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QUICK NOTE...Update: 2/19/19

Still working through things. We were right in the path of Hurricane Michael (like so many others), and while the family is safe (pups, and parents), the house didn't fair as well. Baby steps back into the blogging world and started to grow, so you know, a post here, a post there, and away we go! Hope you stay along for the ride!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Evolution: For better or worse...

Hi there readers!
Nice to see you once again here at Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers.  A quick reminder before we launch into today's review, the Imagin Books scavenger hunt ends tonight at midnight...up for grabs, bookish prizes galore!  Just click on the link in the right hand sidebar for all the details.  I promise, the entry is easy-peasey.  Moving on...

Today's featured title is an ebook I finished late last week and have yet had the chance to expound on the thoughts and theories floating through my head as a result.  Consider this post me making that chance.  The title is different, the cover unexpected....but the story is one you don't want to miss.  Without further adieu, today's book of choice is...

Darwin's Children, Volume 1

From the author....
Life can get pretty complicated for any seventeen-year-old girl, but for a home-schooled telepathic black girl trying to survive in a prestigious private school in small-town Jonesborough, Tennessee, it can be maddening – especially when her telepathic father keeps eavesdropping on her thoughts!

Jaycie Lerner’s family isn’t the usual mom-dad-kid setup. Her family's special – in more ways that one. Her mom’s MIA, but Allison, her personal live-in ‘trainer,’ is more than a mom, with her own special abilities, like being able to lift cars and run incredibly fast. And her godfather John can literally convince anyone to do anything.

But, as far as the rest of the world’s concerned, Jaycie’s on the outside looking in. The townsfolk love her pediatrician father, but she doesn’t fit in with ‘normal’ kids, and she doesn’t really want to. Most of her free time is spent training to keep her telekinetic and telepathic powers under control. But there’s one thing she can’t control – her feelings, especially when her best friend Matt is nearby. If only he knew what she was truly capable of...

Everything seems to be status quo for Jaycie and her family, until she receives a cryptic message from a stranger and meets a very unusual girl new to Jonesborough. Then all hell breaks loose!
Jaycie Lerner. How can one summarize this young lady? Studious for certain. Dedicated to everything and everyone. Oh yes...I almost forgot...a little spitfire just waiting to explode upon the world. Okay, perhaps she's not going to explode (at least not if her family has anything to say about it) but she can certainly unleash the wrath when necessary despite her outward appearance. At school and in life, she flies under the radar...almost successfully except for the taunts of some fellow students who just don't know when to quit, which leaves her as an outsider. As with most of us that have ever been in her position, looking in doesn't feel all that good and it saddened me to see her want to fit in so desperately given all her talents. Sad as that is, it does reflect the real world. We're not always that accepting of change or those that are "different". *shakes head* It's a shame too because we miss out on some stellar opportunities because of it. Anywho, where was I ...oh yes...

Jaycie is the girl with all the talent but there are several other formidable friends in her extended family that have powers of their own. From persuasion to mind control, super speed to super strength, it's a mixed bag of power just waiting to burst at the seams...or go up in flames as we discover two new characters that have a unique way of lighting up the night. Alison is her trainer, surrogate mother (hers is MIA), and friend, there when she needs her through thick and thin...even when it comes time to talk about self control in regards to relationships and growing up. Thank goodness she's there because is left unchecked, the chemistry between Jaycie and one particular fellow is enough to rock all our worlds...literally, or at least break a few windows. Her father is in a league of his own and certainly an example of what not to do if you're a parent with the ability to read your child's mind. *glares at character* Yep...a teenage mind is dangerous enough without them poking around in there too. But seriously, his character goes through growing pains as well and it's nice to see that relationship development and change throughout the story.

