Category Archives: YA fiction

Review: Glass by Ellen Hopkins (Crank series)

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GlassGlass by Ellen Hopkins (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2007), Crank series

Have You Ever Tried

To quit

            a bad habit, one

            that has come to

            define you?

 

Kristina has been clean and sober for months now. She’s living at home and taking care of baby Hunter. She’s studying for her GED and looking for a job. She’ll be eighteen in just a few weeks. Things are looking good, right up until she starts thinking about how boring her life is, and how much weight she gained during her pregnancy, and how nice it would be to have a boyfriend again, and she thinks maybe, just maybe, if she stays in control, she can start using again.

This is the first in a long series of bad decisions that Kristina makes. At first things seem to be going just fine: she’s losing weight, she’s got a job, and it’s easy to score high-quality crank that is perfect for a pick-me-up to get her through the day. But of course, things aren’t just fine, and the last straw for Kristina’s parents comes when she crashes hard and doesn’t wake up even for her screaming baby. Kristina is thrown out of the house and her parents tell her she won’t see Hunter again until she cleans herself up.

That’s when things spiral out of control. Kristina moves in with her boyfriend’s cousin, who is also their drug dealer. She’s living from paycheck to paycheck, spending all of her money on drugs. She’s engaging in risky behaviors—driving while she’s high, having unprotected sex, stealing money—and on the rare occasions when she does talk with her family, she keeps pushing them away—and, she realizes after she hangs up the phone, she keeps forgetting to ask about Hunter. She’s shut herself off from her former friends, her family, even her own child.

While Crank focused on how seductive drugs can be and how anyone can start using and become addicted, Glass is about the impact of addiction on users and the people around them. Kristina’s life revolves around drugs: when and where she’ll score, how she’ll pay, when and how much she’ll use. Her relationships all revolve around drugs: the people she buys from, the people she sleeps with while she’s high. The book is written in free verse and is told entirely from Kristina’s point of view, so it’s left to the reader to imagine what her family must be going through (Kristina, of course, is too lost in her addiction to be able to see anything outside of herself). This is not an easy book to read. It’s utterly heart-wrenching. But it’s an amazing depiction of the destruction wrought by addiction, and the way in which the story is told—Kristina’s words break your heart because you can see what’s happening and know what’s coming, and you know she’s going to keep making bad decisions as long as she continues to use—is unique and compelling.

 

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review: Crank by Ellen Hopkins

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CrankCrank by Ellen Hopkins (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2004)

 

Life was good
before I
met
the monster.
After,
life
was great,
At
least
for a little while.

 

Crank is the story of an ordinary girl who becomes a meth addict. It’s told in free verse form, so there’s not much in the way of narrative or dialogue, but that makes the story all the more powerful because it’s stripped down to its bones.

Kristina is an ordinary teenager. She’s sixteen and it’s the summer before her junior year in high school. She’s a straight-A student with an older sister and a younger brother, a mother and a stepfather. The book begins when she goes to stay with her biological father, who is an addict, for three weeks. While in Albuquerque she discovers Bree: the side of herself that is reckless, a vamp, who likes attention and who is willing to break all the rules that Kristina lives by. As Bree, she attracts the attention of the boy who introduces her to love—and to crank, the monster that changes her life forever.

I can understand why parents wouldn’t want their children to read Crank. But this is the kind of book I would have loved as a teenager precisely because Kristina was someone I could relate to; she could have been any one of my friends. The underlying message—that drug addiction can happen to anyone, and escaping the monster is almost impossible—is a powerful and important one, and the unique structure and the power of the storytelling resulted in a book I read in one sitting.

Hopkins wrote this based on her own experiences with her daughter, who was addicted to methamphetamines, and that gives the book a very real feel. It’s honest and it’s harsh and it pulls no punches about the consequences of drug abuse. Kristina/Bree’s inner conflict is heart-wrenching: she wants to be a good girl, a good student, a good sister and daughter and friend, but the pull of the monster is stronger. She makes one bad choice after another—almost all of them based on her need for crank—and the consequences are life-altering in a way she never could have imagined before she started using.

