Welcome to the next post in my Anticipated Books series for the first half of 2015. YA books have become a steady part of my reading diet. Some of my favourite authors are writing for this age group and there are just so many great titles out there. Consequently, I’ve had to spread my YA picks over three posts. This is the second one. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them! Read More …
We’re almost there! Welcome to the penultimate post in my Anticipated Books series for the first half of 2014. Today I’m sharing the second half of my picks for books published for the YA crowd. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them! Read More …
Welcome to the next post in my Anticipated Books series for the first half of 2014. YA books have become a big part of my reading diet. Some of my favourite authors are writing for this age group and there are just so many great titles out there. Consequently, YA too has been spread over two posts. This is the first half. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them! Read More …
Here’s the second half of my Anticipated Books YA post. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them.
For as long as Lily Winston can remember, she has never been alone. Iris, a shadowy figure who mimics Lily’s movements and whispers in her ear, is with her always—but invisible to the rest of the world. Iris is Lily’s secret.
But when Lily’s father is killed in a tragic accident, his cryptic final words suggest that he and Lily’s mother have been keeping secrets of their own. Suddenly, Iris begins pushing Lily more than ever, possessing her thoughts and urging her to put together the pieces of a strange puzzle her father left behind. As she searches for answers, Lily finds herself drawn to Ty Collier, a mysterious new boy in town. Together, Lily and Ty must untangle a web of deception to discover the truth about her family, Iris . . . and Lily’s own identity.
Catherine Fisher – Obsidian Mirror (Fantasy, Dial Books)
The obsidian mirror. Its power is great and terrible. Men have been lost in it, the dead brought back to life through it, and the future annihilated by it. Or it will be, unless the mirror is destroyed. One has been sent from the future to do just that. One protects the mirror at all costs, obsessed with its power. One needs the mirror to find a murdered father and save his life. Only one can succeed.
The mirror can send you to the past, but it will not bring you back.
Jordana Frankel – The Ward (Science Fiction, Katherine Tegen Books)
Sixteen-year-old Ren is a daredevil mobile racer who will risk everything to survive in the Ward, what remains of a water-logged Manhattan. To save her sister, who is suffering from a deadly illness thought to be caused by years of pollution, Ren accepts a secret mission from the government: to search for a freshwater source in the Ward, with the hope of it leading to a cure.
However, she never expects that her search will lead to dangerous encounters with a passionate young scientist; a web of deceit and lies; and an earth-shattering mystery that’s lurking deep beneath the water’s rippling surface.
Helen Grant – Silent Saturday (Mystery, Random House Children’s Books)
Seventeen-year-old Veerle is bored with life in suburban Brussels. But a chance encounter with a hidden society, whose members illegally break into unoccupied buildings around the city, soon opens up a whole new world of excitement – and danger.
When one of the society’s founding members disappears, Veerle suspects foul play. But nothing can prepare her for the horror that is about to unfold when an old foe emerges from the shadows… No one is safe, and The Hunter will strike again…
Karen Mahoney – The Stone Demon (Fantasy, Flux)
The just-unleashed demon hordes have delivered an impossible ultimatum to the Order of the Crow: produce the Philosopher’s Stone, or suffer a reaper storm of demonic tribulation. If alchemist’s apprentice Donna Underwood can’t recreate the mythical artifact, the world will be plunged into a devastating modern-day Dark Age.
Pitting her dangerously unpredictable powers against a vengeful demon king, two maleficent faery queens, and an immortal magus with his own shadowy agenda, Donna must be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice–but this time, even death may not be enough.
A fluid, compelling and thought-provoking debut. Sisters, Carey and Jenessa, live with their mother in the heart of the woods – until Mum disappears and a social worker arrives with Carey’s father. Suddenly the sisters must adapt to the wider world. But Carey is burdened by a terrible secret that she fears will destroy her new life and new relationships. Can the truth set her free?
Jennifer E. Smith – This Is What Happy Looks Like (Contemporary, Headline)
When 17-year-old Graham Larkin sends an email to a friend about his pet pig, Wilbur, the last thing he expects is a response from the other side of the country, from one Ellie O’Neill. As their online friendship blossoms, they begin to reveal more about themselves, but crucially leave out the truth about Ellie’s past and Graham’s career as a Hollywood heartthrob. But, now that they’re together, it’s impossible to keep their secrets for long and there’s a lot to overcome if love is to blossom…
Scott Tracey – Moonset (Fantasy, Flux)
Justin Daggett, his trouble-making sister, and their three orphan-witch friends have gotten themselves kicked out of high school. Again. Now they’ve ended up in Carrow Mills, New York, the town where their parents–members of the terrorist witch organization known as Moonset–began their evil experiments with the dark arts one generation ago.
When the siblings are accused of unleashing black magic on the town, Justin fights to prove their innocence. But tracking down the true culprit leads him to a terrifying discovery about Moonset’s past…and its deadly future.
Martha Wells – Emilie and the Hollow World (Fantasy, Strange Chemistry)
While running away from home for reasons that are eminently defensible, Emilie’s plans to stow away on the steamship Merry Bell and reach her cousin in the big city go awry, landing her on the wrong ship and at the beginning of a fantastic adventure.
Taken under the protection of Lady Marlende, Emilie learns that the crew hopes to use the aether currents and an experimental engine, and with the assistance of Lord Engal, journey to the interior of the planet in search of Marlende’s missing father.
With the ship damaged on arrival, they attempt to traverse the strange lands on their quest. But when evidence points to sabotage and they encounter the treacherous Lord Ivers, along with the strange race of the sea-lands, Emilie has to make some challenging decisions and take daring action if they are ever to reach the surface world again.
K.L. Armstrong and M.A. Marr – Loki’s Wolves (Fantasy, Atom)
In Viking times, Norse myths predicted the end of the world, an event called Ragnarök that only the gods can stop. When this apocalypse happens, the gods must battle the monsters – wolves the size of the sun, serpents that span the sea beds – all bent on destroying the world.
But the gods died a long time ago.
Matt Thorsen knows every Norse myth, saga, and god as if it was family history – because it is family history. Most people in the modern-day town of Blackwell, South Dakota, are direct descendants of either Thor or Loki, including Matt’s classmates Fen and Laurie Brekke. However, knowing the legends and completely believing them are two different things. When the rune readers reveal that Ragnarök is coming and kids – led by Matt – will stand in for the gods in the final battle, Matt can hardly believe it.
