Show Me the Money ~ Book Review of ‘Switched’ by Amanda Hocking

Filed in Gather Writing Essential by on July 10, 2012 0 Comments

First let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way.  You may have heard of Amanda Hocking before but if not she is the first author who has made good from self publishing her novels to signing a deal worth two million with St. Martin’s Press.   She made news for selling over a million copies of her then nine self published titles by early 2011…and yes, most of these were purchased as digital downloads.  In other words, Hocking represents the dawn of a new breed of writers who come to the marketplace already primed.  However she has been a big fish in a smaller (but growing quickly) pond and the real is if she can find success in the bigger (some may even say dying) world of publishing.  Her Trylle Trilogy was originally self published but has recently been rereleased by St. Martin’s.  I bought the first book of the series, Switched, at my local Sam’s in Kansas City for under six bucks.


                Honestly, I found the story about Hocking becoming an emerging author more interesting than the tale she told in Switched.  The writing wasn’t horrible, but she didn’t demonstrate a style that was memorable.  In fact the novel would have been indistinguishable from others of the genre if the mystical paranormal creatures at the center of it weren’t trolls.  Yes, American pop culture has gone from vampires to fallen angels to werewolves and now we are grasping in the bargain basement for that next big thing that goes bump in the night.  Trolls…huh.  I wonder if the next literary phenomena will involve an eternal love story with a rugged renegade garden gnome. 


                The book did start off intriguing with a mother trying to kill her young daughter because she doesn’t believe the girl is truly her flesh and blood.  Of course Mom is sent away and with their father already dead Wendy Everly and her older brother grow up under the care of a paternal aunt.  Of course I’m making the attack sound unprovoked, by her own admission Wendy was a difficult child who through the years proves to be a challenging teenager.  She has been expelled from several schools, nothing too bad, but there has always been something.  She doesn’t get along with her peers and isn’t always the best company around her aunt or brother.  They seem to adore her but she is a hard sell for the reading audience.  It is only after she discovers she is a changeling that she becomes semi-tolerable. 


                In Hocking’s universe trolls are magical beings and a community of them live in a small town in Minnesota along the Mississippi River.  I’ll pause for a moment so you can insert your own joke.  The community is in flux and the lives of magical trolls may never be the same.  As in most cases for novels such as these, Wendy is an exceptional troll just as Bella Swan turned out to be an exceptional vampire once she was turned and the list of exceptional young adult paranormal literary heroines goes on and on.  Yet I never really felt Wendy was that special besides Hocking emphasizing that indeed she was – maybe more of her powers will be revealed in the next two books however I won’t be reading them.


                  Switched wasn’t bad, I just didn’t feel so caught up in the storyline to find out what happens next.  Hocking does end the book with a decent cliffhanger surrounding moral questions about Wendy’s position in the Everly family.  Should she tell them the truth about being a changeling and finding the brother/son/nephew who should have been raised in her place?  Will she and Finn, the troll who tracked her in the first place, be the first couple of Trollville?  Lastly, once you find out you are a princess amongst trolls can you ever truly go home again?  What if there was a troll war going about to begin, could you go home then?


                Switched has its charms for younger readers (like students in middle school) although some of the language at times is not appropriate for the age range.  St. Martin’s plans to release Hocking’s next series of books called Watersong.  If anything, it will be interesting to see where her career goes from here.


                Happy Reading!


Westerfield © 2012

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