So. This book was not about what I thought it was about. I mean, YES, there are seventeen-year-old girls and they've gone missing and they're talkingSo. This book was not about what I thought it was about. I mean, YES, there are seventeen-year-old girls and they've gone missing and they're talking to seventeen-year-old Lauren. But this isn't a paranormal, per se. Well, it could be. But it's so much more than that with it's tangled web of genres and directional possibilities. This is, in fact, my very favorite kind of book. And 17 & GONE is officially one of my favorite books ever.
Let me backtrack a minute. Think about all those paranormal/supernatural books you've read (or at least heard about). Now imagine, if you will, what would happen if the freaky things that happened in those books happened in real life. You'd probably be freaking out, and you may never fully recover from those experiences, right? Say word got out that you claimed to be dating a vegetarian vampire. Maybe you'd be dragged off in a straightjacket, yeah? At the very least people might cross the street when they saw you coming, because you, my dear, would be considered certifiable. And on top of that, you might start wondering if maybe you weren't, in fact, losing your mind.
Well, that's the realistic sort of path 17 & GONE takes us on while treading on the edges of a very magical one. 17 & GONE is part psychological, part magic, and in every way a mystery you simply must unravel, no matter how unnerving it is. And it is at times ridiculously unnerving. Nova Ren Suma immerses you so completely into Lauren's character that you begin to forget she's not real--and that you're not her. You get turned upside down, seeing and feeling the world as she's seeing and feeling it, so that when she's certain she's inside the magic, you're certain of it, and when she questions her own sanity, you begin to question it. When she's curious, no matter how scary the situation might be to an outsider, you feel curiosity more than fear. When she's terrified, no matter how normal a situation might seem to an outsider, you feel the prickle of goosebumps and the intense need to turn the page to find a way out. And when she's with her boyfriend...ah well, you doubt, you wish, you push away, you want.
And while you're feeling so much through Lauren, you're just as invested in all of Lauren's lost girls as she is, and you begin to want desperately for them to be found. All of these girls with their distinct personalities and stories worm under your skin and make you feel so much, and draw you to the pleas of other lost girls. And when the danger turns on Lauren and it becomes clear she may also disappear, you find yourself completely incapable of setting down the book until you know exactly what's to become of her.
17 & GONE takes you on a remarkable journey through magic and psychosis and fearful possibility; through desperate longings and the twists and turns our brains will take to find fulfillment of those longings. A work of consummate skill, 17 & GONE is a beautiful, chilling story filled with evocative imagery and thought-provoking, often rhythmic prose. Its arrestive voice and masterful use of dialogue captures the complexity of human interaction and need and leaves no doubt you're entirely inside the mind of a seventeen-year-old girl who's experiencing something truly extraordinary and terrifying. Altogether, 17 & GONE redefines what it means to be lost and will leave you questioning what it means to be found....more
SKYLARK is not at all what I expected. Not to say that I actually had any expectations, other than it would be good, but I came away from it with thatSKYLARK is not at all what I expected. Not to say that I actually had any expectations, other than it would be good, but I came away from it with that breathless feeling you get when a book hits you just right. Because you never know how well you'll like a book, really. (Except maybe some blockbuster everyone raves about, and even then you might end up like, "Pshaw, whatev. So he sparkled.")* But like most books that stun you when you're finished--you know, leaving you staring into a blank space not quite back to reality yet--it's really tough to express just why it was so right for you. I suppose, for me, it's because this is just the sort of book I would want to write as well as read. It has all those rich, bookish elements that make you call in sick to work or school just so you can stay in that fictional world of awesome for just a little bit longer.
On a more general plane, this book is a genre buster. Fantasy, sure. Science Fiction, too. Dystopian(ish). Romance. Mystery. A touch of steampunk. Oh, and YA. But it doesn't read like typical YA. Not that typical YA is a bad thing, or that there's even such a thing as typical YA (seriously, there probably isn't). But this is, I don't know. Glorious? Like Daughter of Smoke and Bone kind of amazing, pulling together these genres into a creation all of its own. And the magic--oh my word, the MAGIC. I was blown away. So freaking original how magic works in this world. I'm not sure if I can say this even, because it's not in the summary. So I'm treading carefully here, people. I don't want to spoil it for you. But...imagine a world where magic is everywhere. Where everyone is born a wizard of sorts. Where there are no "muggles." That fate more unimaginable than death? Yeah. Lark's role as a tiny cog in the larger clockwork of the city plays into that whole magic thing. That's what I mean about the mesh of genres--it's an incredible interweaving of fantasy and science fiction--a blend of magic and clockworks and the unfolding of a great mystery with twists that will knock you cross-eyed. You just won't see it coming.
And can I just say...the romance will make you sigh ever so dreamily. But not because it's that love-at-first-sight unrealistic kind of love. But that Catherine and Heathcliff kind of love where your souls, no matter what they are made of, are quite the same. The kind where no matter how much you turn away to save yourself, you must always turn back or risk losing who you are. Sigh sigh SIGH. It's beautiful. But real, too. As real as love can be in a fantasy. And that, folks, is because the writing is so spectacular full of rich details, characters so genuine with complicated ranges of emotions and vivid settings that feel just familiar enough to ground the reader. The thing that sucks, of course, is that just like in Wuthering Heights you have no idea how it will end up for the lovebirds. But that's what makes it so great, too. The end is not a sure thing, other than it will end when the pages stop. You'll just have to read to the end to see how it all turns out for Lark and--wait. I just realized there's no romance mentioned in the summary. Well. There is a dude, FYI. Hope I didn't just ruin that for you.
Ultimately, though, it's Lark's story. She's the hero, and a tough chick at that. Well, she doesn't start out tough. But she'll get there. Man, I love that about this book. No one's born kickass, you know. Stuff has to happen to make you steel. SKYLARK demonstrates just that. But even better? It illustrates that you can fight like a boss no matter how fragile you are. SKYLARK is a book that will stay with you, a book you'll want to come back to over and over--and find something new every time. ...more