Matt’s, Laurie’s and Fen’s lives will never be the same as they race to put together an unstoppable team to prevent the end of the world.
Mama, who isn’t my mother, has kept me hidden away for eight long years. My only companions, besides Mama, are my books – great adventures, mysteries, and romances, that I long to make my reality. But I know that no one will come to save me—my life is not a fairy tale after all.
Well, at least no one has come so far. Recently, my hair has started to grow rapidly and it is now long enough to reach the bottom of the tower from my window. I’ve also had the strangest dreams of a beautiful green-eyed boy.
When Mama isn’t around, I plan my escape, even if it’s just for a little while. There’s something— maybe someone—waiting for me out there and it won’t find me if I’m trapped here TOWERING above it all.
Dan Krokos – The Planet Thieves (Science Fiction, Starscape)
Two weeks ago, thirteen-year-old Mason Stark and seventeen of his fellow cadets from the Academy for Earth Space Command boarded the SS Egypt. he trip was supposed to be a short routine voyage to log their required spacetime for summer quarter.
But routine goes out the airlock when they’re attacked by the Tremist, an alien race who have been at war with humanity for the last sixty years.
With the captain and crew dead, injured, or taken prisoner, Mason and the cadets are all that’s left to warn the ESC. And soon they find out exactly why the Tremist chose this ship to attack: the Egypt is carrying a weapon that could change the war forever.
Now Mason will have to lead the cadets in a daring assault to take back the ship, rescue the survivors, and recover the weapon. Before there isn’t a war left to fight.
Bennett Madison – September Girls (Fantasy, HarperTeen)
Critically acclaimed author Bennett Madison presents a darkly imaginative and painfully honest novel about oblivious parents, sibling rivalries, first loves… and mermaids. This modern reimagining is perfect for fans of the irreverent wit of Ned Vizzini and the seductive magic of Alex Flinn’s retold fairy tales.
Lauren Miller – Parallel (Science Fiction, HarperTeen)
Abby Barnes had a plan. The Plan. She’d go to Northwestern, major in journalism, and land a job at a national newspaper, all before she turned twenty-two. But one tiny choice—taking a drama class her senior year of high school—changed all that. Now, on the eve of her eighteenth birthday, Abby is stuck on a Hollywood movie set, miles from where she wants to be, wishing she could rewind her life. The next morning, she’s in a dorm room at Yale, with no memory of how she got there. Overnight, it’s as if her past has been rewritten.
With the help of Caitlin, her science-savvy BFF, Abby discovers that this new reality is the result of a cosmic collision of parallel universes that has Abby living an alternate version of her life. And not only that: Abby’s life changes every time her parallel self makes a new choice. Meanwhile, her parallel is living out Abby’s senior year of high school and falling for someone Abby’s never even met.
As she struggles to navigate her ever-shifting existence, forced to live out the consequences of a path she didn’t choose, Abby must let go of the Plan and learn to focus on the present, without losing sight of who she is, the boy who might just be her soul mate, and the destiny that’s finally within reach.
First it was SLUT scribbled all over the school’s lockers. But one week after Lizzie Hart takes her own life, SUICIDE SLUT replaces it—in Lizzie’s own looping scrawl. Photocopies of her diary show up in the hands of her classmates. And her best friend, Angie, is enraged.
Angie had stopped talking to Lizzie on prom night, when she caught Lizzie in bed with her boyfriend. Too heartbroken to let Lizzie explain the hookup or to intervene when Lizzie gets branded Queen of the Sluts and is cruelly bullied by her classmates, Angie left her best friend to the mercy of the school, with tragic results.
But with this new slur, Angie’s guilt transforms into anger that someone is still targeting Lizzie even after her death. Using clues from Lizzie’s diary and aided by the magnetic, mysterious Jesse, Angie begins relentlessly investigating who, exactly, made Lizzie feel life was no longer worth living. And while she might claim she simply wants to punish Lizzie’s tormentors, her anguish over abandoning and then losing her best friend drives Angie deeper into the dark, twisted side of Verity High—and she might not be able to pull herself back out.
Christian Schoon – Zenn Scarlett (Science Fiction, Strange Chemistry Books)
Zenn Scarlett is a bright, determined, occasionally a-little-too-smart-for-her-own-good 17-year-old girl training hard to become an exoveterinarian. That means she’s specializing in the treatment of exotic alien life forms, mostly large and generally dangerous. Her novice year of training at the Ciscan Cloister Exovet Clinic on Mars will find her working with alien patients from whalehounds the size of a hay barn to a baby Kiran Sunkiller, a colossal floating creature that will grow up to carry a whole sky-city on its back.
But after a series of inexplicable animal escapes from the school and other near-disasters, the Cloister is in real danger of being shut down by a group of alien-hating officials. If that happens, Zenn knows only too well the grim fate awaiting the creatures she loves.
Now, she must unravel the baffling events plaguing her school, before someone is hurt or killed, before everything she cares about is ripped away from her and her family forever. To solve this mystery – and live to tell about it – Zenn will have to put her new exovet skills to work in ways she never imagined, and in the process learn just how powerful compassion and empathy can be.
Amy Tintera – Reboot (Science Fiction, HarperTeen)
La Femme Nikita meets Maximum Ride in this action-packed debut novel about seventeen-year-old Wren, who rose from the dead as a Reboot and is now the government’s top soldier—until she is given an order she refuses to obey.
Sage Blackwood – Jinx: The Wizard’s Apprentice (Fantasy, Quercus Children’s)
Never stray far from the path is the rule every child in the Urwald Forest follows. Every child, that is, except a boy named Jinx.
Jinx is an apprentice to Simon, a wizard who is just a little bit evil. When one of Simon’s spells robs Jinx of his ability to see other people’s thoughts, he decides to head off into the forest to try recover his magic.
Jinx’s mission brings him face to face with a very evil, soul-sucking wizard, the terrible Bonemaster. With help only from Elfwyn, who is cursed with a truth-telling spell, and Reven, who is far too polite to be useful in a fight, it looks like Jinx’s magic could be gone forever …
John Carter Cash – Lupus Rex (Fantasy, Ravenstone)
Isyl and Cormo are two quail who must risk their lives when they are driven from their home by the crows when the Murder fractures over the decision of who shall rule the Tree. The disorder this brings to the region comes to the attention of the wolf Asmod and he sees an opportunity to make himself King. To restore order the quails must venture far from their home to seek an audience with a potentially dangerous ally, the hawk Pitrin. As the forest trembles with the approach of Asmod’s army, the two quail will find themselves entangled in an epic struggle, as they fight to bring peace to the Field.