 

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review: Defy by Sarah B. Larson

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DefyDefy by Sara B. Larson (2014, Scholastic Press)

Blurb: Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king’s army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince’s guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can’t prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory.

The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she’s sworn to protect?

After reading the above description, I was really excited to read this book. I expected a strong female character, an action-packed fantasy novel, and a lot of in-depth character interaction. Sadly, that is not what this book is. If you want a strong female character who is decisive and self-confident and a leader, this is not the book for you. Alexa is defined, both by others and by herself, solely in terms of her relationships to other (male) characters: she is Marcel’s twin; one of Damian’s elite guard; Rylan’s friend. This evolves or devolves (depending on how you choose to look at it) into Alexa as the love interest of both Damian and Rylan, and as the pawn of the Men with the Plan. At no time does Alexa come up with a plan of her own—virtually all of her actions are the results of orders given to her by men. The only reason Alexa lives to the end of the book is that men perform heroic actions, they protect her, save her life, and tell her what to do to stay alive. That’s not really my idea of a strong female action character.

The world-building in Defy is minimal; it’s a romance novel with swords and magic and a generic fantasy setting, not a fantasy novel with a romance. I didn’t actually mind that so much because so many books go overboard with world-building. What I did mind were the places where the world-building slipped, for example, when one character tells another that “pride goeth before a fall.” I couldn’t quite work out how a character in a fantasy setting with no real mention of religion was able to quote the Bible.

The focus on the romance rather than on a plot is also responsible for the wildly uneven pacing of the book. The plot-based scenes do have a fair amount of action in them, but the minute the action stops, all Alexa does is moon over the dudes. Seriously! If she’s not actively fighting, during her weeks-long journey through the jungle, while being held captive, the most efficient, skilled soldier in the king’s army thinks not about survival or escape tactics, but is instead unable to produce a single coherent thought that does not involve her attraction to Rylan and/or Damian.

The author uses the gender-swap device solely as a means of getting Alexa close enough to Damian and Rylan that she can fall in love with them. There’s no exploration of gender roles in society—theirs or ours. The same-sex aspect of the love triangle, which I was looking forward to, was completely sidestepped. I would have wondered if the issue of same-sex attraction was deemed inappropriate for the target YA audience were it not for the vivid descriptions of the breeding houses—oh, didn’t I mention that? All captured children are separated by sex: boys train to be soldiers, girls are forced to bear children who will then be subjected to the same fate. Although this is disturbing enough just on the face of it, what’s even more disturbing is that their inclusion seems to be more to evoke in the reader a reaction against the current regime than to serve any real function within the story. The characters themselves just accept the breeding houses as the way things are rather than as, you know, a reason to actively oppose a vile regime instead of being part of the elite guard ensuring the regime’s survival.

All in all, this book was a huge disappointment. Between the lack of a plot, the lack of any real character or relationship development, and a fair bit of what seemed to me to be anti-feminist content (I won’t go so far as to call it misogynistic, but others have), based on this book I’m going to give the rest of the series a pass.

This ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My rating: 2 stars out of 5.

Review: I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

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IHuntKillersI Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga (Little, Brown & Co., 2012)

 

Blurb: What if the world’s worst serial killer…was your dad?


Jasper “Jazz” Dent is a likable teenager. A charmer, one might say.


But he’s also the son of the world’s most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, Take Your Son to Work Day was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could—from the criminal’s point of view.


And now bodies are piling up in Lobo’s Nod.


In an effort to clear his name, Jazz joins the police in a hunt for a new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret—could he be more like his father than anyone knows?

 

I was really hoping to like this book because I’d heard so many positive things about it. Unfortunately, it didn’t work for me. While the premise is intriguing, the quality of the writing and the reliance on clichés ensured that the book didn’t live up to its promise.

