Welcome to another Double-Dip review, in which we select a few books of note and thrust them forcefully into the condiment of revieweriness. Today I have two indie YA titles for you – one dealing with attacks on a united group from supernatural forces and the other dealing with a horrifying attack on two family groups and how they deal with the aftermath. Let’s get dipping!
When Tyler and Chris find a half-drowned girl in their fishing nets, they know it’s going to be a strange morning. The girl, Reese, while recovering in Chris’s fishing shack is able to summon a sword from thin air to destroy a demonic bat that flies through the window to attack her and that’s when the boys know – Reese is part of the Oneness. Mysterious and deeply empathic, the Oneness is a group of individuals who are all connected to the Spirit, and have the ability and responsibility to defend ordinary humans from attacks from demonic forces. But Reese claims to be an exile from the Oneness and this causes her untold grief. Uncertain what to do, Tyler and Chris consult Chris’s mother Diane, who in turn calls in the local Oneness cell. It’s apparent to all that there is something odd going on with Reese and when another member of the local cell goes missing, it is up to Tyler and Chris to jump into the fray and help the Oneness to find the source of the danger. But while the Oneness possess all manner of paranormal abilities that give them the edge on the humans, this time the danger may be emanating from within.
…an action-packed paranormal romp that also features elements of spirituality and mystery. This book was pitched as a “Christian paranormal fantasy” novel, but while there are undoubtedly elements that could be interpreted from a Christian context, they certainly needn’t be in order to understand the story. Those looking for the Christian flavour will certainly find it, but there is no explicit mention of Christian religion in the text, so those just hoping to enjoy a paranormal action-adventure shouldn’t be put off by any fear of overt spiritual preachiness or anything of that nature.
The plot rolls along quickly and while I struggled a little in the beginning pinning down some of the paranormal elements (as indeed, did some of the characters), the whole concept of the Oneness and how it works is explained well over the course of the book. The characters are reasonably well-developed, with identifiable flaws, and as we discover more about the back stories of certain individuals we are given hints as to how the mystery might play out, before an action-filled climax.
Don’t dip if…
…you don’t like characters spending fair amounts of time engaged in various methods of soul-searching. There’s quite a bit of introspection going on throughout the plot as some characters try to figure out who they are (or who they are meant to be) and others attempt to atone for past mistakes. If you’re not into that, I can imagine that certain parts of the story could end up quite irritating for you.
Overall Dip Factor:
I was happily engaged with this tale after the learning curve of the first few chapters and I appreciated the balance that the author has achieved between character development and relationships between characters, and demon-slaying, sword-swinging action. There’s also a mystery to solve involving Reese and her original cell that adds a nice bit of intrigue and depth to the last few chapters of the book. The ending is a bit of a cliffhanger, but as the other four books in the cycle have already been released, those who get sucked in to the story will be able to satisfy their curiosity without a long wait. I’d certainly recommend this to lovers of YA paranormal who are looking for something a bit out of the ordinary in the genre.
Now onto The Singing Sand Story by Aussie indie author David Chattaway. The edition I received is an anthology of the two parts of the story, Singing Sand and Quietus.
Jamal has finally found a safe home with the Nelson family after a traumatic incident did for both his parents. While on a family camping holiday with the Nelson family and their friends the Thompsons, Mary, the Nelson’s eldest daughter, is brutally attacked by two men. As Jamal and Michael, one of the Thompsons, attempt to get Mary to safety, the boys come across the men who attacked Mary and give chase. As events spiral out of control with deadly consequences, the families must band together and make life-changing decisions in an instant in order to stay alive.
In Quietus, as the families recover from the traumatic events of their camping trip, Jamal’s past unexpectedly catches up with him. With his family plunged into danger once again, Jamal struggles to understand why this stranger is threatening his life. As the reasons become clear, Jamal must once again decide how far he is prepared to go to protect those he loves.
Dip into it for…
…a fast-paced drama that plunges its characters into an unimaginable situation – twice. There’s some real thriller material in these two short novels as two families are essentially taken hostage and threatened for reasons that are not immediately clear. The relationships between the characters are well-developed, although much of Jamal’s back story is a mystery even to him, and the plot unfolds like a chain of dominoes, with one decision affecting the next until the characters are between a rock and a hard place, having to make decisions that no reasonable person would want to face.
Don’t dip if…
…you aren’t a fan of real-life (as opposed to fantasy) violence in young adult books. These two stories have quite a bit of violence, and particularly, in the first book, violence against a young girl. If that’s not something you are prepared to encounter in your reading, you should best move swiftly on.
Overall Dip Factor:
This is another unexpected and original contribution to the YA genre. It may just be that I don’t read a lot of contemporary fiction that features scary, real-life situations, but I suspect that there isn’t a great deal of it out there and so The Singing Sand Story is definitely worth a look. Apart from the action in the plot, there is also plenty of food for thought regarding how young people in traumatic situations go about healing and recovering from such events, and how difficult decisions can impact on identity. I’d recommend this one to YA lovers who are looking for something more gritty and realistic in their contemporary fiction.
So it’s been a week of indie contributions so far and I hope I’ve inspired you to step away from the big publishers once in a while to check out the little guys.
Until next time,