Cassandra Rose Clarke – The Pirate’s Wish (Fantasy, Strange Chemistry Books)
After setting out to break the curse that binds them together, the pirate Ananna and the assassin Naji find themselves stranded on an enchanted island in the north with nothing but a sword, their wits, and the secret to breaking the curse: complete three impossible tasks. With the help of their friend Marjani and a rather unusual ally, Ananna and Naji make their way south again, seeking what seems to be beyond their reach.
Unfortunately, Naji has enemies from the shadowy world known as the Mists, and Ananna must still face the repercussions of going up against the Pirate Confederation. Together, Naji and Ananna must break the curse, escape their enemies — and come to terms with their growing romantic attraction.
Shannon Delany – Weather Witch (Fantasy. St. Martin’s Griffin)
Some fled the Old World to avoid war and some fled to leave behind magic. But even the fiercely regulated New World—with its ranks and standards and emphasis on decorum—cannot avoid the power that wells up in certain people and influences weather and calls down storms. So the Weather Witches—those who can control the weather—are hunted by Testers and Wraiths and made to power the Grounded population’s ships, their lights—their every luxury—in a time before either steam or electricity takes hold. Jordan Astraea, a high-ranking member of The Nine is from a flawless background with seemingly no taint of magic or witchery. But on the night of her seventeenth birthday celebration the Wraiths and the Tester appear and blame her for summoning an unscheduled storm. Taken from her family and near-boyfriend, Rowen, Jordan is sentenced to be Made—to become a Conductor—and be enslaved as a living battery for an airship. But breaking Jordan may prove the very thing the carefully constructed New World society cannot survive. And the chance of losing Jordan forever may make Rowen become the hero he would have never dared otherwise be.
David Fleming – The Saturday Boy (Contemporary, Viking Children’s Books)
Eleven-year-old Derek Lamb likes superhero comic books, Saturday morning cartoons, and Chocolate Ka??Blams, but he’d gladly trade all of these things to have his father home. For as long as Derek can remember, his father has been in Afghanistan piloting Apache helicopters for the US Army. The letters they write to each other are all they have to bridge the distance—ninety-one letters to date. But just when Derek’s best friend becomes his archnemesis, a time when Derek could use his father’s advice most, the letters stop. Derek’s whole life is on the brink of change and he doesn’t even know it.
P.J. Hoover – Solstice (Fantasy, Tor Teen)
Piper’s world is dying. Each day brings hotter temperatures and heat bubbles which threaten to destroy the Earth. Amid this Global Heating Crisis, Piper lives under the oppressive rule of her mother, who suffocates her even more than the weather does. Everything changes on her eighteenth birthday, when her mother is called away on a mysterious errand and Piper seizes her first opportunity for freedom.
Piper discovers a universe she never knew existed—a sphere of gods and monsters—and realizes that her world is not the only one in crisis. While gods battle for control of the Underworld, Piper’s life spirals out of control as she struggles to find the answer to the secret that has been kept from her since birth—her very identity…
Imogen Howson – Linked (Science Fiction, Quercus Children’s)
For years, Elissa has suffered nightmarish visions and unexplained bruises. Finally, she’s promised a cure, and an operation is scheduled. But on the eve of the procedure, she discovers the truth: she’s seeing the world through another girl’s eyes. A world filled with wires, machines and pain. Elissa follows her visions, only to find a battered, broken girl.
A girl who looks exactly like her. A twin she never knew existed.
Elissa and Lin go on the run, but even after changing their looks and clothes, they’re barely a step ahead of the government agents who are ruthlessly tracking them down. For Lin and Elissa are too valuable to let go, and the dark truth at the heart of it all is too shocking to risk exposing …
Elizabeth Knox – Mortal Fire (Fantasy, Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Sixteen-year-old Canny Mochrie’s vacation takes a turn when she stumbles upon a mysterious and enchanting valley, occupied almost entirely by children who can perform a special type of magic that tells things how to be stronger and better than they already are. As Canny studies the magic more carefully, she realizes that she not only understands it–she can perform the magic, too, so well that it feels like it has always been a part of her. With the help of an alluring seventeen-year-old boy who is held hostage by a spell that is now more powerful than the people who first placed it, Canny figures out the secrets of this valley and of her own past.
Stephanie Kuehn – Charm & Strange (Contemporary, St. Martin’s Griffin)
Andrew Winston Winters is at war with himself. He’s part Win, the lonely teenager exiled to a remote Vermont boarding school in the wake of a family tragedy. The guy who shuts all his classmates out, no matter the cost, because his darkest fear is turning into a vicious wolf, just like his father. But he’s also part Drew, the angry young boy with violent impulses that control him. The boy who spent a fateful summer with his brother and teenage cousins, only to endure a family secret so painful it led three children to do the unthinkable. Over the course of one night, while stuck at a party deep in the New England woods, Andrew battles the pain of his past and the isolation of his present. Before the sun rises, he’ll either surrender his sanity to the wild wolves inside his mind or learn that surviving means more than not dying.
Alex London – Proxy (Science Fiction, Philomel Books)
Knox was born into one of the City’s wealthiest families. A Patron, he has everything a boy could want—the latest tech, the coolest clothes, and a Proxy to take all his punishments. When Knox breaks a vase, Syd is beaten. When Knox plays a practical joke, Syd is forced to haul rocks. And when Knox crashes a car, killing one of his friends, Syd is branded and sentenced to death.
Syd is a Proxy. His life is not his own.
Then again, neither is Knox’s. Knox and Syd have more in common than either would guess. So when both boys realize that the only way to beat the system is to save each other, they flee. Yet Knox’s father is no ordinary Patron, and Syd is no ordinary Proxy. The ensuing cross-country chase will uncover a society of rebels, test both boys’ resolve, and shine a light onto a world of those who owe and those who pay. Some debts, it turns out, cannot be repaid.
Amy McCulloch – The Oathbreaker’s Shadow (Fantasy, Random House Children’s Books)
Fifteen-year-old Raim lives in a world where you tie a knot for every promise that you make. Break that promise and you are scarred for life, and cast out into the desert.
Raim has worn a simple knot around his wrist for as long as he can remember. No one knows where it came from, and which promise of his it symbolises, but he barely thinks about it at all – not since becoming the most promising young fighter ever to train for the elite Yun guard. But on the most important day of his life, when he binds his life to his best friend (and future khan) Khareh, the string bursts into flames and sears a dark mark into his skin.
