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January Black

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  88 Ratings  ·  43 Reviews
Sixteen-year-old genius Matty Ducayn is the son of The Hill’s commandant. As such, he’s expected to conform to a strict, unspoken code of conduct. Small acts of defiance over years—such as walking on the grass—have earned him a reputation for being unruly. When sarcastic test answers finally get Matty expelled from school, King Hadrian offers him a diploma if he can answer ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published January 15th 2013 by Crescent Moon Press (first published January 12th 2013)
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Apr 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
So, it took me an unusually long time to read this book. I couldn’t tell you why. It’s fantastic! It never lost my interest. I guess other things (like my new job and the kids’ soccer commitments) just got in the way. Regardless, don’t let my slowness in reading January Black by Wendy S. Russo deter you from reading it. It is a fantastic book, really – perhaps my subconscious was trying to savor the journey? Whatever it is, I closed the book with a smile on my face and five stars in my mind.

Feb 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone
Fall Into a Different World

The title of my review says it all. I didn't know what to expect with January Black, but after reading a few pages I was lost. I loved every minute of my read. Wendy is a smart writer whose characters are diverse and well flushed out so I can see them when I close my eyes. I'd love to go on about the wonderful little nuggets of clues that Wendy leaves for the reader as they progress through the story, but I don't want to give anything away. I will say that she trusts h
Dec 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Russo's January Black is a mysterious woven tapestry that is one part mystery, one part fantasy, one part science fiction, and one part romance. It is like a jewel that keeps twinkling different colors right before your eyes.

Matty is simply charming in his love for learning and alwys reaching for more, even if it means sudden death.

Iris is sweet in her love for Matty and willing to do anything to try to save him.

The mystery and haunting forboding of the simple question, "What is January Black?"
Jan 22, 2013 added it  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: signed-by-author
I am the author. :)
Raina {The LUV'NV}

WARNING: Review contains no spoilers or hints to the story whatsoever. It consists mainly of: fan-girling, a loss for words, arm-flailing, and bowing to the awesomeness that is this book and its author.Okay, I'm being a little dramatic. But the book was so good I made a new rating on my blog, and to give credit due to January Black and Wendy Russo, I will attempt to get a grip and write a coherent review. Here we go:

January Black is what great books are made of. Like life, it's about the p
As seen on The Quiet Concert

“Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, sir. I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death." ~Patrick Henry

Let’s see what I can say about this book… First things first, this is not an easy read and I don’t think this book is for everyone. The pace is a far cry from your typical YA read and may very well test your patience. The story is slowly developed and the clu
Apr 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing

"The world is a different place when you fall in love... when you have something to lose."

I really must begin with the fact that I liked it very much. So much that I did anything (even skipping work) to read it.

Plot and development:
In fact there are several stories. We have a main one, a couple apparently secondary, one "objective", and several other tertiary. How and when these stories will intertwine and mutually determine are the novel and unexpected elements that will change the course of e
Apr 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
January Black by Wendy Russo is an interesting futuristic story. The book takes place in the future but with weird resemblances to the past (like class systems). The story focuses on Matty Ducayne, a young man who is rebellious and gets expelled from school. The King, Hadrian, makes a deal with him that if he can answer 1 question he will
receive his Master's. That question is "What is January Black?". The question initially sounds very simple to answer but Matty discovers that it's not a simple
Feb 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Set in a world that is similar to our own, “January Black,” by Wendy S. Russo, is an intriguing mystery, a sweet love story and has a twist at the end that will bring a smile to your face! Young Matty Ducayne has caught the eye of King Hadrian with his brilliant mind, intense curiosity and his ability to think outside of the box. Hadrian gives Matty a deceptively difficult question to answer: What is January Black? Matty has no time constraints, but there is only one correct answer and with the ...more
Dorine White
Apr 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
The Story-
16 year old Matty is a genius. So much so that he is kicked out of school for being ahead of his teachers. He gets a second chance when King Hadrian asks him to work on a special project to earn a master's degree. The project- What is January Black?

Common knowledge holds that January Black is one of the ships that brought settlers to live in the kingdom. But, that is not what the king is after. There is more to the story, a deep, dark secret. Matty's search leads him into forbidden te
Dena (Batch of Books)
Apr 03, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya
Judging by the cover and description, I had expected this to be either historical fiction or fantasy. It is neither. It's dystopian.

