Michelle Sagara reminds me of high school, of not having enough money to buy an entire series at once, of saving up my less-than-minimum-wage paychecks to purchase one book at a time. My local library and bookstore didn’t stock Sagara’s Sun Sword series in its entirety, so I bought a book online for the very first time. I was pretty sure that I was going to have my identity stolen, and I was okay with that for the chance to read the next book.
Fast forward to a couple of months ago, when I saw a YA novel with an interesting cover (I say interesting because I don’t entirely like it, though I know many do!) and that author name – Michelle Sagara. Cue nostalgia, curiosity, and a definite desire to see if this author could still hold my attention and draw me into a strange, fantastical world. After reading Silence, I can answer: Yes. Of course.
It began in the graveyard. Ever since her boyfriend Nathan died in a tragic accident Emma had been coming to the graveyard at night. During the day she went through the motions at her prep school, in class, with her friends, but that’s all it was. But tonight was different. Tonight Emma and her dog were not alone in the cemetery. There were two others there—Eric, who had just started at her school, and an ancient woman who looked as though she were made of rags. And when they saw Emma there, the old woman reached out to her with a grip as chilling as death…
Silence is Emma’s story. Sort of. It definitely follows her. But what is this book really? It’s an ensemble, featuring Emma, her fractured little family, friends, random acquaintances, enemies, ghosts, and, of course…her Rottweiler Petal. Yes, you read that right. It’s a different kind of ‘paranormal’ – one that focuses on strange happenings and friendships rather than romance. And I liked it, faults and all.
Pluses: 1) An AWESOME hook that kept me reading past my usual ‘stopping point.’ 2) An intriguing protagonist and kicking side characters – including high-functioning autistic Michael, battering ram rich girl Amy, loyal best friend Allison, loving (dead) father, and the brothers from a different mother. Oh, and 3) An interesting future for the story to keep you wondering long after you’ve finished the book.
Minuses: 1) With so many people ‘on the stage’ in some scenes, the dialogue got muddled in places. 2) Talking for pages during a supposedly short amount of time (i.e. chapter-long conversation in the midst of an emergency). 3) Important characters are introduced rather late in the book.
So, Silence wasn’t perfect. What it was? Written in some beautiful language, compulsively readable, with a hook to reel you in in spite of yourself. I enjoyed it even as I recognized its weak points. And… I can’t wait for more! Want to read it? Enter the giveaway, or purchase it when it releases on May 1st.
Recommended for: fans of well-written paranormal fantasy, those who are interested in ghosts, urban settings, above average young adult lit, and anyone who liked Jennifer Estep’s Touch of Frost or Meg Cabot's Jinx.
Fine print: I received a finished copy of Silence for review from DAW (Penguin) – but no compensation.