YA Paranormal/Magical Realism

All the book covers link to the Tattered Cover bookstore page for that book.

sacrificeSacrifice, by Brigid Kemmerer
I loved this one (like all the others)! This is Michael’s story, and it was neat to get some insight into his personal struggles. As with all the others, I also enjoyed getting to know Hannah (the woman Michael loves) here. The angst and tension (and intensity) was again high, and when I’m in the mood for that, these books fit everything so perfectly. The romance is always satisfying (to me), and I loved the growing tension in the plot, as well. Although I’m ready for this series to be completed, this is another great installment.
The story (in a nutshell): The Guardians are stepping up their plans, and Michael feels helpless as they go after his brothers, himself, and even Hannah…and he must decide how best to fight back if he wants to save them all.
Kensington, 9/14

unmadeUnmade, by Sarah Rees Brennan
This is a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy. I think I enjoyed this trilogy so much because of Cami, the heroine. She’s fiesty while still being vulnerable — and she’s clever and loyal and generous. She’s a great person, someone most people would enjoy knowing IRL. The tension in the story was well done, the pacing solid, and the romance sweet and emotional. All in all, I think this is a great trilogy, and I can’t wait to see what Brennan comes up with next!
The story: Cami and her friends fear that their town will be lost for good — especially when Cami’s mom appears to have defected to the Linburn side of things. Cami continually worries about her friends — and Jared, who still resists letting Cami get too close. Cami realizes that her courage and determination may be all they have, but will it be enough?
Random House BFYR, 9/14

lostinthoughtLost in Thought, by Cara Bertrand
I enjoyed this very much, despite some awkward narrative moments (a few too many ‘telling’ moments for my personal taste). The main character is likable and thoughtful, and her reactions to the new world she discovers seem realistic. The romance is very nice (though it got a little weird at the end), and the tension kept me reading throughout. I’m looking forward to the next installment, and I hope some of the uneven writing becomes a little more fluid…though honestly, Betrand’s ability to keep the tension high despite that is pretty impressive. 😉 The story: Lainey thinks she’s going crazy, but when she gets accepted as a Legacy in a private school (after years of homeschooling from her aunt), she becomes involved with a group of teens who appear to have similar craziness…and she soon discovers that her craziness is actually an ability to sense death. Lainey’s not thrilled to have such a depressing gift, though it gets worse when she learns the boy she thought liked her (and whom she likes in return) was ‘assigned’ to her. Plus, as she grows in her gift, more mysteries are revealed, and some of the classmates are just as un-thrilled as she at her presence in their lives. What will happen when the biggest secret of all is revealed — can Lainey live with the weight and responsibility of her past? (YA paranormal, released 4/14, publisher: Luminous Books)

splitsecondSplit Second, by Kasie West
I enjoyed this just as much as the first one — in fact, I probably liked it more because this time around, I know the world better and wasn’t nearly as confused. Plus, in this one, Addie has already chosen between the two paths (that she viewed in Pivot Point, the previous book), so it’s a more linear tale. I liked the continued world building (though now it’s more like world solidifying), and I like the increased role of Laila here. Also, Trevor continues to be a swoon-worthy character here, and even though he doesn’t know Addie this time around, Addie is doing what she can to change that. It’s nice that Laila gets someone decent to focus on too, a character with his own tragic backstory. I’m guessing there will be another? (It ends with the possibility but no cliff-hanger, thankfully.) The story: Addie is now living the path she chose in the previous book, and as she leaves the Compound (where all the paranormals live), she’s surprised to recognize a boy in her dad’s Normal town. The boy doesn’t know her, and Addie realizes he must be from her other path — the path she didn’t choose and the path she no longer has the memories of…since Laila Erased them. Now, Laila works to restore Addie’s memories, and Addie works to restore a relationship that never happened — all as the Compound sets up a series of tests for Addie’s loyalty. (YA paranormal suspense, released 2/14, publisher: Harper Teen)

