Genre: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal
Source: Gifted for honest review
It's the first day of school at prestigious Solstice High. Seniors Matt, Rochelle, Daphne and Jonas each have a big surprise waiting for them. When the four friends undergo a freak accident, they begin to develop superhuman abilities and come to realize that all is not as it seems within the bleak walls of their high school. While dealing with the day-to-day challenges of being teenagers, they must also confront their sinister principal, Mr. Devlin, who seems to have more than just education on his agenda.
Fast-paced and Supernatural PackedI received this book from the author for an honest review.
This book dives into 4 different POV's for the main characters through rotating chapters. Matt is the first character that we get to see. He is an out-of-the closet gay teenager that hates math. Daphne was the next chapter's narrator and she is a bit on the grumpy side, intelligent with red hair and emerald eyes. Rochelle followed next, and this girl is fiesty. She is a bomshell and is the Queen B of the school. Jonas is the last in the round robin and is the smart, good-looking, straight-laced jock who is also the leader of the little group that they all look to for direction. In all groups of friends, there are always duos that are closest and in this case, there is Matt and Daphne, and Jonas and Rochelle. Vartparonian did an exceptional job of rounding out all the characters in this book, creating extensive personalities and voices. They are all FLAWED. I love that these characters each have good and bad in qualities in them and they are very well-developed.
The setting is the high school that they all attend and it quickly becomes a surreal world where so much is going on underneath the surface. The principal is this wonderfully evil villain that is talked about more than he's actually in person, but this creates an air of mystery and more fear surrounding his character. This group stumbles upon supernatural powers like I've never seen before. Some are more normal, but with the way they are delivered and expounded upon, they are unique to this story and these characters. I enjoyed the way they each handled becoming supernatural in their own ways and yet still remained connected as a group of friends.
There were very mysterious characters that I didn't know whether were good or bad. There were twists and turns where the ones that I thought were good turned bad and vice versa. This plot was fantastic and well-delivered. The climax was fast-paced and action packed. I often didn't know what was going to happen, and had to keep turning the pages to find out.
The BadThis is a YA book aimed at teenagers where the main characters are teenagers in high school. There are many instances of the main characters smoking, drinking, being promiscuous and doing drugs. Generally, when I see these topics brought up in literature, the characters feel a need to change this negative behavior because the outcome is always bad. While I did have to watch one of the girls get her first kiss with the crush in the book after having vomited (GROSS by the way) from drinking too much, there was never a feeling of wanting to change any of these habits, so the moral in the story was lost on me. The one character that didn't employ any of these behaviors that was in effect the 'leader' of the group was constantly teased by the rest of the characters for being a prude. Not setting a very good example in my opinion. As I said earlier, I really appreciated that these characters were flawed, what got to me was that there was this lack of growth with these negative aspects.
Then there was talk of suicide, past attempts as well as one of the characters actually committing suicide in the pages of this book. While I will go ahead and spoil the story here and say that the outcome turned out ok, that is precisely the problem. There was absolutely no remorse. Everything turned out ok, but there were no feelings of, "I wouldn't do that again." As a matter of fact, I feel that they would've done the exact same thing if presented with the same situation. Again, Vartparonian had the chance to use his voice to let the readers know that this is a HORRIBLE solution to any situation no matter how bleak it may look. Suicide is never the answer. I had to take some stars off for the simple fact that this book is going into the hands of kids that face these problems every day and there was no moral, no advice, no solution offered in the pages of the book, only all these bad things in essence being 'blessed' because these supernatural, kick-butt characters are doing them so they should be ok, right?
I will say that Vartparonian was 18 while writing this, so he was in fact the age of the intended readers himself. While you can feel the knowledge he holds for modern-day teenagers in the story, I still can't condone the message it seems to convey. I doubt all readers will feel the same, it's simply my opinion on this score.
The RomanceThere are a few romances in this story since there are quite a few main characters. Matt gets his chance at romance. Daphne meets a beau. Rochelle and Jonas are quite the pair. The first kiss wasn't particular my favorite for those two, but the romance sweetened up after that and was very fun to read about. That pairing was my favorite in this story. There are some YA romantic scenes. Also, there is an attempted rape scene.
ConclusionVery well developed characters with flaws, fast-paced, intense, supernatural story with good twists and turns. Mysterious characters and a great plot, plus this one was a page turner. The only draw-back for me was the missing moral of the story on some of the elements. I would read this one again, and if there is a 2nd one I would read that one as well.
Excerpts"He must be feeling like such a god up there on his little podium," Rochelle whispered in my ear, and we both laughed quietly.
"Math..." I muttered, fighting back a groan. I regarded numbers as my own personal enemies. They were discriminative, I thought, for there was only one acceptable answer, and all others deemed wrong; a numerical apartheid in my indignant opinion.
Was I in the wrong room? But it couldn't be. We had crossed the only other door of the changing rooms that led into the P.E. office. But, sure as Rochelle was a reckless lunatic, this was most definitely not the P.E. office.
"And let me tell you something, Vampire Bill can 'Sukeh' me anytime, anywhere he likes."
For a second I thought I heard a pang of envy in Matt's voice, and that helped me recover from the shock. Envy was really just another form of flattery.
Ardash Vartparonian was born in London but raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina. At the age of 18 he began his debut novel, Solstice High, and continued writing throughout his last year of school and first year of university, where he moved back to the UK to study English Literature at Edinburgh University. Now a fourth year student, Ardash enjoys going out with his friends, watching horror movies and reading fantasy book while trying to keep up with his university work.
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