Adding "lettes" to a word just makes it more fun, doesn't it? I know some of you agreed when I posted my last reviewlettes post. That said, I went to reply to your lovely commments to further rhapsodize about 'lettes, and Blogger was having its breakdown and not allowing comments, so instead I wandered off to look at shiny things as I am wont to do. The writing of the reviewlettes was relatively pain-free and actually did not leave me feeling guilty for skipping out on the longer reviews, so guess what? I'm going to try it again. Three more for you today, and all YA. Here it goes!
Kyriel's job is Hell. Seriously. Kyriel is one of the Fallen, a demon responsible for tormenting the damned for all eternity. His function is to "echo souls' regrets back at them, thus letting them feel the full burden of their shame, guilt, and sorrow." Kyriel has always been a witness, but he thinks it's high time he got to experience some of the sins he's only heard about, so he steals the body of a high school guy mere seconds from dying and embraces the human experience. Overall, A.M. Jenkins' Repossessed didn't really satisfy me. Often books that rely on recounting the minute details of the human experience from the inexperienced eyes of some other just don't work for me, and such is the case here. Kyriel's descriptions of his experiences in Shaun's body seemed a little wooden and boring. I've done these things, so unless they're described in a particularly clever way, it loses my interest. That said, there were definitely some good points to Repossessed. For example, seeing the reviled demon's desire to do some good while he's got the power to even attempt to make a change is refreshing. Also, Jenkins uses Kyriel's mostly lightheated story to explore some of our beliefs about God and the devil as well as asking some profound questions about just how much God notices what's going on His creation. Repossessed definitely offers up a clever premise, but, in my opinion, it doesn't always live up to its promise.
Firelight is the first book in a series about modern descendants of dragons, the draki. Draki have developed the power to transform themselves into human form to hide from the men who would hunt them to extinction for profit. Jacinda, our narrator, is the last fire-breather of her pride and the victim of her pride's high expectations. She is already promised in marriage to Cassian, the son of an elder, doomed to a life of breeding to produce another fire-breather until one day, after a forbidden daylight flight, everything changes. Cornered by hunters, Jacinda is sure she is moments from death, until the hunter sent to find her spares her. Soon, Jacinda is being swept away from her home by her mother and sister to a place where she is forced to deny her very nature to survive, but when the very hunter who saved her life shows up in her new life, problems aren't far behind. Firelight is a fantastic start to a new YA series. The draki's nature and way of life is cleverly fleshed out. There is, of course, a convincing forbidden love story between two characters with undeniable chemistry. Jacinda makes a great narrator, pulled in so many different directions by all the people around her, yet determined to stay true to herself and her own draki nature. There's plenty of action and suspense to keep the pages turning, but never at the expense of the characters' development. I'm looking forward to reading more about Jacinda and the rest of the draki!
Last up is Blind Faith by Ellen Wittlinger. Blind Faith tells the story of Liz Scattergood who has just lost her grandmother, Bunny. Liz's mother is taking the loss particularly hard, having been the best of friends with her mother. When she finally gets up after days on end in bed, it's to try out a spiritualist church that promises to help her communicate with the dead. Liz and her father are skeptical, but Liz attends, just to see, and finds herself wondering if communicating with the dead isn't possible after all. Unfortunately, the church, instead of offering her answers, just gives her more questions.
In the meantime, Liz gets to know the newly moved in grandchildren of her prickly next door neighbor, Mrs. Crosby. Bubbly Courtney and angry Nathan are just the diversion Liz needs from all the problems she has at he own house, that is, until she discovers that Courtney and Nathan's mother is terminally ill, and a whole new legion of questions are unleashed, about life and death and love. Despite his own prickly exterior, Liz finds herself falling for Nathan, and before she knows it, she's wrapped up in a whole other family about to endure a crippling loss. Wittlinger takes on a lot in Blind Faith, dealing with death and dying, God, faith, the afterlife, mediums, mother/daughter relationships, and love all in one shot and does it remarkably successfully. In fact, if I had one complaint about this book, it's that all of Wittlinger's strings are tied up a bit too well. It's rare that you see all these sloppy issues cleared up so tidily in less than 300 pages. Even so, Wittlinger does an admirable and graceful job of asking questions about faith, unearthing the sensitive topic of dealing with terminal illness, and exploring the the unique mix of joy and pain that lurks inside all too many mother/daughter relationships. Not my favorite Wittlinger, but still definitely worth a read!