secretSecret, by Brigid Kemmerer
This is my favorite of the Elemental series to date, though I’ve loved all of them. Here, however, we see Nick, the ‘quiet’ twin, dealing with his ability and his secrets. I really like Nick and Quinn, and I enjoyed the dual POV where we got to see how both of them were handling their challenging lives. I also loved Adam, and I felt like he and Nick fit together so nicely. As always, the angst factor in these books is HIGH, but the characterization is good, and I feel like seeing into the hearts of these various characters is a nice indicator of how perspective (and walking a mile in someone else’s shoes) can really change our own hearts. I can’t wait for the next one! The story: Now that Silver (one of the Guides) has failed in his assignment to kill all the Merricks, another Guide has come to town to finish the job. Always on edge, the Merrick brothers have to keep on living, however. Nick, now burdened with the realization that he’s gay, doesn’t know how to tell his brothers. Quinn, his girlfriend, suggests she can be his ‘beard’ to keep his brothers from knowing that he’s actually spending time with Adam, Quinn’s dancing partner. But then Tyler, another Elemental, comes into play. Tyler and Nick have never gotten along (and Tyler believes that Mike, Nick’s older brother, killed his sister). But when Tyler develops a bond with Quinn and begins helping her out, he and Nick are forced into closer contact and must deal with the animosity between them. And when Nick’s secrets come out, his brothers have to decide if they’re going to support him (as he’s always done for them) or not — and the Guide makes his move, endangering not only the brothers but everyone they love. (YA paranormal/suspense, released 1/14, publisher: Kensington Teen)

never fadeNever Fade, by Alexandra Bracken
I really enjoyed this. In many ways, I thought it was better than the first book, as Ruby is more solid in her character now. I loved how tough she was while still retaining her humanity and struggling for goodness. I love Liam (of course), and even though I understand why Ruby did what she did (in the previous book), it’s painful seeing how she and Liam are struggling now. In some ways, this is truly a horror series: what happens to some of these kids is truly horrifying. But I like how that part is mentioned and dealt with without showcasing it too much. The story: Ruby has returned to the League and has been trained well. Still, she wants nothing more than to know that Liam is safe and well, and when Liam’s brother appears and gives Ruby a special assignment involving Liam, Ruby agrees immediately. One of her new team joins her, a teen named Jude, a yellow. The result of this mission could take down the League and help inform the public of what’s really happening to Psi kids, and Ruby has to focus on that as things don’t go as planned. When she finds Liam, sick and weak, in a camp of rogue Blues, Ruby has to figure out how to save him and free the other kids, as well…and as her own abilities continue to grow and focus, she mostly has to discover how to use her talents without hating herself after. What will happen when a supposed cure is found, when Clancy returns with his own agenda, and when one of Ruby’s own appears lost forever? (YA paranormal suspense, releases 10/13, publisher: Disney-Hyperion)

spiritSpirit, by Brigid Kemmerer
I loved this. I’ve loved all of the Elemental books, though each one is sooooo angsty! Kemmerer has a real gift in her ability to tap into the teenage angst and those feelings of unworthiness and drama. Each book makes me ache for the main characters. This book is about Hunter, the Fifth who’d originally hoped to get Becca on his side (her story meshes with Chris’s in Storm). I like Hunter; I like his compassion and his struggle. I definitely feel for him, as he watches his own family seem to turn their backs on him. The disconnect between his own outward behavior and his inner struggle is very realistic, as well, I think. This book is sadder than the first two, as Hunter experiences some true tragedy in his quest to figure out his own abilities as a Fifth and how that meshes with the Elementals and the Guides in this world. However, I like the ending, and I think it’s true for Hunter’s story (and perhaps opens the door for another secondary character to find some peace too). At the end of the version I read (an e-galley), there’s a peek into Nick’s story (which I hope is next) — and wow, that looks amazing! The story: Hunter believes his father, a Guide, wanted him to find and destroy the Elementals. But now that his father is dead and his mother’s grief seems to have pulled her from Hunter’s side, Hunter has to rely on his own insight…and his gut is telling him to befriend the Merricks, not to destroy them. Plus, the first girl who ever showed friendship to him — Becca — clearly trusts the Merricks, as well. Then Hunter discovers another Fifth, a girl named Kate, who appears to also be after the Merricks, and Hunter has to decide between his gut and his memory of his father’s dedication — not to mention his own supposed purpose as a Fifth. It doesn’t help that he’s attracted to Kate, and despite her apparent passion in wanting to destroy the Elementals, she also seems attracted to Hunter. But Hunter’s own inability to trust anyone quickly gets in the way of his instinct, and soon, he feels abandoned by everyone and must find his way all on his own, with nothing but his own unreliable memories of his dad to guide him. (YA paranormal, releases 5/13, publisher: K-Teen)]