Jazz Dent is almost 18. His father, a notorious serial killer, is now in jail, and Jazz lives with his (increasingly unstable) grandmother. He spends his days avoiding the social worker who wants to put him in foster care and trying to reassure himself that although he may well be a sociopath (officially he can’t be diagnosed until he turns 18), he isn’t a killer. This becomes increasingly difficult as his dreams—memories?—seem to be telling him this is a line he might have already crossed. Then suddenly there’s a series of murders in Jazz’s town, and since he has Keen Insight into the Criminal Mind, he takes it upon himself to investigate the murders and badger local law enforcement until he is officially made a part of the investigation.

And this is where we get into the clichés: the flashbacks that seem to indicate Jazz is a murderer—or do they?; the missing mother, likely one of his father’s victims (although, this being a series, I’d be stunned if she doesn’t show up at some point in a future book); the safe girlfriend who shows that he may be capable of Real Feelings; the best friend who provides comic relief and the vehicle for Parental Disapproval.

Add to this some major info dump about serial killers—yes, I get that this is a YA book, but teenagers are capable of grasping information the first time it’s provided, and this book was all about repetition, especially when it came to Jazz’s “inner turmoil,” by which I mean whining. I don’t usually mind being inside a character’s head, but this was just too much of the same thing, again and again: Oh no what if I’m evil? I have been shaped to be a super serial killer and all I think about is killing and not killing! It’s exactly the wrong combination of self-awareness and teen angst for me.

 

My rating: 2 stars

Review: BZRK Reloaded by Michael Grant (BZRK #2)

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BZRK ReloadedBZRK Reloaded by Michael Grant (Egmont USA, 2013): BZRK series

 

The first book in the series, BZRK, was a true thrill ride: nanobots, biotech, mass murder, espionage (both political and industrial), good vs. evil, and a hit of romance. The book ended with the failure of the BZRK mission: to stop the Armstrong brothers, Charles and Benjamin, conjoined twins who want to make the world a perfect place through technological enslavement.

BZRK Reloaded is even better.

The book picks up where the previous book left off. Having failed in their mission, the BZRK group is left to pick up the pieces. The president is under the secret control of the Armstrong brothers—maybe—who are using government resources to track down what remains of BZRK. Olivia has suffered horrific injuries; Vincent, having lost one of his biots during the battle, teeters on the brink of insanity; Nijinsky has become the reluctant leader; and Plath and Keats have realized the true stakes of the battle. In fact, part of what makes BZRK Reloaded better than the first book is the transition of BZRK from a group of loosely affiliated gamers who enjoy the action at the nanolevel to a group of individuals with a personal grudge against the Armstrong brothers. Yes, they oppose the utopia the Armstrong Fancy Gifts Corporation would impose upon everyone, but more than that, they have a score to settle with Charles, Benjamin, Burnofsky, and Bug Man. And Anonymous makes a guest appearance as a minor annoyance that turns out to be not so minor.

The characters develop nicely in this second book in a planned trilogy. The book is still full of action, but as with the Gone series, the shifting alliances and perfectly timed conversations reveal motives and secrets of each character without becoming mired in introspection. Grant uses these devices to explore philosophical issues (What makes a good leader? Can battles or wars ever really be cast in terms of black and white, good and evil? Can a person employ tactics he despises for what he believes are the right reasons, and still be a good person? Where and how is that line crossed?) in a way that preserves the book’s rapid pace.

The battle scenes are not as frequent as in BZRK but are no less fascinating; microscopic nanotech making its way around the human body makes for great description, and the in-depth view of what goes into “wiring” the brain—and how the brain reacts—is as compelling as it is cringe-inducing.

This is clearly a second book; while it stands alone, it does so within the context of the series and would be utterly confusing to anyone who didn’t read the first book. It’s setting up the final battle in the third book, BZRK Revolution, so while the ending is a resolution of sorts, I’m left anticipating what is to follow. I’ve got questions, and I’m looking forward to the next book so I can get some answers.

This book was provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

My rating: 4 stars

 

Review: Countdown by Michelle Rowen

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CountdownCountdown by Michelle Rowen (Harlequin Teen, 2013)

Kira Jordan awakens in a pitch-black room, chained to a wall, with no idea how she got there. She soon realizes the room’s other occupant is Rogan Ellis, convicted murderer, and that he holds the key—literally—to her survival.