Scarred now as an oath-breaker, Raim has two options: run, or be killed.
Sarah Jamila Stevenson – Underneath (Contemporary, Flux)
With New Agey parants and a Pakistani heritage, it might have been difficult for Sunny Pryce-Shah to fit in. Thankfully, she had her older, popular cousin Shiri to talk to–until now. Shiri’s shocking suicide brings heart-wrenching pain and grief, and also seems to have triggered a new and disturbing ability in Sunny: hearing people’s thoughts.
It’s awful, especially when Sunny learns what her so-called friends really think of her. Feeling more comfortable with the Emo crowd, she tells them about her strange talent and uses it to help cute, troubled Cody. But when his true motives are revealed, she isn’t sure whom to trust anymore. Sunny hopes to find answers in Shiri’s journal. Was her cousin also cursed with this “gift”? Will Sunny end up like Shiri?
One of my reading resolutions for 2012 was to explore more YA fiction, which I did. I did it to such an extent that this list has just exploded this year, so much so that I’ve had to split it up, much like my fantasy list. Today the Anticipated Books will showcase YA fiction published from January to March and tomorrow we’ll look at April to June. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them!
Lenore Appelhans – Level 2 (Fantasy, Simon&Schuster)
Since her untimely death the day before her eighteenth birthday, Felicia Ward has been trapped in Level 2, a stark white afterlife located between our world and the next. Along with her fellow drones, Felicia passes the endless hours reliving memories of her time on Earth and mourning what she’s lost–family, friends, and Neil, the boy she loved.
Then a girl in a neighboring chamber is found dead, and nobody but Felicia recalls that she existed in the first place. When Julian–a dangerously charming guy Felicia knew in life–comes to offer Felicia a way out, Felicia learns the truth: If she joins the rebellion to overthrow the Morati, the angel guardians of Level 2, she can be with Neil again.
Suspended between Heaven and Earth, Felicia finds herself at the center of an age-old struggle between good and evil. As memories from her life come back to haunt her, and as the Morati hunt her down, Felicia will discover it’s not just her own redemption at stake… but the salvation of all mankind.
A video appears online. And a boy jumps off a bridge. Jem is determined to avenge the death of Kai – her beloved best friend who was driven to desperation after being ‘outed’ by the popular crew at school. Transforming herself from introverted emo to in-crowd acceptable, Jem becomes part of the clique. She’s going to take down those responsible, one by one.
But what if Kai was keeping secrets from Jem? Could her quest for revenge be directed at the wrong people? And can Jem find out what really happened before someone else gets hurt?
Gavin Extence – The Universe versus Alex Woods (Contemporary, Hodder & Stoughton)
This is the story of seventeen-year-old Alex Woods – born to a clairvoyant mother and a phantom father, victim of an improbable childhood accident – who is stopped at Dover customs in possession of 113 grams of marijuana and the ashes of his best friend, Vietnam veteran Isaac Peterson. What follows is a highly original and compelling account of Alex’s life and the strange series of events that brought him here.
Kira’s the only female in the king’s army, and she’s also the prince’s bodyguard. She’s a demon slayer and an outcast, hated by nearly everyone in her home city of Hansong. And, she’s their only hope. . . .
Murdered kings and discovered traitors point to a demon invasion, sending Kira on the run with the young prince. He may be the savior predicted in the Dragon King’s prophecy, but the legendary lost ruby treasure just might be the true key to victory. With only the guidance of the cryptic prophecy, Kira must battle demon soldiers, an evil shaman, and the Demon Lord himself to find what was once lost and raise a prince into a king.
Broken by A E Rought (Science Fiction/Horror, Strange Chemistry)
Imagine a modern spin on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein where a young couple’s undying love and the grief of a father pushed beyond sanity could spell the destruction of them all.
A string of suspicious deaths near a small Michigan town ends with a fall that claims the life of Emma Gentry’s boyfriend, Daniel. Emma is broken, a hollow shell mechanically moving through her days. She and Daniel had been made for each other, complete only when they were together. Now she restlessly wanders the town in the late Fall gloom, haunting the cemetary and its white-marbled tombs, feeling Daniel everywhere, his spectre in the moonlight and the fog.
When she encounters newcomer Alex Franks, only son of a renowned widowed surgeon, she’s intrigued despite herself. He’s an enigma, melting into shadows, preferring to keep to himself. But he is as drawn to her as she is to him. He is strangely…familiar. From the way he knows how to open her locker when it sticks, to the nickname she shared only with Daniel, even his hazel eyes with brown flecks are just like Daniel’s. The closer they become, though, the more something inside her screams there’s something very wrong with Alex Franks.
And when Emma stumbles across a grotesque and terrifying menagerie of mangled but living animals within the walls of the Franks’ estate, creatures she surely knows must have died from their injuries, she knows.
Megan Shepherd – The Madman’s Daughter (Science Fiction, HarperTeen)
Sixteen-year-old Juliet Moreau has built a life for herself in London—working as a maid, attending church on Sundays, and trying not to think about the scandal that ruined her life. After all, no one ever proved the rumors about her father’s gruesome experiments. But when she learns he is alive and continuing his work on a remote tropical island, she is determined to find out if the accusations are true.
Accompanied by her father’s handsome young assistant, Montgomery, and an enigmatic castaway, Edward—both of whom she is deeply drawn to—Juliet travels to the island, only to discover the depths of her father’s madness: He has experimented on animals so that they resemble, speak, and behave as humans. And worse, one of the creatures has turned violent and is killing the island’s inhabitants. Torn between horror and scientific curiosity, Juliet knows she must end her father’s dangerous experiments and escape her jungle prison before it’s too late. Yet as the island falls into chaos, she discovers the extent of her father’s genius—and madness—in her own blood.
Inspired by H. G. Wells’s classic The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Madman’s Daughter is a dark and breathless Gothic thriller about the secrets we’ll do anything to know and the truths we’ll go to any lengths to protect.
Catherynne M. Valente – The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There (Fantasy, Corsair)
In this, Valente’s second Fairyland book, September returns to Fairyland – but all is not well there. Folk have been losing their shadows and, with them, their magic. September must enter the dark, beautiful, strange kingdom of Fairyland-Below to discover what has happened and save Fairyland from losing all its magic and slipping into the mundane world entirely. But Fairyland-Below has a new ruler, Hallowe’en, the Hollow Queen – and Hallowe’en does not want to give Fairyland’s shadows back.
