A promising start to a planned paranormal trilogy.

The Fray Theory

RESONANCE

In Keramati’s debut YA fantasy, a Canadian neuroscience student runs into an ex-boyfriend and subsequently finds herself in danger in an adventure that stretches across multiple dimensions.

Neve Knightly was devastated when her significant other, Dylan Sterling, disappeared three years ago. Now that he’s resurfaced, she’s angry and confused, especially because he’s vague about where he’s been and why. As bad luck would have it, Romer Anthony, the gorgeous, mysterious carpenter who’s helping her out with her first art exhibition, is also Dylan’s former best friend. Then her own best friend, Elliot Wilder, commits suicide by drowning after Neve has a dream about that same manner of death. She’s had prophetic dreams before, but she’s tried to ignore them since childhood; her parents once sent her to a psychiatrist after she claimed she could predict the future. Dylan’s own shrink, Alex Galen, however, doesn’t think she’s crazy at all. In fact, he tells her that “dreams are windows to our alternate realities.” He goes on to say that when Neve is sleeping, she can access her other selves, or “Proxies,” throughout the multiverse, a process he calls “Resonance.” He believes that Resonance is responsible for moments of déjà vu, telekinesis, ghosts, and other strange phenomena; for example, Neve broke the loveseat in his office when all her Proxies temporarily occupied the same space. He calls his life’s work “The Fray Theory,” and he quickly entrusts Neve with his notes about it before shadowy antagonists show up at his door. Keramati makes it clear that Neve is embroiled in something dark and dangerous, but she leaves some juicy questions unanswered in this volume. Although the love triangle she sets up among Neve, Dylan, and Romer is standard fare for YA, it still feels organic—Neve’s attraction to both men makes sense, and her own personality never gets lost in her relationships with them. Her prose is rich in figurative language, and her similes are often pitch-perfect, as when Dylan thinks of Neve as being “like a tuxedo kitten curled up in every corner of his heart.” On the other hand, others don’t quite land, as when the author describes Neve’s classmates leaving a school building as being “Like a broken line of ants leaving a funeral.”

A promising start to a planned paranormal trilogy.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Finch Hill

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2016

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A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.

BROTHERS IN ARMS

BLUFORD HIGH SERIES #9

In the ninth book in the Bluford young-adult series, a young Latino man walks away from violence—but at great personal cost.

In a large Southern California city, 16-year-old Martin Luna hangs out on the fringes of gang life. He’s disaffected, fatherless and increasingly drawn into the orbit of the older, rougher Frankie. When a stray bullet kills Martin’s adored 8-year-old brother, Huero, Martin seems to be heading into a life of crime. But Martin’s mother, determined not to lose another son, moves him to another neighborhood—the fictional town of Bluford, where he attends the racially diverse Bluford High. At his new school, the still-grieving Martin quickly makes enemies and gets into trouble. But he also makes friends with a kind English teacher and catches the eye of Vicky, a smart, pretty and outgoing Bluford student. Martin’s first-person narration supplies much of the book’s power. His dialogue is plain, but realistic and believable, and the authors wisely avoid the temptation to lard his speech with dated and potentially embarrassing slang. The author draws a vivid and affecting picture of Martin’s pain and confusion, bringing a tight-lipped teenager to life. In fact, Martin’s character is so well drawn that when he realizes the truth about his friend Frankie, readers won’t feel as if they are watching an after-school special, but as though they are observing the natural progression of Martin’s personal growth. This short novel appears to be aimed at urban teens who don’t often see their neighborhoods portrayed in young-adult fiction, but its sophisticated characters and affecting story will likely have much wider appeal.

A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2004

ISBN: 978-1591940173

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Townsend Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2013

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A short, simple, and sweet tale about two friends and a horse.

Mary's Song

From the Dream Horse Adventure Series series , Vol. 1

A novel tells the story of two spirited girls who set out to save a lame foal in 1952.

Mary, age 12, lacks muscle control of her legs and must use a wheelchair. Her life is constantly interrupted by trips with her widower father to assorted doctors, all of whom have failed to help her. Mary tolerates the treatments, hoping to one day walk unassisted, but her true passion involves horses. Possessing a library filled with horse books, she loves watching and drawing the animals at a neighboring farm. She longs to own one herself. But her father, overprotective due to her disability and his own lingering grief over Mary’s dead mother, makes her keep her distance. Mary befriends Laura, the emotionally neglected daughter of the wealthy neighboring farm owners, and the two share secret buggy rides. Both girls are attracted to Illusion, a beautiful red bay filly on the farm. Mary learns that Illusion is to be put down by a veterinarian because of a lame leg. Horrified, she decides to talk to the barn manager about the horse (“Isn’t it okay for her to live even if she’s not perfect? I think she deserves a chance”). Soon, Mary and Laura attempt to raise money to save Illusion. At the same time, Mary begins to gain control of her legs thanks to water therapy and secret therapeutic riding with Laura. There is indeed a great deal of poignancy in a story of a girl with a disability fighting to defend the intrinsic value of a lame animal. But this book, the first installment of the Dream Horse Adventure Series, would be twice as touching if Mary interacted with Illusion more. In the tale’s opening, she watches the foal from afar, but she actually spends very little time with the filly she tries so hard to protect. This turns out to be a strange development given the degree to which the narrative relies on her devotion. Count (Selah’s Sweet Dream, 2015) draws Mary and Laura in broad but believable strokes, defined mainly by their unrelenting pluckiness in the face of adversity. While the work tackles disability, death, and grief, Mary’s and Laura’s environments are so idyllic and their optimism and perseverance so remarkable that the story retains an aura of uncomplicated gentleness throughout.

A short, simple, and sweet tale about two friends and a horse.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Hastings Creations Group

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2016

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