Saturday, November 19, 2011

How Have We Missed This Author

I get a lot of books sent my way. So many that it seems I can never quite trim down the stack and because of this, I sometimes miss really great reads. Example of my book chaos: I had an advanced copy of Hunger Games sitting on my shelf for a couple of years before realizing it. Crazy right? So, while I do read as many new authors/books as quickly as possible, I often will place them at the bottom of the pile when some of my favorites come in, and so I sometimes am slow to pick up on what a treasure I might have on my desk. This past summer I found one of these treasures and boy am I hooked.

I am usually, ok, always, the recipient of anything that appears to be remotely paranormal or dystopic. While those genres are most definitely not my only fortes, I do thoroughly enjoy them. That being said, I have to wade through a lot of mediocre and sometimes downright awful stuff in order to get to the gems. So it was nothing new when a couple of books from EgmontUSA (division of Random House) were thrown my way. The books were Raised by Wolves and it’s sequel Trial by Fire by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. Normally, these books would sit on or around my desk for months before I would pick them up, but I was in a mood, let’s call it a “werewolf mood” so I dove in. What I was expecting—mediocre paranormal fiction that would give me a quick and easy escape from reality for a couple of hours. What I got—a remarkably original take on the werewolf theme, highly interesting characters, and an unshakeable urge to pick up the sequel right away. Here was a story, not of a girl falling in love with a werewolf (been there, done that), not of a girl becoming a wolf (ditto), but of a girl rescued and raised by a pack of werewolves, developing the same skills, and eventually breaking off to become a leader in her own right—all while remaining human. I’m simplifying it here, but suffice it to say that there was plenty of action and emotion, an engrossing read for fans of the genre. I was actually a bit irritated when I came to the end of Trial by Fire because I couldn’t find out any information when the next book would be coming out. So, I passed on the books to my sister (also a big reader and fan of the genre) and moved on to pick something else from my pile, pretty much forgetting about to two great books I had just read.

Flash forward a couple of months. Every Other Day (release date 12/11) was a book that had been relegated to another pile (this one in my trunk) and then picked up by said sister and passed around to our mother to glowing reviews, finally made it back into my hands for my own reading pleasure. I shouldn’t have been surprised that it was Jennifer Lynn Barnes who wrote the book they had been raving about.

 Every Other Day follows sixteen-year-old Kali who is human one day and something other the next. What is Kali? It’s a question that consumes readers as they devour the story. I’ve never seen a character quite like this before in paranormal fiction. She is unique and the plot is engaging. I couldn’t have been more pleased to have dug this one out of the pile.

 I will put this caveat out for adult readers; the book does not dig deep into character complexity. It skims the surface, where I as a reader would have liked to get a little more information, but, as it’s marketed to teens of the Twilight-type fan base, this should not be a major roadblock to reader enjoyment. It didn’t derail my entertainment—just left a yearning for something a little more, and I guess that’s not such a bad thing. Isn’t that what authors strive for, leave the audience wanting more?

 So, while I highly doubt that I’ll be thinning out my pile anytime soon, it is reassuring to know the possibility that hidden treasures like these three books by Jennifer Lynn Barnes are within its’ depths waiting to be found and enjoyed.

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