K.M. Walton – Empty (Contemporary, Simon Pulse)
Dell is used to disappointment. Ever since her dad left, it’s been one let down after another. But no one–not even her best friend–understands all the pain she’s going through. So Dell hides behind self-deprecating jokes and forced smiles.
Then the one person she trusts betrays her. Dell is beyond devastated. Without anyone to turn to for comfort, her depression and self-loathing spin out of control. But just how far will she go to make all of heartbreak and the name-calling stop?
Brenna Yovanoff – Paper Valentine (Crime, Razorbill)
Hannah’s best friend Lillian died six months ago. Now it is high summer and Hannah can no longer pretend everything’s fine. Because Lillian’s ghost still haunts Hannah, and Hannah can’t tell anyone about her. Then a young girl is found murdered in Muncy Park—the first of three who will be killed during the summer’s heat wave. Hysteria grips the city of Ludlow. And Hannah finds herself drawn to Finny Boone, a bad boy and petty criminal. Lillian’s ghost demands that Hannah investigate the mysterious string of murders. And though she would prefer to be with Finny, Hannah enters a world populated by ghost girls and horrifying secrets. Hannah becomes obsessed with the crimes and realizes that only by confronting the killer will she be able to come to terms with her grief, and put the loss of Lillian behind her.
Julianna Baggott – Fuse (Science Fiction, Headline)
After a young Wretch is abducted by the Dome and “cleansed” of her fusings and imperfections, she is only able to repeat the Dome’s latest message: “We want our son returned. This girl is proof that we can save you all. If you ignore our plea, we will kill our hostages one at a time.” Willux will go to any lengths to get his son Partridge back, including murder. Partridge sacrifeces himself and returns, in the hope of taking over the Dome from within, only to uncover more of his father’s chilling, dark secrets.
Robyn Bavati – Dancing in the Dark (Contemporary, Flux)
Ditty Cohen is passionate about ballet–she loves how it feels to stand en pointe, to rise and spin across the room. But her Orthodox Jewish parents want Ditty to focus on the teachings of the Torah and to marry at a young age according to their religious tradition. Although her parents forbid her to take dance lessons, Ditty secretly signs up for ballet and becomes entangled in a web of deceit. As one lie leads to another and another, Ditty knows she must stop dancing, but she can’t abandon the one thing that gives her freedom. She begins to question her faith and everything her parents have taught her, realizing just how much is at stake as her two worlds collide.
Instead she finds Mr Anderson – intelligent, handsome, married Mr Anderson, who just happens to be her chemistry teacher. With a dark past and a difficult family, Jenna is just happy to have someone to protect her, to worry about her, to love her.
But should she be suspicious of Mr Anderson’s reputation for helping ‘damaged’ students? Why is the most popular girl in school suddenly jealous of her? And where is Mr Anderson’s wife?
This is a love story that breaks all the rules, but that won’t stop it breaking your heart.
Gail Carriger – Etiquette & Espionage (Fantasy, Atom)
It’s one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It’s quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to finishing school.
Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners – and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Mrs Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. So she enrols Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.
But Sophronia soon realizes the school is not quite what her mother might have hoped. At Mademoiselle Geraldine’s young ladies learn to finish . . . everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress and etiquette, but they also learn to deal out death, diversion and espionage – in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year’s education.
Miriam Forster – City of a Thousand Dolls (Fantasy, HarperTeen)
Nisha was abandoned at the gates of the City of a Thousand Dolls when she was just a child. Now sixteen, she lives on the grounds of the isolated estate, where orphan girls apprentice as musicians, healers, courtesans, and, if the rumors are true, assassins. Nisha makes her way as Matron’s assistant, her closest companions the mysterious cats that trail her shadow. Only when she begins a forbidden flirtation with the city’s handsome young courier does she let herself imagine a life outside the walls. Until one by one, girls around her start to die.
Before she becomes the next victim, Nisha decides to uncover the secrets that surround the girls’ deaths. But by getting involved, Nisha jeopardizes not only her own future in the City of a Thousand Dolls—but her own life.
It’s Maine. It’s winter. And it’s FREEZING STINKIN’ COLD! Dinah is wildly worried about her best friend, Skint. He won’t wear a coat. Refuses to wear a coat. It’s twelve degrees out, and he won’t wear a coat. So Dinah’s going to figure out how to help. That’s what Dinah does–she helps. But she is too busy trying to help to notice that sometimes, she’s doing more harm than good. Seeing the trees instead of the forest? that’s Dinah.
And Skint isn’t going to be the one to tell her. He’s got his own problems. He’s worried about a little boy whose dad won’t let him visit his mom. He’s worried about an elderly couple in a too-cold house down the street.
But the wedge between what drives Dinah and what concerns Skint is wide enough for a big old slab of ice. Because Skint’s own father is in trouble. Because Skint’s mother refuses to ask for help even though she’s at her breaking point. And because Dinah might just decide to…help. She thinks she’s cracking through a sheet of ice, but what’s actually there is an entire iceberg.
Pantomime by Laura Lam (Fantasy, Strange Chemistry)
R.H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic is the greatest circus of Ellada. Nestled among the glowing blue Penglass – remnants of a mysterious civilisation long gone – are wonders beyond the wildest imagination. It’s a place where anything seems possible, where if you close your eyes you can believe that the magic and knowledge of the vanished Chimeras is still there. It’s a place where anyone can hide.
Iphigenia Laurus, or Gene, the daughter of a noble family, is uncomfortable in corsets and crinoline, and prefers climbing trees to debutante balls. Micah Grey, a runaway living on the streets, joins the circus as an aerialist’s apprentice and soon becomes the circus’s rising star. But Gene and Micah have balancing acts of their own to perform, and a secret in their blood that could unlock the mysteries of Ellada.
Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It’s the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie’s parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the “Norms,” or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it’s not.
In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school—but she never wanted to be a quarterback’s girlfriend. When Addie’s father is asked to consult on a murder in the Compound, she’s unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through . . . and who she can’t live without.
Kristin Bailey – Legacy of the Clockwork Key (Fantasy, Simon Pulse)
When a fire consumes Meg’s home, killing her parents and destroying both her fortune and her future, all she has left is the tarnished pocket watch she rescued from the ashes. But this is no ordinary timepiece. The clock turns out to be a mechanical key–a key that only Meg can use–that unlocks a series of deadly secrets and intricate clues that Meg is compelled to follow.
