To begin with, the characters are largely, flatly drawn and their dialogue was uniform and indistinguishable between characters. After a couple of chapters, I created a list of names and commonly-used descriptors of the characters in order to keep them straight. I found myself thinking things like: “Is Bea Cara’s witchy friend or is that Alice?” “What’s Cara’s mother name again?” “Who’s Elsie?” If this was a history of the Ottoman Empire, it would be a necessity to keep all the players and alliances straight, but in a small town in Ireland, this shouldn’t be the case. To me, they were portrayed as one hive mind and people. I couldn’t tell them apart in the beginning, nor in the end.
In addition to their indistinguishable characteristics, the characters also don’t seem to be drawn in a way where they would be relatable to teens. This is contemporary YA, so there are cell phones, the kids are in a public high school. They seem to live in Middle Class homes, but these kids are the definition of trite. They drink alcohol out of jam jars. They decide to throw a Halloween Party called the Black Cat and Whiskey Moon Masquerade Ball in an abandoned mansion. They sound more like Pintrest-obsessed moms than high-schoolers.
The “love” stories pose a real issue for me. I can’t really get into any of them without spoiling, but my general thoughts are that if an author thinks that anything nearing incest (I’m also looking at you, too, Cassandra Clare!) could be a love story, avoid it. It’s gross to read no matter how you play it and it negates any joy the romance may create in the novel.
Let’s take a moment to reflect on an important topic: abuse. If you are going to this important and touch subject into your book, it shouldn’t be a side story that no character can barely be bothered with. Why bring up such an important topic only to sweep it under the rug in the end? This is a topic teens probably don’t get exposed to much and the author has a responsibility to see the topic through to its conclusion. Fowley-Doyle really failed on this front.
One of the main themes of the story is secrets and how they affect your relationships with your family, friends and the outside world. The story is told with snippets of past memories drawn in, as the bigger secrets are revealed throughout the story. The problem is that there were so many secrets and reveals that it was difficult for me to put the story into context. Every time I thought that a character’s motivation might be for reason “A”, there ended up being a reason “B.” With so many twists and turns, I felt like I was on a roller coaster ride and couldn’t fully wrap my head around the impact of the accident season on this family and their extended group of friends.
With a book that offered so much initially, accidents, secrets, magical realism, poetic writing, I had high hopes for The Accident Season. However, it ultimately lacked a substance that I generally appreciate in YA. None of the characters, themes or stories woven in this novel held my interest, and I believe the author thought I might be superficial enough to be intrigued by a character’s hair color, witchiness or penchance for tarot card reading alone. While those are all great character traits, I don’t like being sold short. This first novel doesn’t instill hope in Fowley-Doyle, but I do love to be proven wrong.