nobodyNobody, by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
This was an enjoyable (though angsty/sad) read. I liked both Nix and Claire, and it was hard to see them so unhappy. But the world-building was intriguing (though it took me a bit to figure it out and feel comfortable in their world), and I thought the concept of Nulls versus Normals versus Nobodies was pretty creative. I’m guessing there will be another book (there’s certainly room for one), and if so, I’ll definitely pick it up. The story: Claire wonders why no one ever seems to notice her, not even her own parents. Nix is sent to kill Claire, after being told she’s a Null, a person who has no conscience and can bend the will of others to herself. But when Claire sees him and is able to avoid his attempts, he begins to realize something is wrong. Only Nobodies can see other Nobodies…but Nix has been taught he’s the *only* Nobody. Eventually, the two come together and talk, and Claire learns of the truth of herself, and she and Nix join forces to try and take down the Society, the group which engineers the balance of Nulls, Nobodies, and Normals…and soon they discover that the Society is actually manipulating things for reasons they don’t understand. Will two Nobodies be able to take the whole thing down — and still have each other (when neither has ever had someone before)? (YA paranormal, released 1/13, publisher: Egmont USA)

unspokenUnspoken: The Lynburn Legacy, by Sarah Rees Brennan
I really enjoyed this. I like Kami, most of all. She’s such an irrepressible personality, and her ability to square her shoulders and keep going was truly charming. At the same time, I ached for her when she felt the sting of rejection — and the tension between her and Jared was remarkable (and hard to read, at times). The only reason this didn’t get five stars is because the ending was a serious cliff-hanger — but I want to add that, in this case, I realize it’s necessary. The book was quite well-paced, imo, because we saw the resolution of the main mystery, we understood what was really going on in Sorry-in-the-Vale, and we knew that things were just beginning…thus, the need for at least one more book (I’m guessing it’ll be a trilogy, perhaps?). What I like about this (especially in light of completing the Matched trilogy recently) is that it’s quite apparent that book two will NOT be a placeholder. It can’t be, and things are already set up for something important to happen. Hopefully (oh, I so hope), Jared will find some peace! (Oh, and I also love the realistic mix of romance — gay and straight). The story: Kami has an imaginary friend with whom she talks in her head — until the day he turns up in her village, in her school, and she has an actual body with a face and a physical voice she must now relate to. And that’s only the beginning of the strangeness, as Kami believes there are some ritual animal killings going on — and then a girl (an ex-friend of Kami’s — a girl who ditched her when she heard Kami actually talked to someone in her head) is murdered. Kami doesn’t want to believe it has anything to do with Jared or his family, but things aren’t looking good. Kami starts investigating with the help of her circle of friends (and Jared and his cousin Ash), and when Kami is threatened, secrets come pouring out. Kami realizes she will have to make some choices about her link with Jared — choices that he might not agree with, choices which will change their relationship in ways they can’t imagine. (YA paranormal/mystery, released 9/12, publisher: Random House)

Spark, by Brigid Kemmerer
I really enjoyed this. I liked the first one too (Storm), and this had many of the same positives — the tension between characters, the tension within the plot itself, the overall strength of pacing, likable and relate-able characters, great romance, etc. I thought this one was better simply because the angst wasn’t quite so overwhelming. In the first book, both Chris and Becca had so many issues that it was hard for me to get through the book, even though the plot was intriguing. This one avoided that — even though Layne’s life wasn’t perfect, her angst wasn’t as overwhelming. That meant I had room in my angst bank (ha) for all of Gabe’s struggles without feeling swamped. And the rest of the Merrick brothers — and Hunter — were just as intriguing as usual. It looks like the next book will be about Hunter, and I’m looking forward to that, as well! The story: Gabe is struggling to control his ability with fire. It doesn’t help that he feels like his weakness injured his twin — and that his brothers seem capable of handling their gifts while he’s not. Then Hunter, a Fifth, starts to show signs of friendliness and begins taking Gabe to fires. Gabe is able to move through the flames, feed that burning need in himself, and rescue anyone trapped inside…but when arson is suspected for the series of house fires, Gabe becomes a suspect. And when the arsonist goes after Layne, the girl Gabe is trying his darndest NOT to fall for, Gabe has to find a way to stop the person — and to control his own abilities before a Guardian is called to deal with him and his brothers for good. (YA paranormal, released 8/12, publisher: K-teen)

