The Appearance of Annie Van Sinderen | Thoughts
I'm slightly baffled by this book and the lack of conclusion we're given. I was instantly drawn into the mystery of the "girl in the camera," and for the most part the pages turned themselves. Somewhere around three quarters of the way through, though, the story lost momentum, mainly because this is when the reveals and plot explanations are due to occur, and Howe couldn't deliver on the juicy mysteries she was spinning from the start.
Now, I did for the most part enjoy the story. I enjoyed getting Annie's POV, experiencing her confusion and sadness as she tries to come to terms with her situation. I preferred Wes' POV, and I suppose it depends on your experience with guys and different ways groups and friends interact, but I found the dialogue and interactions between Wes and Tyler and Wes and Eastlin pretty believable, right down to the laugh-offs and teasing. The story follows Wes as he navigates NYC during the summer for a class at NYU, and Annie as she discovers the truth about her new existence. As a film student creating a documentary, Wes is described as a person who is actually looking, which is why he is able to see Annie when most others can't. This is about as much explanation we receive in regards to Wes and Annie's situation, and is about where the logic starts to fall apart.
We're given the mysterious build up - Wes is inexplicably drawn to both Annie and a (living) girl, Maddie, and it's easy to guess the connection there. But why is he drawn to Annie? Aside from her perfect little bow lips and deep, dark eyes, why exactly does he feel this physical and soul-touching pull towards her?
Annie is missing her cameo (a ring), and it is of the utmost importance she find it, as well as the truth of what happened to her and her family two hundred years ago. Maddie is thrown in there, and while believable that Wes would be trying to hook up with both girls, I was waiting for the exploration of what drew him to Annie - some otherworldly, time-crossing connection that obligated him to help her find what she's lost.
I'll just start listing the questions I have that were left unanswered:
-Why does Annie suddenly appear in the year 2015? What drew her to that time, marked it as the moment she needed to complete her unfinished business?
-What, exactly, was her unfinished business? Finding the cameo? Finding out what happened to her family? Changing what happened to her family?
-Why the hell are she and Wes kissing one another, when he is clearly intent on Maddie and Annie's search is for a cameo given to her by what we can assume is her fiance? Again, no supernatural, soul-connection reasoning here, just hey, we're attracted to one another, let's make out!
The most confusing for me is the end. I suppose we are to assume Annie changes the outcome of the barge fire - originally, her family perished with her on the boat, but this time around she has been able to keep them off. So what, exactly, does this change in the future? Her brother still ended up with the cameo, though Maddie's family clearly no longer has Rockefeller status in NYC. But Maddie is still into her "fregan" club, which makes no sense as I got the impression she was only into squatting and dumpster diving to protest the lifestyle of her overly wealthy family. And Wes - he was originally one of the only people able to see Annie, and was able to record her several times for his documentary, in which everyone he showed was also able to see her. Yet when they played the video, all the scenes of her are suddenly empty, as if she was never there. This is fine...except it's not clear if Wes, too, has completely forgotten Annie. The epilogue was absolutely no help, rather creating more fallacies.
*sigh* I could go on as there are just SO. MANY. HOLES. in this plot. But I'll stop there.
If you are content just being along for a ride, where there's some ghostly love, some real love, odd connections and sudden memory wipes, Appearance could be for you. I however, need my tales to make a bit more sense, and give me all the logical details of the whys, whats, wheres, and hows.