Kira soon discovers that she and Rogan have been thrust into a world of underground entertainment—it’s like Survivor on steroids, a brutal series of challenges where contestants have no choice but fight to the death. Theirs is a society where the very wealthy, the Subscribers, are willing to pay for brain implants so they can access “the Network” and watch programming such as Countdown. Kira, who has lived on the streets since the brutal murder of her parents and her sister, is stronger than she thinks, and she soon realizes the benefits of having Rogan on her side outweigh the risks of teaming up with a murderer.

At first the story moves at a breakneck pace, setting aside world-building and characterization for the sake of building tension and suspense. Information about Kira, Rogan, and Countdown and who’s behind it is given out slowly and only when necessary. This works well for the first three-quarters of the book. It’s a thrill ride, and I couldn’t put the book down because I needed to know what happened to Kira and Rogan. But then the story seems to lose its way. Rather than focusing on their own survival, Kira and Rogan suddenly become pawns in a game of industrial espionage, and the action slows almost to a halt. The characters whose survival has depended on quick thinking and immediate action suddenly start agonizing over every decision, hesitating before they do anything, and because there’s been no narrative preparation for such a drastic change, the introspection and need for approval from each other comes across as forced.

There’s a lot going on in Countdown—it’s a dystopian society where a plague has wiped out much of the population but somehow has allowed for the development of psi abilities in some girls, and there’s this forbidden world of ultra-violent “entertainment”—and unfortunately there’s just enough of that to be fun, but not quite enough to make for a complex, compelling read. This is a perfect airport thriller: fun and quick to read, but doesn’t really stay with you once you’ve finished.

This book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My rating: 3 stars

Review: The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

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TheBoneSeasonThe Bone Season by Samantha Shannon (Bloomsbury, 2013)

One of the great joys of being a reader is finding a book that incorporates familiar elements in a way that is completely original. The Bone Season is such a book.

Paige Mahoney lives in 2059 Scion London, where “voyants”—people with special mental abilities—are hunted down. Some are imprisoned, some are executed, and some are forced to join the security forces and use their powers to capture other voyants. Paige is part of an underworld group called the syndicate, which is kind of like a mafia protection racket: the voyants go to work for the syndicate, and the syndicate looks out for the voyants. Paige is the group’s “mollisher,” the second in command; and although she recognizes her powers are somewhat unusual, she doesn’t fully understand what they are and what their limits might be. One day, riding home on a subway, she has a run-in with the Scion security forces that changes her life forever: she’s captured and sent to a penal colony run by the Rephaim—an alien race who control the Scion—where voyants are the soldiers in the Rephaim war against their own enemies.

If this sounds complicated, that’s because it is. But Shannon has an incredibly deft hand at world-building: the descriptions of London and Sheol I, the prison, are richly layered and full of details. And it’s not just the places. The societies are also fully realized—the human world, where ESP is viewed as a potentially curable illness and people volunteer for “treatment”; the voyant underworld and the syndicate; and then the world of Sheol I—each with its own set of rules and hierarchies. All this information is presented in a way that is effortless for the reader. There’s no slogging through background information or paging through excessive description, and as a reader I never got the sense that I was being given more information or detail than I needed.

Paige is an engaging and incredibly frustrating character. She’s smart, she’s passionate, and she’s intensely loyal, which means that she makes a lot of decisions that an outsider can instantly identify as bad ones, but that Paige is going to make every time because that’s who she is. Paige is also endlessly curious, and at Sheol I she’s got a lot to explore: the prison itself; the Rephaim; her own powers, which she is beginning to realize are even more unusual and special than she ever imagined; and her relationships within the prison. Her master is a Rephaim called Warden, who manages to be simultaneously cruel and sympathetic. The relationship between Paige and Warden is very well drawn; Paige, so slow to trust but so incredibly loyal, doesn’t know what to do with this Rephaim whose motives are so unclear—is he trying to help her or destroy her?

To sum up: I loved this book. It’s richly layered, complex, and compelling. I plan on re-reading it when the sequel is published because I know there’s more under the surface that I’ve missed.