I enjoyed the story and the mystery surrounding the question of January Black. The world of Columbia was built and described in great detail. The intricate plot line held many unexpected twists and turns that kept me interested. I did start to lose interest toward the end of the book, however. I felt like it took too long to wrap the story up.

The romance between Mat
Christine Ashworth
Jan 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I lost a few hours as I read this book. It's a Young Adult novel that is refreshingly and astonishingly intelligent, and the love story is perfectly played out.

Set in a world that is similar to our own but far removed, with a King who leads the people and set mostly in the royal city of Aventine, Matty is given a problem to solve. What was January Black? It takes him two years to solve this question; in that time, we as readers get to know this fascinating world, and delve along with Matty into
Jan 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The intriguing title is at the heart of this mystery, as sixteen year old Matty tries to answer a question for the king and earn his Master's. I loved Russo's intelligent style, her intricate world-building and characters who seemed to leap off the page. There is so much rich detail on every level: story, plot and character. I can't say enough good things about a book that touched me on so many levels.

I was thoroughly drawn in immediately and was sorry when the book ended. I fell in love with th
Shawna Romkey
Dec 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
I love a book that keeps me turning the pages, and it takes a certain type of talented writer to take me to that place. I won't repeat the plot details here as others have already done that. I will say, however, that this book has depth, strong, developed characters I could relate to, an unpredictable and exciting plot that kept me on the edge of my seat, and an ending that made me want to read more from this author.

This is an intelligent, well-written book that will appeal to those who like pu
Joanne Brothwell
Feb 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The first thing I noticed about January Black was the stunning writing. Wendy Russo’s ability to paint a richly detailed world is truly dazzling. Matty is the perfect protagonist—curious and smart with just the right mix of teenage rebellion. Iris is a great counterpart; and I enjoyed seeing their relationship unfold.

There are lessons to be learned in this novel, a social commentary that is masterfully woven throughout the gorgeous prose. Highly recommended!
Mar 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: blog-tour
I received an ebook copy in exchange for an honest review.

To sum this book up in one word is probably impossible. To sum it up in a few: one of the best books I've read this year!

Matty Ducayn is a troublemaker who has been expelled from school. King Hadrian Steer is well aware of Matty's tendency to defy authority and gives him an offer the inquisitive brilliant Matty can't refuse. Now given access to the King's library, Matty goes on the adventure of a lifetime in search of what the mysterious
Apr 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
I just recently finished reading January Black, received from the author for an honest review, and my head is still spinning. So much to wrap my mind around and I'm loving every moment just thinking about it. I haven't read such a thought provoking book of fiction in a long time.

Strong characters, strange gadgets, leaders, secrets, betrayals, love, hope, disappointment, intrigue, leading up to the answer of what was January Black and proceeding to a whole other story of who is Matty Ducayn.

I rea
Mar 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Marisa by: I am a Reader Blog Tours
The cover of this book is what initially attracted me to signing up for the book tour. They say “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover” but in this case I am happy I did! This book sucks you in really quickly right from the first few pages and keeps you wondering what January Black actually is.

This book is well written with few grammar and spelling mistakes. It does have several swears and some YA romance but it is in no way offensive or over the top and had I not been reading it for the purpose of a
Bee {Quite the Novel Idea}
*I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.*

I really liked this book. I really did. It was original and I loved the mystery and the riddle Matty has to solve and I loved discovering it with him. This was a pretty good book.

So this is the story of Matty. He's really smart. Seriously. I had a headache when he was talking or thinking smart things. Wendy did her research on that department. I liked the world she created and the references to this time. You
Christina M Condy
This book was totally unexpected. I read the summary, it looked interesting so I signed up for the tour and asked for a review copy. Boy was I surprised!

The twists and turns this book take will keep you reading. Little hints dropped here and there, to keep your attention. Did I know what was going to happen in this book? Yes sometimes there were just too many little hints to make it almost obvious. But I'm good at solving puzzles so that could be why. However, that being said it still managed to
Katie O'Sullivan
Jan 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya
Matty is a sixteen-year-old genius who is somewhat of a contradiction. He thinks in numbers and understands the complex new technology that is a given on this world, but also loves the smell of old books and appreciates the beauty of “old world” items. He bristles at the rules imposed by his strict class-based society and questions all authority, but also has trouble relating to others. Until he meets Iris.

