What a strange and beautifully-written story! Very eerie & very fitting for this spooky time of the year.
❧ Writing Style - This is the first book I've read by Nina LaCour, but I can tell that she's got the haunting and lonely tone down. The imagery in Watch Over Me was so vivid, and the storytelling—especially the slow reveal of Mila's past—was superbly well-done.
❧ Characters - I can't fully put a finger on why, but I felt really distant from the characters. Even Mila—I felt like I was observing her story from a mile away. I think one of the reasons for this is that I just couldn't relate to her or the other kids, as I haven't gone through anything like the situations they have. But it was also hard to really understand and know Mila, as she's so closed off from everyone, including the reader. Most of the times, it seems like she's just going through these motions, and I just don't know what to make of her. I want to root for her—or at least, I want to *want* to root for her—but it almost felt like she didn't want me to. And while Mila's relationships with Liz and Lee were interesting, a lot of the minor characters (especially the other adopted kids) didn't seem particularly fleshed out, like they were there to just add to the total number of people on the farm. There was also a pervasive sense of ~any time, something could go terribly wrong~ throughout the whole novel, like Mila was constantly ready to run, and I think that fight-or-flight mode somehow transferred to me, so I ended up being overly suspicious of all the characters, to the point that I just couldn't connect with them. Not sure if that's on me or the writing. Also not sure if that'll make sense to anyone except me, but that's the best way I can describe how I felt for the characters (or rather, didn't feel). I did find myself getting more invested in Mila as the story went on, but most of the others were kinda just there.
❧ Story - The setup for Watch Over Me is very unique, and I can definitely see its appeal. That said, the story didn't really blow me away. I think partly due to the characters, but also because the pacing was on the slower side—the audiobook said it was only 5.5 hours long, but I swear it felt like it took me at least eight hours to listen to (and I was on 2x speed, so...)—although, yes, I do understand that the slow pacing was necessary for this story, and it did at least keep me intrigued enough. I also have sort of mixed feelings about one of the final plot points, but I did thoroughly enjoy the paranormal aspect of the novel and how it marked Mila's growth.
Overall, I think this is a 3.25 for me. Really strong & atmospheric writing, but the characters and story weren't exaaaactly my cup of tea.