the markedThe Marked, by Inara Scott
I couldn’t wait for this to come out — I’ve been waiting for it since I read the first one (Delcroix Academy: The Candidates). And yes, I did love this! There were some rough spots, however. 1) The pacing wasn’t as smooth as I remember it being in the first book, and some of the relationships seemed to move in skips and jumps. 2) Dancia was an idiot about one thing through much of the book — and although it was a minor detail (in some ways), I couldn’t see why she wouldn’t just talk to Cam about it. 3) I’m not sure about Jack’s journey…so much of his life is now off-stage, and yet, he remains a central figure in Dancia’s life. (I feel like we need to be seeing more of what’s really going on with him.) Anyway, I truly enjoyed reading this, but those few things did niggle at me throughout. I’d definitely recommend it, however, especially if you loved the first as much as I did. I’m hoping there will be another (and who knows? Maybe we’ll learn more about Jack there…). The story: Dancia is now a part of the Program, but despite her outward show, she’s still unsure of everyone’s motives. The training techniques are tough too, and Dancia doesn’t understand why they’re pushing her so hard. Her relationship with Cam is great, but they’re both holding onto secrets…and Jack keeps calling her and questioning everything. Dancia doesn’t know who to believe, but when the Irin come after Cam, she has to make a stand, one way or another. (YA paranormal, released 4/12, publisher: Hyperion)

carrier of the markCarrier of the Mark, by Leigh Fallon
I definitely enjoyed this book. A couple of things which I thought were done especially well: 1) no love triangle, yet still romantic tension; 2) a solid ending, even though this is clearly the first book of a series (or at least two books). I liked how Megan never wavered in her feelings for Adam, though at the same time (minor nitpick here), I kind of wished there’d been some more history there. They fell ‘in love’ so quickly (which is very much typical teen), and with the story elements which tried to either keep them together or pull them apart, sometimes it seemed like there wasn’t enough foundation to justify the depth of their feelings. Still, I really liked that they remained true to one another! Another minor quibble: I didn’t quite get the power of the Order (won’t say more to avoid spoilers). I think a little more history (not just being told, btw, but *seeing* it) could have helped there too. Anyway, a very enjoyable read, despite a few wobbles 😀 The story: Megan and her dad move to Ireland for his new job, and Megan is hoping to actually make friends this time. Right away she gains the attention of Adam, a mysterious boy who apparently avoids everyone. When Megan begins to build a friendship with Caitlin and Jennifer, she discovers more about Adam — but both girls tell her not to bother: not only is he arrogant, but he’s creepy, as well. But Megan can’t seem to stay away, and when Adam admits he’s intrigued by her too, the two slowly become friends and more…and Megan learns that Adam’s ‘creepy’ weirdness is something she has too — in fact, that weirdness might have a role in bringing them together in the first place. Not only that, but it’s attracting attention from the wrong sort of people, people who will stop at nothing to keep Megan from loving Adam and his family. (YA paranormal, released 10/11, publisher: Harper Teen)

Forgotten, by Cat Patrick
This is excellent! I was totally engrossed, and I read the entire book in two chunks. The overall concept is cool, and Patrick pulls it off so well. I loved Luke; I loved London and her challenges. I loved how everything was ‘normal’ with this little added twist. I have no doubt this will be one of my top five reads of the year! The story: London Lane isn’t quite like everyone else — she remembers tomorrow, not yesterday. With her mom’s help, London manages to get through life by taking copious notes on today’s events so that when her memory resets in the early morning hours, she will be able to find her way. With her ability to ‘see the future’, she knows about the trials and pains those around her will face — until she meets Luke, a boy she can’t recall from the future. Luke, however, refuses to stay away, and before long, London and Luke have been dating for months. At the same time, something about Luke has triggered aspects of London’s ‘memory’, and London finds herself in the midst of a mystery regarding her long-absent dad — as well as trying to discover why she can’t remember Luke, even though he’s by her side every day. (YA magical realism?, released 6/11, publisher: Little, Brown)