The Bone Season is the first book in a planned series of seven by debut author Samantha Shannon.  Apparently Andy Serkis has already optioned the film rights; if so, I hope this book makes it to the screen, because it has the potential to be amazing in a visual medium.

 

This book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

My rating: 5 stars

Review: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

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The5thWaveThe 5th Wave by Rick Yancey (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2013)

Blurb: After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

 

I have a confession to make: I love postapocalyptic and/or dystopian novels. Always have done. From Brave New World to We to A Canticle for Liebowitz, to The Stand and The Passage, and on up through Divergent and Gone and The Hunger Games, I love ’em all. Yes, they have certain similarities. Yes, they might indicate a certain cynicism in my attitude toward humanity’s future. But for the most part, these books highlight things I like in my books: sympathetic characters, engaging plots, and a look at the question of what it means to be human.

The 5th Wave does have certain elements that have become clichés in YA dystopian/postapocalyptic fiction: the destruction of society as we know it; the virtual elimination of the adult population; the strong female lead character who’s been taken from her loved ones and has to fight her way back; the hint of romance with a boy she doesn’t necessarily trust. This book, like many others in the genre, is about survivors—what it takes to survive and the toll it takes, both on individuals and on humanity as a whole. But that’s OK, because these are themes I happen to enjoy. A formula isn’t a problem if a writer finds a new and unique way of presenting it, and for me, The 5th Wave is a prime example of that.

By shifting POV between the main characters, Yancey is able to keep the reader unsettled and just a little bit confused about what’s going on—much as the characters themselves must be. There’s a lot of action, but there’s also a lot of waiting, but because the book is character-driven the slow parts don’t bog down the overall pace. The focus is on the characters: on Cassie and her search for her little brother Sammy; on Evan, who may or may not be her savior; and on Ben Parish and his band of fighters.

A lot of reviews on The 5th Wave have focused on the hype around it (it was being called “the next Hunger Games”). I don’t know or care if it’s going to be the next big thing. To me, The 5th Wave was a well-crafted story about the invasion of the planet, and what a kick-ass heroine will do to save her loved ones in the aftermath. I think this is the first in a series, but I enjoyed it as a stand-alone.

 

My rating: 4 stars

Review: Black Heart by Holly Black

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Black HeartBlack Heart by Holly Black (Margaret K. McElderry, 2012)

Blurb: Cassel Sharpe has the most deadly ability of all. With one touch, he can transform any object – including a person – into something else entirely. And that makes him a wanted man. The Feds are willing to forgive all his past crimes if he’ll only leave his con artist family behind and go straight. But why does going straight feel so crooked?

For one thing, it means being on the opposite side of the law from Lila, the girl he loves. She’s the daughter of a mob boss and getting ready to join the family business herself. Though Cassel is pretty sure she can never love him back, he can’t stop obsessing over her. Which would be bad enough, even if her father wasn’t keeping Cassel’s mother prisoner in a posh apartment and threatening not to let her leave until she returns the priceless diamond she scammed off him years ago. Too bad she can’t remember where she put it.

The Feds say they need Cassel to get rid of a powerful man who is spinning dangerously out of control. But if they want Cassel to use his unique talent to hurt people, what separates the good guys from the bad ones? Or is everyone just out to con him?

Time is running out, and all Cassel’s magic and cleverness might not be enough to save him. With no easy answers and no one he can trust, love might be the most dangerous gamble of all.

 

I think the Curseworkers may be my favorite YA urban fantasy series. The writing is crisp and witty, the story line is unique, the pacing is peppy, the characters are well-developed and realistic, and the world-building is superb. These are fantastic books and I can’t recommend them enough.

The first book, White Cat, was the story of Cassel’s self-discovery. Red Glove explored how he dealt with what he’d learned and tried to move forward, and Black Heart is all about Cassel taking control of his life. Romance is front and center in this book, which makes sense—he’s dealt with the fallout of his feelings without ever dealing with the relationship itself.

