Thoughts on books, family, and life in one impressive package.

Book Cover Image: Wake by Lisa McMannTitle: Wake
Author: Lisa McMann
ISBN: 9781416974475
No. of Pages: 224

“For seventeen-year-old Janie, getting sucked into other people’s dreams is getting old. Especially the falling dreams, the naked-but-nobody- notices dreams, and the sex-crazed dreams. Janie’s seen enough fantasy booty to last her a lifetime.

She can’t tell anybody about what she does — they’d never believe her, or worse, they’d think she’s a freak. So Janie lives on the fringe, cursed with an ability she doesn’t want and can’t control.

Then she falls into a gruesome nightmare, one that chills her to the bone. For the first time, Janie is more than a witness to someone else’s twisted psyche. She is a participant….”

Thoughts: Being able to fall into people’s dreams, to see their deepest and darkest desires, is not something I would wish on an enemy. Yet Janie handles herself with aplomb, making Wake an enjoyable read. Lisa McMann’s signature style allows the reader to get a good understanding of Janie and her struggle with her power without bogging down into details or overly descriptive passages; this also makes Wake a very fast read. Janie is a fun character with a very different problem, one that makes it difficult for her to navigate her way through the tricky halls of high school. Of all the superpowers to have, Janie’s is probably one of the worst ones. A reader is immediately drawn to her fragility but her willingness to fight to control her powers. Wake is not necessarily a departure from similar stories but is enhanced by Ms. McMann’s ability to weave a story.
Acknowledgements: Mine. All mine.

Book Cover Image: Envy by Gregg OlsenTitle: Envy
Author: Gregg Olsen
ISBN: 9781402789571
No. of Pages: 304

“Crime lives — and dies — in the deceptively picture-perfect town of Port Gamble (aka “Empty Coffin”), Washington. Evil lurks and strange things happen — and 15-year-olds Hayley and Taylor Ryan secretly use their wits and their telepathic “twin-sense” to uncover the truth about the town’s victims and culprits. Envy, the series debut, involves the mysterious death of the twins’ old friend, Katelyn. Was it murder? Suicide? An accident? Hayley and Taylor are determined to find out — and as they investigate, they stumble upon a dark truth that is far more disturbing than they ever could have imagined.”

Thoughts: Billed as a true crime mystery, Envy definitely has a “ripped from the headlines” feel with a slightly supernatural element. Unfortunately, for such a tragic story with very tangible motives and actions, the twins’ telepathy is seemingly out of place. It is almost as if Olsen was trying to attract readers specifically drawn to the paranormal genre and felt obliged to add this plot device, even though the story does not need it. While enjoyable, I am getting tired of the paranormal plot device and wish YA authors would do something unique by not including it in their stories. Envy would have been a perfect story for this bit of originality. What exists instead is a creative story with an all-too-familiar otherworldly element that feels like a crutch more than a necessary narrative element. Envy is enjoyable but does nothing to separate itself from the hundreds of other YA stories with a paranormal aspect.
Acknowledgements: Thank you to the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association for my copy.

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