always a witchAlways a Witch, by Carolyn MacCullough
I enjoyed this even more than the first (Once a Witch)! Tamsin is a great character — spunky, vulnerable, sympathetic. As always with time travel stories, there were a few issues which confused me, though not enough to ruin my enjoyment of the book. I liked how Tamsin figured out what she had to do and did it — and how protective she was of Gabriel. I also liked how he was protective of her (one of my tiny nits is about this, however: I wanted to see more of what Gabriel had to go through to find Tam). I thought there was some nice tension, though I must admit that I never really felt Tam was in dire danger — until the end. All in all, it was a fast, well-paced, intriguing story! The story: Tam is delighted with her Talent after thinking she didn’t have one for most of her life. But when a stranger Travels into their home and takes over Tam’s uncle, they all realize something has gone horribly wrong. Tam is determined to figure it out, but she wants to keep Gabriel out of it, hoping he’ll be safer staying in his own time. When Tam uses the Domani to Travel back to the time right before her family binds the Knights’ power (the rival and much more evil family), she finds herself stuck in that time — and she can’t find any of her family! She does manage to find the Knights, but when she discovers what they’re doing, she learns things are even worse than they all thought…. (YA paranormal, released 8/11, publisher: Clarion)

witch eyesWitch Eyes, by Scott Tracey
I definitely enjoyed this. I liked Braden, and I found his world fascinating. What I thought Tracey did really well: the reasons behind Braden’s secretiveness with Trey; the tension between so many characters; the mystery (part of which is solved by the end, and part of which isn’t). A couple things which were a little frustrating: I couldn’t quite get a strong handle on the world-building; Trey seemed a little too rigid in his beliefs (actually, he went from rigid to almost-naive), and that weakened his character bit for me. Overall, however, I really liked the suspense and the romance, and I’ll definitely be finding the next one! The story: Braden has the power to see and use magic in an unusual way — but it all stems from his ‘witch eyes.’ He wears sunglasses to keep from overloading, but when he sees a vision of future danger to his uncle, he runs away to the one place his uncle’s always tried to keep him from…and immediately, he’s thrown into a long-time feud between the reigning families in the town. And on the day he learns he’s a member of one of those families, he also falls for the son of the rival family — and that’s the least of his troubles! (YA paranormal suspense; GLBT; released 9/11; publisher: Flux)

beyond the graveBeyond the Grave, by Mara Purnhagen
The final (I think) book in this series/trilogy is very good! Like the first one, this had a strong mystery and was nicely creepy throughout. I liked Charlotte in all three books, but in this one, she really expressed her strengths and vulnerabilities well. The ghost aspect was very creepy and the stakes were high — as it appears as though the bad ghost (the Watcher) is coming after Noah, Charlotte’s boyfriend. There were some things which weren’t explained that well in places, but other things were not only clear but pretty cool (like the Protectors — even though I didn’t completely get the mechanics of it). All in all, a solid and enjoyable read! The story: Charlotte’s life hasn’t gotten any easier in the four months since the attack on her mom. Although her mom is still alive (barely), and despite the fact that everyone claims Charlotte got rid of the Watcher, Charlotte can tell something is not right — her first clue being the bruise on Noah’s neck which won’t go away. Then, as Noah begins his senior year, his behavior becomes more and more erratic, and Charlotte is terrified that she’s losing him…and her mom’s coma is deepening. Charlotte, along with two new friends, begins looking for the answers — and is shocked and terrified at what she finds. She can only hope her determination to save those she loves is enough. (YA paranormal/ghost, released 8/11, publisher: Harlequin)

Delcroix Academy: The Candidates, by Inara Scott
Oh, I really liked this! It could have been written for me — a boarding school-type situation, paranormal activity, a mystery, romance…loved it! (And yes, it’s been added to my to-buy pile.) I also loved that the MC realized that although two boys appeared to be interested in her, she really only felt romantically inclined toward one of them (yay), and she was true to that throughout (well, emotionally true — there was a brief kiss with the other, but she felt appropriately guilty for it). I can’t wait to read the next one! The story: Dancia is recruited as a freshman to attend the fancy, private high school in her home town (to her shock). She has no outstanding abilities, but they still want her, and she fears it’s because they know about things she’s tried to hide her entire life. Complicating things even more are two boys who couldn’t be more different: Cam, the perfect junior; and Jack, the troubled freshman. (YA paranormal mystery; released 8/2010; publisher: Disney-Hyperion)

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About Robin

I'm a reader, a writer, a mom, a writing coach...and someone who loves the outdoors.
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One Response to YA Paranormal/Magical Realism

  1. Annellin says:

    Loved it, i’ll look for all the books!

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