Over the course of the series, Cassel has grown from a naïve non-magic-worker to a cynical pawn in other people’s games: various crime families, the Feds. But he’s smart, and he’s spent his entire life learning how to run a con, and in this book the elements all come together for Cassel to finally run a con of his own. Once again Black managed to completely surprise me with her plotting. When I look back at the series I can see how she laid out off the elements and how everything fit together, but when I’m reading it, I’m not analyzing at all, I’m just enjoying the ride. That’s the mark of a good storycrafter.

 Black Heart is the third book in the series, and while it read as though it was the final book, I’ve seen a new, fourth book listed. I am curious as to whether this will be the further adventures of Cassel and Lila or the new adventures of a secondary character. Either way, it’s on my TBR list!

 

My rating: 4 stars

Review: Ink by Amanda Sun

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InkInk by Amanda Sun (Harlequin Teen, 2013)

 

Blurb: On the heels of a family tragedy, the last thing Katie Greene wants to do is move halfway across the world. Stuck with her aunt in Shizuoka, Japan, Katie feels lost. Alone. She doesn’t know the language, she can barely hold a pair of chopsticks, and she can’t seem to get the hang of taking her shoes off whenever she enters a building.

Then there’s gorgeous but aloof Tomohiro, star of the school’s kendo team. How did he really get the scar on his arm? Katie isn’t prepared for the answer. But when she sees the things he draws start moving, there’s no denying the truth: Tomo has a connection to the ancient gods of Japan, and being near Katie is causing his abilities to spiral out of control. If the wrong people notice, they’ll both be targets.

Katie never wanted to move to Japan—now she may not make it out of the country alive.

 

I was really looking forward to reading this book: the cover is gorgeous, and the premise is fantastic: American girl moves to Japan, meets Japanese boy whose drawings come to life. Add some romance and the Yakuza to the mix, and you’ve got Ink.

The author has spent time in Japan as an exchange student, and it shows. Katie’s confusion and frustration as she tries to adapt to a new culture are very well portrayed, as is her excitement when she starts getting the little things right. The descriptions of Japan are the book’s best feature; reading about the natural beauty, the food, and daily life prompted me to add Japan to my list of places to visit. Because it’s presented through Katie’s eyes, there’s no sense of info dump; Katie’s discovery of Japan is perfectly presented.

Unfortunately, in emphasizing the setting, the author neglects other vital aspects of the story, namely the plot and the other characters. The central story is very slow to develop and full of clichés, and that’s due primarily to the weak characterization. We never really get to know any of the secondary characters at all; rather than being multi-dimensional beings, they’re clichéd means to an end. We’re told Katie’s best friends and her aunt are instrumental in helping her deal with her mother’s death and her move to Japan, yet we don’t see much in the way of interaction with them, let alone understand why they mean so much to Katie. Instead, she meets Tomohiro, and boom, she’s in love, and there’s kind of a love triangle, and there’s a frenemy, and from that point forward those are the only four characters who seem to get any attention. The action picked up significantly in the last third of the book, as the implications of Tomohiro’s skills became clear. There’s a strong supernatural element to this story and it’s well set up for an ongoing series.

I did have some other nitpicky issues with the story: Would an American girl who can’t read the buttons on a Japanese washing machine really be able to determine in a few seconds that a rapid-fire conversation was in Korean? Katie’s aunt bought her a mobile phone for emergencies, then left Katie alone for a week while she went to another city, so why in the world does Katie’s cell phone not have her aunt’s number in its list of contacts? Most of the dialogue is in English, but some is in Japanese. Because of this, it’s difficult to tell in which language conversations are taking place. Most of the time it doesn’t matter, but sometimes it does, and the way it’s presented can be confusing. None of these are significant, but they’re the kind of missteps that pull me out of the story.

As I mentioned earlier, the cover is gorgeous. I read an electronic version, and it immediately became clear that this is a book that should be read in physical form. The drawings that appear throughout are beautifully rendered, and I’m pretty sure that some of them are clever animations when you flip through the pages. It’s a detail that fits in well with the story and adds to the overall impression.

 

This ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

My rating: 3 stars