Whatchyareading's Reviews > Harbinger

Harbinger by Sara Wilson Etienne
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's review
Mar 20, 2012

bookshelves: debut-author, caitlin, dystopian, young-adult
Read in February, 2012

I’m not sure what about this book made me want to read it. It certainly wasn’t the cover. This is one of those books that I had to make myself read despite the cover. Possibly I had the impression from a description that it took place at a boarding school and was about kids with powers. Kids with powers at a boarding school is one of my all time favourite tropes I will read almost anything with this set up.

Plus there’s that random line, “her only comfort the bones of dead animals.” Like…what??? So, yeah, I needed this book. And the very nice people at Penguin Canada were awesome enough to pass it along.

So, first of all Holbrook Academy is not a boarding school. It’s more like an asylum. For troubled teenagers. With guards and strict teachers that make you call them Uncle and Aunt. And there’s solitary confinement. Basically it’s a place run by crazy people that think they are helping crazy people who aren’t actually crazy.

Plus, outside of the “school” is basically a dystopian setting. Like, really. People live in locked communities, and there’s all these shortages and basically everyone is trying to delude themselves into thinking that the world isn’t ending. This was my favourite thing about the setting. I loved that it had this almost typical dystopian setting and somewhere else you could imagine a group of kids getting together to fight some sort of evil overlord, but that’s not what this story was about. All that dystopia was in the background. It was a nice change from a lot of books that I’ve been reading lately.

Also, there was a lot of mystery and distrust between all the characters. You never quite knew who was doing what or why. Or what was up with this crazy trail of clues there were following. The mystery was well done, and I liked how it was all solved in the end.

I liked the main character, Faye, she definitely had problems and didn’t have any idea what she was doing or what was going on but just kept trying to struggle through it. I liked that she didn’t just take everything lying down. That she was actively trying to solve the mystery of her past and why there was so much attention on her.

The other characters I found were a little flat, or not all there. I wish we’d had more of them at any rate. Especially Kel. I liked him, but I feel like we didn’t get to know him as well as I wanted to.

Other than that, I really enjoyed this book. So, even if the cover completely turns you off, like it does me, I urge you to give it a try anyway. The cover makes sense with the story. I promise.

Reviewed at WhatchYAreading on February 1, 2012.

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