Meg has uncovered evidence of an elite secret society and a dangerous invention that some will stop at nothing to protect–and that Meg alone can destroy. Together with the handsome stable hand she barely knows but hopes she can trust, Meg is swept into a hidden world of deception, betrayal, and revenge. The clockwork key has unlocked her destiny in this captivating start to a trilogy.
to her family
to her friends
to the world
but still missing
In Liz Coley’s alarming and fascinating psychological mystery, sixteen-year-old Angie Chapman must piece together the story of her kidnapping and abuse. Pretty Girl-13 is a disturbing—and ultimately empowering—page-turner about accepting our whole selves, and the healing power of courage, hope, and love.
Alan Gibbons – Raining Fire (Contemporary, Indigo)
Ethan is a promising footballer, and when he is selected to go on a training programme in the US, he feels sure that he has found his chance to escape the gangs that dominate his streets. But as life spirals out of control for his brother, Alex, and things unexpectedly take a turn for the worse for Ethan, he finds himself drawn into the midst of an explosive feud with the gun at its heart.
Shannon Messenger – Let the Sky Fall (Fantasy, Simon Pulse)
Seventeen-year-old Vane Weston has no idea how he survived the category five tornado that killed his parents. and he has no idea if the beautiful, dark-haired girl who’s swept through his dreams every night since the storm is real. But he hopes she is.
Seventeen-year-old Audra is a sylph, an air elemental. She walks on the wind, can translate its alluring songs, and can even coax it into a weapon with a simple string of commands. She’s also a guardian–Vane’s guardian–and has sworn an oath to protect Vane at all costs. Even if it means sacrificing her own life.
When a hasty mistake reveals their location to the enemy who murdered both of their families, Audra’s forced to help Vane remember who he is. He has a power to claim–the secret language of the West Wind, which only he can understand. But unlocking his heritage will also unlock the memory Audra needs him to forget. And their greatest danger is not the warriors coming to destroy them–but the forbidden romance that’s grown between them.
Julianna Scott – The Holders (Fantasy, Strange Chemistry)
17-year-old Becca has spent her whole life protecting her brother – from their father leaving and from the people who say the voices in his head are unnatural. When two strangers appear with apparent answers to Ryland’s “problem” and details about a school in Ireland where Ryland will not only fit in, but prosper, Becca is up in arms.
She reluctantly agrees to join Ryland on his journey and what they find at St. Brigid’s is a world beyond their imagination. Little by little they piece find out information about their family’s heritage and the legend of the Holder race that decrees Ryland is the one they’ve been waiting for—but, they are all, especially Becca, in for a surprise that will change what they thought they knew about themselves and their kind.
Sherri L. Smith – Orleans (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
After a string of devastating hurricanes and a deadly epidemic of Delta Fever, the Gulf Coast had been quarantined. Now, years later, a new primitive society has been born over the wall.
Fen de la Guerre is living with the O-Positive blood tribe in the Delta when they are ambushed. Left with her tribe leader’s newborn, Fen is determined to get the baby to a better life over the wall before her blood becomes tainted. Fen soon meets Daniel, a scientist from the Outer States researching a cure for Delta Fever. The pair form an unlikely bond and, in the end, may be each other’s last hope for survival.
The final post of my Anticipated Books (Summer/Fall) 2012 series is dedicated to Young Adult fiction. I’ve been working on reading more YA novels and I’ve read some fabulous ones so far this year, so here’s hoping the trend will continue for the second half of 2012! For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. This is the last Anticipated Books, tomorrow I’ll share my Anticipated Reads for the rest of the year.
Jody Lynn Anderson – Tiger Lily (Fantasy, HarperTeen)
Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair. . . .
Fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily doesn’t believe in love stories or happy endings. Then she meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan in the forbidden woods of Neverland and immediately falls under his spell.
Peter is unlike anyone she’s ever known. Impetuous and brave, he both scares and enthralls her. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland’s inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. Soon, she is risking everything—her family, her future—to be with him. When she is faced with marriage to a terrible man in her own tribe, she must choose between the life she’s always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter.
With enemies threatening to tear them apart, the lovers seem doomed. But it’s the arrival of Wendy Darling, an English girl who’s everything Tiger Lily is not, that leads Tiger Lily to discover that the most dangerous enemies can live inside even the most loyal and loving heart.
Lil Chase – Secrets, Lies & Locker 62 (Contemporary, Quercus)
Secrets have a special home at Mount Selwyn High. For years, students have posted their deepest desires and fears in Locker 62.
And then this locker is assigned to new girl Maya. She could use the knowledge to help people.
Or she could use it to become popular.
Maya, who was bullied, who has never been cool, who will do anything to be popular, is now the most powerful girl at school. What will she choose to do next?
Bethany Griffin – Masque of the Red Death (Fantasy, Indigo)
Death is impossible and living is impossibly hard for 17-year-old Araby Worth in this sexy, post-Apocalyptic reimagining of Poe’s gothic horror story of the same name.
It’s 1870 and a deadly virus has decimated the population of North America. Masked corpse-collectors roam the streets, removing the bodies before the contagion can spread. Though Araby tries to escape it all with drugs and parties, even at her most intoxicated she can’t forget her brother’s death – or her guilt for causing it.
But things begin to change when William, the fascinating proprietor of The Debauchery Club where she searches for oblivion, and Elliott, nephew of the insane dictator, enter her life. One wants her heart, and the other her name. Convinced that he has won over his uncle’s army, Elliott believes that having Araby on his arm will charm the populace into supporting a new government. After all, her father is the inventor of the mask which prevents the spread of the plague and saved civilisation – for those who can afford it.
… but Araby’s greatest interest is that his plans will make protective masks available to all citizens and, in particular, to Will’s young siblings, whom she has come to love despite herself. But nothing is what it seems. A new contagion called the Red Death is sweeping the city and a shocking revelation about the origin of the new virus puts Araby’s life in danger.
The mob wants her. The rebels want her. And both boys want her. In this superb two-book series, what and who Araby chooses may just decide the fate of humanity …
Gwenda Bond – Blackwood (Fantasy, Strange Chemistry)
On Roanoke Island, the legend of the 114 people who mysteriously vanished from the Lost Colony hundreds of years ago is just an outdoor drama for the tourists, a story people tell. But when the island faces the sudden disappearance of 114 people now, an unlikely pair of 17-year-olds may be the only hope of bringing them back.
