Author: Lindsay RibarEdition: HardcoverRating: 3 Stars
I haven't seen this one around much even though it came out earlier this year. I blame the cover, which doesn't really do the story justice in the least. I'm awful about judging books by their cover, and that's exactly what I was doing with this one whenever I saw it on shelves. But, my dad picked it out for me (and bought it for me, which was very nice of him!) and it didn't sound bad so I picked it up right away.
Here's what it's about: Aspen Quick and the rest of his family can steal things with their magic. Anything- your freckles, that annoying smoking habit you have, memories, feelings, anything at all. And you won't notice it, probably. After the sudden death of his cousin, Heather, Aspen is invited to stay the summer with his aunt and grandmother to use his powers "for good" by using them in a ritual that prevents the cliff over the town from falling. He invites his two best friends to join him, one of which he's had a crush on since he met. After the ritual goes strangely, Aspen begins to investigate and discovers that things are not what they seem.
For me, this book fell flat. There are a lot of mature themes that are touched on, like morality and what it means, family relations and how important they are, how empathy works and what it means to be a good person, just to name a few. And while it does brush up against these ideas, I wish there had been more time spent on them. I think the reason there wasn't a deeper look at these things has to do with the fact that it's a novel (I think it would have been better as a duology or a much longer novel) and that the protagonist is somewhat of an unreliable narrator. He's not completely unreliable, but he's definitely messed up enough that these things may not get across his radar like they do for the reader.
Speaking of the protagonist- I really didn't like Aspen. He's selfish, sort of rapey, and not at all the typical "hero" of a YA story. Which was awesome! Not because he was pretty bad, but because the author pulls it off so well! I wasn't necessarily rooting for him most of the novel, but I don't think the reader is meant to really like him. He's meant to come off as a pseudo-villain and it works really well with the plot. Still, I wish there was more time for redemption, which is another area that this book fell flat for me.
The best part were the reveals. Every few chapters something would be revealed and you're like "Yes I understand okay no more secrets" and then realize that the reveal just opened up so many more questions and then there's another reveal later. It was fun to untangle everything that was happening, especially because it moved quickly enough that the reader only had time to catch their breath before they lost it again.
TL;DR? A bit of a flat novel that features an unlikable (but still interesting) narrator and interesting plot twists every few chapters.