As a reader, what matters to me is a good story. And this was a good story. I found it engrossing, and thoroughly enjoyed this look into young adult paranormal. I can’t remember ever reading a story told from the point of view of a blind 16 year old boy. I liked that perspective, especially because Alex doesn’t spend any time moping about the fact that he can’t see. It just simply is who he is.
First line: “Today is the last day of summer, but I’m not doing anything even remotely close to fun.” I’m not sure that’s the best possible way to kick off a story. Having the main character start out by saying he is bored makes me think the story is boring. This is anything but, so please read past that! Soon he grabs his cane and goes into the house and you will be immediately sucked into his world. I found myself watching him, marveling at how easily he gets around even though he can’t see.
Mechanics: Normally, I don’t care for stories told in present tense. It drives me crazy; it’s so hard to do well. However, in this case about 1/4 of the way through I forgot all about it. By the end of the book I no longer noticed the present tense. I had to go back and make sure the tense hadn’t changed, it suddenly felt so natural to me. So for those used to third person, give this a chance. Give it a few chapters, it will sit comfortably by the end I promise.
Each chapter begins with the picture of a rune stone and a short, descriptive phrase pertaining to that chapter (almost like reading a fortune cookie or a tarot card). I know there is some sort of point to them but honestly I found that they got in the way. I started skipping those because I don’t really like it when the chapter heading gives away what is going on in the chapter. I like to find out on my own, but that’s just me. I’m sure others will find that little device to be quite fun.
Voice: I thought this was a masterful job of showing us a small corner of the world through blind eyes. I found myself seeing everything the way Alex sees it. When I finished I had to think about it. Even though there wasn’t one word of what anything looked like, I can totally picture what the flower shop looks and smells like, the psychic shop, the school…the chem lab! THAT is a job well done. Some are mentioning there are slip ups, that there is description that Alex couldn’t possibly have known. I didn’t find any, and I was looking for it. I think people forget how acute other senses become when one is lost. Someone blind since birth would hear and smell things that others wouldn’t and that alone would tell him if someone is flipping a page in a book, or rifling through a desk drawer, etc. He doesn’t have to see it to know what is happening. I certainly didn’t run into anything that pulled me out of the story.
Characters: I like that different cultures were brought in. I found the main character Alex to be very well rounded. He stands up for himself; he’s not one to wallow. The two girls that become his friends were a good mix as well. I liked that their backgrounds were so different, and that they are obviously having teen angst but it’s shown in a way that didn’t shove it in my face like another glittery vampire novel I could mention.
Plot: There is a nice buildup of tension in this story. It starts out just everyday life, but somewhere around the middle of the story I could no longer put the book down. I couldn’t wait to see how it turned out. I won’t give any spoilers here though. I’ll just say there is an ever increasing drive toward the bad guy, and a twist at the end that I enjoyed. The pacing was good, the plot solid, and the ending satisfying.
For those looking for a fun dip into the psychic powers, or for a story told from a unique perspective of a blind boy, give this a try. Have your kids read this, it will spark all kinds of discussions. The bullying of someone different, the ability of disabilities, dealing with family issues including financial and marital, keeping secrets, all of it. With a little bit of mystery and paranormal thrown in. I liked it, even as an adult.
NOTE: I didn’t find any typos, for what that’s worth. There might be one or two in there but they sure don’t stand out. It’s formatted perfectly for the Kindle and was an easy read, start to finish.