On the newcomer side, we have Haylee...who is much more than she appears and has suffered more than could be imagined. She's a strong girl despite initial outward appearances...think shrinking violet...and it's wonderful to see how she comes into her own eventually. It may not be the most peaceful path but its one that she has to travel and comes to terms with thanks to her new found "family". Continuing in the newbie vein, we meet and greet a few members of the Dey-Vah Guard as well as the more common Guardians. Let's just say though their intentions are for balance and keeping the peace, seeing one is not always a sign of good things to come. The Gray family has a brief stint towards the later half of the story but I sincerely hope we get to learn more about their family as they seem fierce and fascinating themselves. Add to this mix a love interest for Jaycie and've got a wide variety of personalities to sort through, but you're sure to find one you can identify with. Kudos to the author on that accomplishment! A crowded cast can be hard to manage but she pulls it off well.

Story wise it holds its own and then some.  It breaks free of the "book-one-in-a-series" syndrome early on leaving no doubt that you're in for quite a ride.  There's highs and lows.  Scenes of total control and total chaos but in the end, it's a well scripted plot that's carried out evenly throughout the pages and leaves you waiting for more...or at least it left me waiting for the next installment.  ^_^

There are two points though that did rub me the wrong way, which I'll touch on briefly here if you please.  The first one actually occurs near book's end.  One particular character is trying to recover from something or other (no, I didn't forget what happened, I just don't want to spoil it for you) and there is this dramatic build up of how badly they're doing and then POOF...they'll back in action.  I had a small case of reader whiplash from that turnaround.  It just seemed like an odd turn of events due to the speed at which it happened.  Does it affect the ending?  No...just raised my eyebrow for a page or two.
Second item to mention...that (at times) was maddening for me personally was the emphasis placed on a person's ethnicity.  For me, it doesn't really play a role for the most part.  I mean, my brain conjures the story into a movie of sorts and I can see all the characters based off the descriptions and such but their actual detailed features when brought front and center, would in fact be merely holders if you will.  Sure I can tell you who the blue eyed blond girl was or that the strapping young lad with the dark hair was following so-and-so, but at the base of it all is a love of the story.  The journey, triumphs, tribulations, loves gained and lost....all of the actual elements are what I embrace as a reader and though I certainly understand why the emphasis was placed (as well as the cover art....just Google any of the multiple discussions on the "washing" of covers and the like or even read through the author's thoughts on a similar branch to the subject)), it doesn't truly make a difference for me one way or the other.  In fact, it almost gets in the way of my reading experience...almost.  (Hey, I DID say I liked this one A LOT...didn't I?  ^_^)
All in all, an exciting start to a series I know will remain on my wish list until we reach the very end....though when or where that might be is any ones guess.  There is a world of characters and challenges left to explore in this literary's hoping the author takes her time showing us each and every one.  I for one, can't wait!  Recommended read for teens through adults as there are a few sensual situations, crimes of which shall not be named here scenes and retribution scenes that the kiddos could do without, but rest assured it's kept as clean as it can be considering what the one character lives through. 
Special thanks to My Love Affair With Books for introducing this title to me in one of their great bookish posts, thereby giving me the chance to make the connection with the author all through my little ole comment.  Gotta love how the blogging world many ways to reach out and influence each other.  My thanks as well to author Natasha Larry for the review copy as well as a fascinating read.  (THANKS!)  Curious how the series got its start?  Check out the author's blog post for a glimpse behind the creative process.  For more information regarding her work, check out her website (which at the time of this post looked to be still under construction) or follow along on Twitter.  ALSO...through September 29th, 2011, GoodReads has your chance to win a copy of the book to call your own so be sure to check it out! 
Until next time...happy reading!


The1stdaughter said...

Great review and whoa! What a punch this book packs! I love all the more "magical" aspects you mention, it definitely sounds like a great read. I do have to say I agree on the ethnicity aspect in certain books, that's not to say I don't enjoy the books I just wish it wasn't the focus. Which is what it sounds like in this case, at times. I think there's a way to do it correctly that can really enhance the book, but it's a fine line for sure.

Fab review as always! :o)

GMR said...

the1stdaughter: Thank you! Yes...well said. ^_^

Natasha Larry said...

I just wanted to thank you again for taking a chance with a new novelist. This review is very well written, and one of the rare ones I can learn from =)

Compliments to the chef!

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