After her mother’s death, a girl who can see in the dark tries to restart a normal high school life but keeps encountering the mysterious in Bennett’s YA fantasy.
Ten months ago, Tru Parker watched as a hit-and-run driver struck and killed her mother. She walked around in a virtual coma through the rest of her school year, and now that she’s a junior, she hopes to salvage her zombie reputation. Her best friend will help, as will her improved looks: she’s acquired a tan and extra inches in height, plus—silver lining—she lost her appetite after her mother’s death. Intriguing boyfriend opportunities present themselves: Isaac Efoti, a handsome and towering Tongan-Taiwanese, and Zander Hughes, a good-looking new student who seems strangely familiar. As Tru deals with high school issues—teachers, friends and enemies, homecoming, romance—she also shrugs off her disturbing dreams and odd experiences. These include a warm humming sensation when she touches Zander; being able to heal injuries, even a grieving student’s depression, with her touch; strange comments from others, like how Dante (another new student) calls her an “‘Idimmu’” and says he’ll keep her secret. Isaac and Phoebe, his sister, also seem to have secrets, as do Zander and his brother Peter. When Tru is kidnapped by a half-insane minion of the powerful Collector, she gains new courage and learns many startling truths about supernatural beings and her relationship to them, vowing to discover more. Though Bennett, in her debut novel, travels familiar territory here—“ordinary” but actually gorgeous teenager with special powers; werewolves and vampires; a special destiny—she lifts her story with strong writing and a good voice. Tru and her friends sound like high schoolers; they use inventive slang (“Son of a butcher,” says her best friend Ruthie, a vegetarian) and experience a good balance of concerns both frivolous and serious. Readers may feel a little overwhelmed, though, by the ending revelations, which come at a fast clip and involve much strange vocabulary like Usemi, Akharu, and Sethians. The story leaves many loose ends, no doubt to be picked up in planned sequels.
Appealing if familiar fantasy elements are well-handled in this debut.