Title: Snap
Author: Carol Snow
ISBN: 9780061452116
Pages: 221 pages
Publisher/Date: HarperTeen, c2010.

It wasn’t even a very good photograph.
The lighting was lame, for one thing. Midday light is never ideal, bt the problem wasn’t the overhead glare; it was the fog that choked the beach with a heavy whiteness. There were no shadows, no depth–nothing but a bleached-out deadness. […]
Finally, there was the old woman standing next to the rocks, completely ruining whatever beauty the scene had to offer. In a bathrobe and slippers, she didn’t add to the beach vibe at all. Plus, she was looking at the camera, at me, as if I’d interrupted her somehow, as if it weren’t the other way around.
No, it wasn’t a very good photograph. I would have deleted it from my camera without a thought, except for one thing.
When I took the photograph, the old woman wasn’t there. (1-2)

Madison Sabatini’s family has suddenly decided to move to Sandyland for what she thinks will be a fabulous summer vacation. Instead, she quickly discovers that Sandyland is a sleepy little beach town with nothing of any real interest. When she stumbles across a camera repair and psychic shop, Madison meets up with Leonardo (named after the turtle), his sister Delilah, and their “virtual brother” Duncan. When Madison realizes that her newly repaired camera is taking pictures of people who subsequently die, without them even being present, the mystery keeps all four busy. But Madison is realizing that’s not the only strange thing happening, with her parents and friends back home keeping secrets from her. When someone Madison cares about appears in one of her pictures, will Madison be able to come to solve the mystery before it’s too late?

I wasn’t blown away by this story. The premise was interesting, but the resolution fell flat for me. Maybe it was the psychic and mysticism introduced in the beginning that affected my impression, especially since it played a role in the twist at the end of the story. Maybe it was that twist, which felt to me that the author painted herself in a corner and had to explain away the inconsistency at the end. The reason the people are appearing in the pictures is a little more complicated than the fact that they’re dying.

It’s the characters that save this story. I actually liked Delilah slightly better than Madison because Delilah had some attitude. She’s heard the jokes and the wise cracks about her mother’s psychic/camera repair shop, and actually penalizes customers for making jokes by making them wait for their pictures. But the interaction between Duncan and Madison is what really sells this story, because Duncan is such a mystery. I picture Madison as part of the cast of One Tree Hill, and Duncan being more on the cast of… I don’t know. Joey in the TV show Friends comes to mind. Obviously their interactions are interesting to say the least, and at every interaction you find out more about Duncan and Madison gets a little less clichéd. She’s not the spoiled brat that she starts off sounding like, although it’s realistically not a total transformation by the end of the book.

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