem for me because this book is so different. It’s in the same vein as Going Bovine by Libba Bray where you skate the surface of lucidity with a bit of absurdity thrown in for good measure.

WildGirl can be taken as a girl trying out (and tasting) the wild side but Wolfboy’s wolfiness is never really explored in any great detail or depth. And I’m not saying that it is necessary to go into it specifically, it is just that the effects of the eternal darkness are never discussed. How or why or any of these logistical questions remain unanswered. If you are someone who can just roll with it, it won’t bother you but if you need some logic, then you may spend the story wondering.

The book is like a slice of actual reality, a whacked out reality, but not the entire thing. It felt as though there were many more things going on than I was allowed to see and I felt a bit put out. As for the characters themselves, rather like the place the book is set in, they are slippery and shadowy and fragmented. Boy, are they fragmented. We see glimpses of them, a sudden blinding light into their psyches before darkness obscures everything once again. A bit frustrating at times.

The book is curious. Some people will enjoy it, others will roll their eyes and move on. I liked it but I think it could have done with a bit more work.


4 thoughts on “This is Shyness (This is Shyness #1) by Leanne Hall

  1. I have been wanting to read this one forever, though I think I may put it on the back burner after reading your review. I was a bit afraid this book would become a bit nonsensical, which isn’t normally my cup of tea. I DNF’ed Going Bovine for that reason. I will definitely give it a try but will keep your criticisms in mind.


  2. I’ve been meaning to give this a try. I can tell that I’ll need to be in the right mood for it though – the same way I needed to be with Going Bovine. I can’t easily abandon logic and that part of my brain that MUST know everything. Still, I’m definitely curious, so we’ll see how it goes…


    1. I would love to see your review of this once you’re done. There is a sequel too and I’m curious to see how things continue and whether anything is explained in that one.


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