Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Book Review: Harbinger

Author: Sara Wilson Etienne
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Release Date: February 2, 2012
Pages: 320
Read it in: 3 days
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Summary: When sixteen-year-old Faye arrives at Holbrook Academy, she doesn't expect to find herself exactly where she needs to be. After years of strange waking visions and nightmares, her only comfort the bones of dead animals, Faye is afraid she's going crazy. Fast.

But her first night at Holbrook, she feels strangely connected to the school and the island it sits on, like she's come home. She's even made her first real friends, but odd things keep happening to them. Every morning they wake on the floors of their dorm rooms with their hands stained red.

Faye knows she's the reason, but what does it all mean? The handsome Kel tries to help her unravel the mystery, but Faye is certain she can't trust him; in fact, he may be trying to kill her - and the rest of the world too.

Rich, compelling writing will keep the pages turning in this riveting and tautly told psychological thriller.

LC's Take:

Harbinger was a super creepy, darkly mysterious book with amazingly good writing that was also nothing like what I was expecting it to be. It definitely stood out from a lot of other YA fiction out there because it had such a unique and interesting plot twist-- which I'm not going to give away here, because I want you to be just as surprised and taken away as I was if you decide to read it!

Faye has suffered from terrifying visions and nightmares ever since an incident down at the beach when she was a little girl. Her parents think she is going insane. Heck, Faye even thinks she's going crazy. But she never expects her dad to bring her to Holbrook Academy one day, abandoning her to the sadistic tyranny of Dr. Mordoch and the school's "care takers." The craziness only gets worse, as Faye and the members of her new Holbrook "family" start waking up on the floor of their rooms with red stains on their hands and disturbing drawings on the floor...

So let me just start by saying, holy crap was this book creepy! The mystery was done really well and definitely gave me chills-- I mean, people's hands turning red overnight and strange symbols drawn on the floor and a secret diary and talisman hidden in an old library? Add in some screaming statues and an old set of tarot cards with an unnerving poem on the back, and I was seriously on the edge of my seat!

I also really liked Faye's character, mainly because she was smart and completely aware of what was happening to her. She wasn't some clueless, TSTL bimbo who couldn't put two and two together-- she knows something very strange is going on, has been going on for awhile, and she's absolutely determined to figure out what it is. It made the story so much easier to follow because I was reading from the POV of an intelligent character.

The romance in this book was more understated than a lot of other YA books, which I thought was kind of refreshing. There is some romance going on between Faye and Kel, but for the most part it takes a back seat to focus on the mysterious harbinger plot. I think a lot of readers will like Kel's dark, emo-ish vibe but honestly, he didn't really stick with me as a character, and I don't remember all that much about him...

So with that being said, there were some things I didn't like about this book as well. First of all, the questions Faye asks herself are repeated over and over-- and OVER again to the point where I was like, OK give us some freaking answers already! There was a lot of repetition in other places as well that got to be pretty tedious, and about three-quarters of the way through I was starting to wish that the story would just move forward. Now, I'm one of those people who would almost never DNF a book three quarters of the way through unless it was absolutely putting me into a coma-- I'm just OCD like that-- but just to warn the reader: there is a "hump" to get over in this book, that was kind of frustrating.

On top of tedious parts, there were other parts that were (I thought) very overwhelming. Within the last 100 pages or so there was just so much explanation and background info being thrown at me that I started to get a slight headache. Basically, the mystery unravels of who exactly "The Harbinger" is, and what their purpose is, and it all goes back to like, 5,000 years ago! I don't want to give anything away, but the final part of the book was both totally unexpected and a **little** difficult for me to follow. By the end, I had things figured out for the most part, but I was nervous there for a few chapters that I was going to wind up being completely lost!

Harbinger did end on a positive note for me, despite some hang-ups in the middle. And also, the writing was absolutely beautiful, I have to add that! I was really impressed by Sara's writing style. I'm not sure this book is for everyone, but I would go for it if you are looking for something that will give you the creeps for it's darkly disturbing mystery, or if you just want something really different than other YA fiction out there!

~Cover Talk~

What a unique and eye-catching cover to go along with an equally unique and suspenseful book! And not only is it wonderfully different and gets you thinking (um... why is she blind-folded?), it's also a perfect fit for the plot. You know those books where you're like, what the heck does this cover really have to do with the story? Well, as you read this book you'll realize just how much thought went into the design of this cover. Also, I think that the stark paleness of the girl against the deep blue background is really beautiful. Definitely like this one!

LC's Rating:
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Harbinger definitely gets points in my book for creativity and creepiness. This book was nothing like what I had been expecting, and I love being surprised! However, some parts got to be either tedious or overwhelming, which led to confusion. Luckily, things ended on a positive note!

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14 comments:

  1. I love the cover..is this the first in a series? sounds like the writer needs to tighten up the story...maybe book two will be the five this could have been. Your review is fantastic and despite the things you didn't like..i still want to read it..but i think it will be a library pick.

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    1. As far as I know, this is a stand alone book...

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  2. Your reviews are always so great to read -- honest and refreshing! I've given you the stylish blogger award: http://writergrrlreads.blogspot.com/2012/02/stylish-blogger-award.html Thanks for being one of my favourite blogs to read!

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  3. Great review! I've been debating on this book for a while. I think I have it on my list on GR, but I can't remember. It sounds pretty good, but at the same time I'm not sure if I'll ever get around to reading it. Seeing that you liked it and your review is making me interested in it. I think I'll pick it up if I see it at the library soon and try to read it =D

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  4. I really want to read this book. For some reason, I'm drawn to books that take place in boarding schools. Great review!

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    1. I'm the same way about boarding school books!

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  5. Ooh, Lea, this one sounds so good! I'm a fan of creepy reads. :D Despite the issues you had, I think Harbinger sounds GREAT. I'll definitely be giving it a try. :)

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  6. Awesome review. It's a shame about the hump in the middle, because those can be really tedious, but I think I'll still love it--I'm a big fan of creepiness and gorgeous writing. Can't wait to read this one!

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  7. OMG I CAN'T WAIIIIIT. I LOOOVE creepy. I juts got this book this week and I'm SO excited to get to it but I have to get a few ARCs out of the way first. GAAAH!! Your review seriously rocks and makes me want to read it nooooow.

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    1. If you like creepy, this is definitely one you'll like! :)

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  8. Hey I tagged you in a book tag, it is up to you if you want to participate in it or not. No hard feelings if you are not into that sort of thing...If you are interested head over to this url:
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  9. Thanks for the review. I can't wait to read this!

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  10. Ooh, Great review. I really want to read this now!

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