Miranda, a misfit girl from the island’s most infamous family, and Phillips, an exiled teen criminal who hears the voices of the dead, must dodge everyone from federal agents to long-dead alchemists as they work to uncover the secrets of the new Lost Colony. The one thing they can’t dodge is each other.
Libba Bray – The Diviners (Supernatural crime, Atom)
It’s 1920s New York City. It’s flappers and Follies, jazz and gin. It’s after the war but before the depression. And for certain group of bright young things it’s the opportunity to party like never before.
For Evie O’Neill, it’s escape. She’s never fit in in small town Ohio and when she causes yet another scandal, she’s shipped off to stay with an uncle in the big city. But far from being exile, this is exactly what she’s always wanted: the chance to show how thoroughly modern and incredibly daring she can be.
But New York City isn’t about just jazz babies and follies girls. It has a darker side. Young women are being murdered across the city. And these aren’t crimes of passion. They’re gruesome. They’re planned. They bear a strange resemblance to an obscure group of tarot cards. And the New York City police can’t solve them alone.
Evie wasn’t just escaping the stifling life of Ohio, she was running from the knowledge of what she could do. She has a secret. A mysterious power that could help catch the killer – if he doesn’t catch her first.
Kim Curran – Shift (SF, Strange Chemistry)
When your average, 16-year old loser, Scott Tyler, meets the beautiful and mysterious Aubrey Jones, he learns he’s not so average after all. He’s a ‘Shifter’. And that means he has the power to undo any decision he’s ever made. At first, he thinks the power to shift is pretty cool. But as his world quickly starts to unravel around him he realises that each time he uses his power, it has consequences; terrible unforeseen consequences. Shifting is going to get him killed. In a world where everything can change with a thought, Scott has to decide where he stands.
Ellen Hopkins – Tilt (Contemporary, Margaret K. McElderry)
Three teens, three stories—all interconnected through their parents’ family relationships. As the adults pull away, caught up in their own dilemmas, the lives of the teens begin to tilt….
Mikayla, almost eighteen, is over-the-top in love with Dylan, who loves her back jealously. But what happens to that love when Mikayla gets pregnant the summer before their senior year—and decides to keep the baby?
Shane turns sixteen that same summer and falls hard in love with his first boyfriend, Alex, who happens to be HIV positive. Shane has lived for four years with his little sister’s impending death. Can he accept Alex’s love, knowing that his life, too, will be shortened?
Harley is fourteen—a good girl searching for new experiences, especially love from an older boy. She never expects to hurdle toward self-destructive extremes in order to define who she is and who she wants to be.
Martine Leavitt – My Book of Life by Angel (Contemporary, Margaret Ferguson Books)
When sixteen-year-old Angel meets Call at the mall, he buys her meals and says he loves her, and he gives her some candy that makes her feel like she can fly. Pretty soon she’s addicted to his candy, and she moves in with him. As a favor, he asks her to hook up with a couple of friends of his, and then a couple more. Now Angel is stuck working the streets at Hastings and Main, a notorious spot in Vancouver, Canada, where the girls turn tricks until they disappear without a trace, and the authorities don’t care. But after her friend Serena disappears, and when Call brings home a girl who is even younger and more vulnerable than her to learn the trade, Angel knows that she and the new girl have got to find a way out.
Gennifer Albin – Crewel (Fantasy, MacMillan)
Incapable. Awkward. Artless.
That’s what the other girls whisper behind her back. But sixteen year-old Adelice Lewys has a secret: she wants to fail.
Gifted with the ability to weave time with matter, she’s exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in the world of Arras, being chosen as a Spinster is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to embroider the very fabric of life. But if controlling what people eat, where they live and how many children they have is the price of having it all, Adelice isn’t interested.
Not that her feelings matter, because she slipped and wove a moment at testing, and they’re coming for her—tonight.
Now she has one hour to eat her mom’s overcooked pot roast. One hour to listen to her sister’s academy gossip and laugh at her Dad’s stupid jokes. One hour to pretend everything’s okay. And one hour to escape.
Because once you become a Spinster, there’s no turning back.
Katherine Applegate & Michael Grant – Eve and Adam (SF, Macmillan)
Sixteen-year-old Evening Spiker lives an affluent life in San Francisco with her mother, EmmaRose, a successful geneticist and owner of Spiker Biotech. Sure, Evening misses her father who died mysteriously, but she’s never really questioned it. Much like how she’s never stopped to think how off it is that she’s never been sick. That is, until she’s struck by a car and is exposed to extensive injuries. Injuries that seem to be healing faster than physically possible.
While recuperating in Spiker Biotech’s lush facilities, she meets Solo Plissken, a very attractive, if off-putting boy her age who spent his life at Spiker Biotech. Like Evening, he’s never questioned anything… until now. Solo drops hints to Evening that something isn’t right, and Emma-Rose may be behind it. Evening puts this out of her mind and begins her summer internship project: To simulate the creation of the perfect boy. With the help of Solo, Evening uncovers secrets so big they could change the world completely.
Cassandra Rose Clark – The Assassin’s Curse (Fantasy, Strange Chemistry)
Ananna of the Tanarau abandons ship when her parents try to marry her off to an allying pirate clan. But that only prompts the scorned clan to send an assassin after her. And when Ananna faces him down one night, armed with magic she doesn’t really know how to use, she accidentally activates a curse binding them together. To break the curse, Ananna and the assassin must complete three impossible tasks—all while grappling with evil wizards, floating islands, haughty manticores, runaway nobility, strange magic, and the growing romantic tension between them.
Sean Cummings – Poltergeeks (Fantasy, Strange Chemistry)
15-year-old Julie Richardson is about to learn that being the daughter of a witch isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. When she and her best friend, Marcus, witness an elderly lady jettisoned out the front door of her home, it’s pretty obvious to Julie there’s a supernatural connection.
In fact, there’s a whisper of menace behind increasing levels of poltergeist activity all over town. After a large-scale paranormal assault on Julie’s high school, her mother falls victim to the spell Endless Night. Now it’s a race against time to find out who is responsible or Julie won’t just lose her mother’s soul, she’ll lose her mother’s life.