Iris is also sixteen and also full of contradictions. While she works as a gardener on The
Heather Wood
Feb 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I love when I come across a book that has the ability to not only surprise me, but surpass my expectations completely. January Black did this and I was so glad that I decided to venture out of my reading comfort zone and take part in the blog tour for this amazing book.

The premise of the novel sounds simple enough. King Hadrian gives young student Mattie a challenge in order to earn a Masters degree: What was January Black? Readers are then taken on a journey as Matty attempts to answer the King
Dec 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: r2r-challenge
Fantastic! Intelligent! Sweet! & Well written!

A novel should make you feel something. It should spark your imagination and grab your heartstrings. January Black does not disappoint and has so much more to offer than the casual page turner! It is a thought provoking puzzle intertwined with history, sweet first love, family secrets, and political dissension.

Matty Ducayn is an upper-class teen in the city of Aventine. After being expelled from school for one-upping his instructor, he is given a
Krystal Wade
Dec 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
I've thought about this book for days, now, and it just won't leave me alone. You see, January Black is haunting. The story takes place in a futuristic society where you're never really sure if Matty and everyone around him are on a different planet, in a dystopian future, or what.

It's kind of confusing, and that's half the fun.

Matty is a troublemaker. Well, his teachers think so anyway. I think they're just jealous because he's smarter than they are—which is why they expel him from Regent schoo
I LOVED this book! I only gave it 4 out of 5 stars because I had a lot of trouble really getting into the book. It took me a few chapters to really be excited about it. Also, the tech-talk confused me. I had no idea what Matty was talking about a lot of the time. Otherwise, this book was phenomenal. I loved the idea of January Black being more than just what the public thought it was. The puzzle was really exciting to work through with Matty and Iris. All the frustration they had to go through a ...more
Apr 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I fell in love with this book on the very first page. The story sucks you in and doesn’t release you till the end. Russo did a fantastic job of world-building; there’s so much detail and uniqueness to her setting that it’s probably one of my favorite things about January Black. That, and the mystery that puzzles the reader just as much as it puzzles the characters. Soooo many YA “mysteries” turn out to be bland and predictable, thus I was overjoyed when January Black proved to be something entir ...more
Jessica Hawke
Jan 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wendy Russo’s January Black is a fascinating, unusual read. Set in a world that is at once distant and quite close to our own, January Black is full of questions whose answers lead to more questions for the main character, Matty. Charged with answering a question – what was January Black? – young Matty discovers a tangled web of secrets beneath the glittering surface of the world of Columbia. Along the way, he meets a girl who throws him for a loop.

The story is refreshingly intelligent, and asks
Deborah Bean
Dec 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I received this book free in exchange for an honest review.

January Black is a YA book that will capture the attention of anyone reading it. For those that like riddles, they will love the single question that Matty has to answer in order to get a Masters degree. His growing feelings for Iris actually help to calm his ever active brain. This book is filled with political intrigue and the beginning of teenage romance. These two things would not usually work together in a novel, however Wendy Russ
Apr 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Review of January Black by Wendy Russo Review written by – Alexis O’Shell

I have to say when I first started reading this book it really confused me. The further into I got I was able to keep up a little better and I realized what a wonderful romance was blooming throughout the pages!

I don’t normally read a lot of books where it is in the male’s point of view but I really just loved Matty. He was charming, funny and so sweet, and even though I am a girl I could still relate to his feelings. As
Review to follow soon, but for now I'll say I LOVED THIS BOOK! It doesn't quite reach the 5-star level for me, for reasons I will explain, but it was a tremendous novel from a small publisher! Ms. Russo has major talent - I was consumed by this book for the four days or so that I read it! And despite seeing at least one grammatical/technical/formatting error per page on my Kindle, I did not stop to mark any of them. Not even ONE! I was so caught up in the story that, while I notice the missing w ...more
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Wendy S. Russo got her start writing in the sixth grade. That story involved a talisman with crystals that had to be found and assembled before bad things happened, and dialog that read like classroom roll call. Since then, she’s majored in journalism (for one semester), published poetry, and entertained her friends with Star Wars fan fiction and epic fantasy novels. Her debut novel, January Black ...more
More about Wendy S. Russo

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“How often have wonder and curiosity led men toward certain death? How many men have been condemned for turning right instead of left?” 6 likes
“The journey prints itself indelibly on the seeker.” 3 likes
More quotes…