Gena Showalter's Intertwined has a fascinating premise: Aden, the main character, has four other souls living within his head whom he constantly hears. Each soul has a special "gift", such as time traveling or raising the dead, but it's Aden's habit of conversing aloud with the souls that has landed him in mental facilities and foster homes since the age of three. Needless to say, it's been almost impossible for Aden to make friends, and the fact that he knows exactly how he will die (thanks to one of the souls) doesn't help his situation. Until he moves to the D and M Ranch for troubled boys and receives a vision of a beautiful girl who will become his love interest; suddenly Aden is eager to find out if the girl he sees briefly is the mystery girl and he gets himself enrolled in the local school in order to find out. Only Mary Ann is not the girl, though she does become a friend. Instead, the beautiful vampire Victoria reveals herself to Aden, accusing him of "calling" her into his life. Thus begins a relationship that finds Aden battling the undead, the school bully, a bunkmate, a werewolf, and assorted other paranormal creatures as he searches for a way to set the souls trapped within free and possibly even get the girl in the process.
Whew. That's a lot of description to pack into a little paragraph. Trouble is, that's only the tip of the iceberg with Intertwined. It seems that each new chapter brings further complications and characters to muddy the waters and make Aden's life more difficult. And that is the biggest problem with this book: it's so convoluted with plots, sub-plots, and coincidences that I'm still not sure what was the main focus. Though I rather enjoyed the characters of Mary Ann, Riley, and Aden, the rest of the cast seemed placed solely for convenience's sake, including love interest Victoria: how wonderful (cough!) was it that she has a gift of making people do and think whatever she wants (but doesn't really practice it on Aden) so that everyone can get out of tight scrapes easily? The conversations were often stilted, moving from today's slang ("Hawt!") to old-fashioned Romanian style vampire-speak within a page or less. And the whole drama with Mary Ann's bff Penny? Unnecessary and just plain distracting. I just kept feeling as though the storyline, while unique, could have been so much more if half of the ideas had been left out and more focus given to the characters' feelings. And at times, if I'm being honest, I felt that the writing style itself bordered on inexperience (though I know that's not the case of the author). All of this mixed together just makes the whole idea...well, silly and not very well planned out.
I still am giving this novel three stars, rounded up from 2.5 because there was a section where Aden and Mary Ann were developing a good relationship that I felt the pages flying by. And overall, it is a fast read with so much potential. There was some humor and some angst that captured me, but this novel needed an editor with a much heavier hand than the one it got. Obviously the ending is a set up for a sequel but I am sure I'll give it a pass. That ending fight scene alone was so poorly written that I'd feel like having my own eyes poked out to spend more of my life wading through too many coincidences and not enough substance.