Jonathan L. Howard – Katya’s World (SF, Strange Chemistry)
The distant and unloved colony world of Russalka has no land, only the raging sea. No clear skies, only the endless storm clouds. Beneath the waves, the people live in pressurised environments and take what they need from the boundless ocean. It is a hard life, but it is theirs and they fought a war against Earth to protect it. But wars leave wounds that never quite heal, and secrets that never quite lie silent. Katya Kuriakova doesn’t care much about ancient history like that, though. She is making her first submarine voyage as crew; the first nice, simple journey of what she expects to be a nice, simple career. There is nothing nice and simple about the deep black waters of Russalka, however; soon she will encounter pirates and war criminals, see death and tragedy at first hand, and realise that her world’s future lies on the narrowest of knife edges. For in the crushing depths lies a sleeping monster, an abomination of unknown origin, and when it wakes, it will seek out and kill every single person on the planet.
Ingrid Paulson – Valkyrie Rising (Fantasy, HarperTeen)
Nothing ever happens in Norway. But at least Ellie knows what to expect when she visits her grandmother: a tranquil fishing village and long, slow summer days. And maybe she’ll finally get out from under the shadow of her way-too-perfect big brother, Graham, while she’s there.
What Ellie doesn’t anticipate is Graham’s infuriating best friend, Tuck, tagging along for the trip. Nor did she imagine boys going missing amid rumors of impossible kidnappings. Least of all does she expect something powerful and ancient to awaken in her and that strange whispers would urge Ellie to claim her place among mythological warriors. Instead of peace and quiet, there’s suddenly a lot for a girl from L.A. to handle on a summer sojourn in Norway! And when Graham vanishes, it’s up to Ellie—and the ever-sarcastic, if undeniably alluring Tuck—to uncover the truth about all the disappearances and thwart the nefarious plan behind them.
Deadly legends, hidden identities, and tentative romance swirl together in one girl’s unexpectedly-epic coming of age.
Annabel Pitcher – Ketchup Dreams (Contemporary, Indigo)
Fifteen-year-old Zoe has a secret – a dark and terrible secret that she can’t confess to anyone she knows. But then one day she hears of a criminal, Stuart Harris, locked up on death row in Texas. Like Zoe, Stuart is no stranger to secrets. Or lies. Or murder.
Full of heartache yet humour, Zoe tells her story in the only way she can – in letters to the man in prison in America. Armed with a pen, Zoe takes a deep breath, eats a jam sandwich, and begins her tale of love and betrayal.
Jane doesn’t remember being hit by a car and left for dead. But, stuck in the hospital, she realizes that her friends’ stories and her memories of what happened that night aren’t adding up.
And now, the only thing she does know is that one of her friends isn’t so friendly.
One of them was trying to kill her.
One of them still is.
Rosebush is a lovely book written from a great premise; it’s a murder mystery in which its intended victim is the investigator. But it’s hard investigating something if you can’t even recall what happened. Still, Jane knows she has to try and try she does. I loved the set-up of this book moving in a circle as it does. It starts off with a prologue, a scene that we’ll later return to in the book and then move beyond to the eventual conclusion. In between these scenes, Jane tries to regain her memories and to puzzle out what happens to her, and along the way we not only get flashbacks of the night of the accident, but also of Jane’s earlier life. These give an insight to how she got where she was the night of the accident and create several layers to the narrative.
Jane is a great protagonist, though at times I wanted to shake her! Her need for validation, her need to belong and her people-pleaser ways are probably recognisable to anyone who remembers their teenage years to a greater or lesser degree (spoiler: in my case greater), which at once creates a point of connection, but for a more adult reader also of frustration, as – hopefully – an adult will have moved past that painful stage of needing to be liked or otherwise you’ll just die. We know, or are at least supposed to know, that it isn’t important what THEY think, it’s important what you want and what makes you happy. And this is exactly one of the main themes running through the book, Jane’s realisation that she has to think for herself and follow her own dreams, instead of trying to please everyone around her. The main catalyst for this is her relationship with David. He’s a dreamboat, handsome, popular and a musician of the ‘tortured poet’-variety and Jane still can’t believe he’s hers. This blinds her to the fact that David is incredibly controlling and definitely not a good guy and she acquiesces to his every wish. Their interactions made me wince every time and I just wanted Jane to wake up and smell the coffee and realise that this was not okay!
The story also dealt with the fact that often the worst scars are those that are hidden, especially the ones we hide from ourselves. This is one of the deeper layers of the narrative, dealing not so much with the accident, as with Jane’s coping with the loss of her father, moving to Jersey, and losing her best friend in Illinois, Bonnie. I loved this aspect of the novel, the way that all that had gone before influenced current events and negated Jane’s rather naive idea articulated early in the book to Bonnie: that when they move to a new school for freshman year, they can start over and be who they want to be. I think everyone thinks that at some point, when they go to secondary school, to university or move to a new town. I know I certainly did when I moved out to go to university. But as most of us discover, the book shows that you can leave behind a situation and change your looks and behaviour, but you can’t leave yourself behind. Who you are and who you were, move with you and unless you are at peace with your past, you can’t move on from that.
There is enough of the unlikeable about Jane to keep the reader’s mind open to the fact that it might just all be in her head. Which causes her to seem an unreliable narrator for much of the book. Especially as she starts to doubt herself and seems ready to accept that some of the things that happen to her are just really bad pranks. And I have to say, being a teen is a cutthroat business in this book, at least it is if you want to be in the in-crowd. While I never really believed Jane was hallucinating everything, there were a couple of times I was doubting right along with her, especially as her nurse and her doctors kept assuring her it was all due to to her pain medication.
The surrounding cast is amazing. I Loved Pete, the hot, flirty orderly and Jane’s little sister Annie. I loved the latter’s ‘wise beyond her years’-outlook on life and the way she interpreted between Jane and her mum. But most of all, I loved the three Mustkateers, Jane, Langley and Kate. I loved their bond and their friendship, it’s the kind of friendship you look upon from the outside wishing you had a similar one. I so felt for Jane’s distress at the thought that this bond wasn’t real, that she’d lose one of the pillars she built her security on, the one she thought would keep her from being alone. But this was not the only relationship that teeters, as Jane examines her memory flashes and tries to puzzle out what happens, she starts to doubt every relationship she has, from her mum, to her friends, to her boyfriend, they are all suspect. And when it all comes crashing down, what is left standing is pretty amazing. The big reveal caught me completely off-guard as I totally hadn’t seen it coming.
Rosebush is a great book. I couldn’t put it down. Apart from the well-plotted story, the writing is lovely, with beautiful, cinematic descriptions and some very funny, snarky dialogues. If you like a good mystery and YA book, Rosebush is is definitely worth a read and one I’ll reread just to figure out how Ms Jaffe did it, what clues I missed the first time round.