Thursday, July 16, 2009


The Healing Wars Book 1: The Shifter
by Janice Hardy
Middle grade fantasy
due October 1st
Review by Alyssa Kirk

The story centers around 15 year old Nya who is a Healer...but with a defect. She can only shift the pain and injury into other people, not the magical stone pynvium. This little 'quirk' is something she and her younger sister, Talia, a normal healer, keep secret because they're not sure if the Duke would have Nya killed or use her as a weapon in his wars.

Soon Nya's secret is uncovered by a nefarious fellow and Talia is in imminent danger. Nya must use her gift in ways she dislikes in order to not only save her sister but other Healers in the league, and foil a political plot that could put the whole town in danger. In the process she also discovers abilities she never knew she had.

The Shifter starts out with a bang and, other than a few slow steps, keeps rolling quickly. Hardy covers a lot of ground. She touches on prejudice, moral choices, what should be given up for the greater good, family/friend loyalty, accepting yourself and others, personal sacrifice, and even throws in a pinch of romance between Nya and the young guard who chases her down in the first couple of pages.

Nya is likeable and believable. She and her little band of friends and family are characters you care for. The reader is routing for them to win in the end. Even the 'bad' guys had some depth and weren't simply two dimensional.

Hardy utilizes good description and some great lines. My favorite was when a ferry accident occurs during a storm and Nya can't get out into the water to help all the survivors. She says, "My heart reached farther than my hands ever could." How beautiful!
Good suspense, nasty political intrigue, a few surprises and a great twist on Nya's abilities. Overall The Shifter is a very enjoyable middle grade novel that is worth the read.

Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac
by Gabrielle Zevin
Young Adult fiction
Available now in paperback
Review by Jake the Girl

I'm not going to lie, I read this book because I liked the cover. I'm glad I did--it's so engrossing, I couldn't put it down. Sixteen-year-old Naomi falls down the stairs one day, and when she wakes up she is in an ambulance with a tall, dark stranger--and she has no memory of the last four years of her life. As she tries to figure out who she has become during those years, she finds herself living two lives: the old Naomi, who had some hobbies (and a boyfriend) that the new Naomi isn't so sure about; and the new Naomi who can't stop thinking about that boy in the ambulance. I liked this book because it asked a question that I'd never thought about: if you could go back to the person you were at age twelve, with no recollection of the intervening years, would you be happy with who you had become?

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