I picked this up at the library. The cover is the lips chin and neck of a young girl whose lips are smeared with gold dust. I flip it over and it tells me that Zara is being sent to Maine because her mom fears for her sanity after the death of her step dad but all is not as it seems. I look at those lips and go, bet it’s about fae folk (the newest hottest thing in YA, making me cranky pants at myself for not marketing my elves a little harder in the 90’s). Oh and Zara chants phobias to herself to counteract anxiety.
Okay sounds interesting. Zara is in fact sent to her grandmother Betty in Maine, her step dad’s mom. Her step dad is the only dad she’s ever known and he just died of a heart attack in front of her. She isn’t coping well. However the moment she gets to Maine she sees this guy who was following her in Charleston. He just points to her, stalker like. Grandma Betty is an EMT and is thrilled to have Zara with her but there is one rule. Don’t go out at night.
Her new school is typical high school with Megan (mean girl), Issie (ditzy friendly new friend in the making), Ian (too helpful dude that gives you the feeling he’s looking for something), Nick (the bad boy ooo I must fall for him type) and Devyn (who’s different in that he doesn’t fit the usual mold and is in a wheelchair). Zara finds out that boys are disappearing which might explain Granny’s worries about the night time. It doesn’t explain why someone is following her, leaving behind gold dust.
Naturally, being a YA book, Zara is a bit torn between Nick and Ian but at least she has her two new friends Issie and Devyn and Nick quickly edges out Ian. Together they find out a few things a) Pixies are real and they are mean b) Pixies can be stopped by iron c) Pixies and the weres (shape shifters) are natural enemies d) Pixies want Zara. Heck I knew that much just from the cover.
All in all, Zara is an interesting character so are her friends. The book is a light read and fun in its way but I had some issues with it. Yes I knew exactly who was Pixie and who was a were before I was 30 pages into this so no tension there (then again I’ve been reading this stuff for decades so it’s hard to fool me on it). My real issue with the book is that it’s too fast. All of the characters and the storyline feel like we’re just skimming the surface. No one and nothing has much depth to it. Everything comes too fast and too easy. It didn’t feel fully developed. Zara does any number of stupid things in this (I have to keep reminding myself, she’s a teenaged girl and doesn’t have adult thinking patterns yet). So while I enjoyed it there is definitely something missing. The ending was creative even though I was expecting it. There will be more in this series but I’m not sure if I’ll read them or not.
Hero Tales #3 by Hiromu Arakawa & Huang Jin Zhou
Taitou’s escape from the Imperial palace continues. While he actually had the unexpected effect on bringing the plight of the empire to Taigatei, the boy emperor, Taitou’s escape is going to cost him in a huge way. Keirou and his men are not going to let Taitou escape easily, using both brute force and manipulation to either kill off or turn Taitou’s companions against him. On the face of it, Keirou almost seems to have noble ideals. The current government is corrupt and he is out to bring it down and put up a better one. While there is no doubt that there is corruption and Taigatei isn’t being a leader, Keirou’s actions are very violent and I’m not entirely sure he’s not part of the corruption (it’s hard to tell who is, really. The story is a bit muddy there).
Ryuushou and Ryuukou both end up left behind as Taitou flees. This whole volume is about the cost of his escape and what it means to be one of the stars in the first place. Taitou and Housei are separated from Laila and Rinmei. Taitou has lost all drive and Laila isn’t faring very well either and it all leads down to at least one betrayal.
It’s a hard book to review without giving too much away. It’s also a very hard book to follow sometimes. The storyline is occasionally muddy (I think this is based off a legend that Japanese readers might already know) and the names are atrociously difficult in this since there are just so many, most of them have two different names that get used interchangeably and they are all very close to one another (Ryuushou & Ryuukou for example). Arakawa’s art is still lovely but I’m really disappointed in the fact that the bad guy (from Taitou’s pov) looks exactly like Bradley from FMA with a scar on his face. I have mixed feelings about this one. I like it but it really could be stronger. It relies on a lot of fight scenes and less storytelling.