Sunday, October 9, 2011
Becoming by Raine Thomas
Published 2011, Kindle Edition, app. 295 pages.
I tried to write my own synopsis, but the author says it so much better. From Goodreads:
Every three years, Amber Hopkins explodes. Okay, not a blown-to-smithereens explosion, but whatever it is always hurts like hell and leaves her life a shambles. She’s already worked her way through five foster placements, and she’s doing whatever she can to avoid getting blasted into a sixth.
As her eighteenth birthday approaches and she feels the strange and powerful energy building, disaster looms. When the inevitable explosion occurs, her life gets its biggest shakeup yet. She’ll not only learn how her fellow foster and best friend, Gabriel, really feels about her, but she’ll discover that she isn’t really without family.
To top it all off, she’ll finally find out why she’s having the power surges: she isn’t entirely human.
Amber must Become, transitioning to another plane of existence and risking the loss of the most important relationship she’s ever had. Her choice will impact the future of an entire race of beings, and will pit her against an enemy that will prey upon her doubt to try and take her very life.
Kind of makes the explosions now seem like a cakewalk.
It's great, isn't it? I had my eye on this trilogy for a while, but a sale for 99 cents made me pick up the first one about a month ago. I got the chance to finally start reading it on Friday, and I finished it last night. The story starts off with a great, endearing romance that sucked me in right away. Of course there was some stuff before that, but Gabriel and Amber's relationship was so enjoyable to read.
There's a healthy balance of mystery surrounding Amber's strange origins and we also get the chance to see the people who know more than Amber and the reader. Amber and Gabriel are both really likable while still having flaws. Actually, I take that back -- I can't think of any flaws in Gabriel yet! He's not your typical controlling, secretive, dark YA love interest. I don't really understand the appeal of YA novels that have an ordinary girl trying to find out the supernatural secret of her crush. I like YA where the girl has the secret, or she at least has something going on, too -- books like Unearthly by Cynthia Hand, The Talent Chronicles by Susan Bischoff, Solstice by PJ Hoover, and now Becoming by Raine Thomas.
About halfway through, things slow down a bit with a hefty infodump. I'm not sure how this could have been done differently, but I only retained part of the knowledge I know I'm supposed to have. I need an Estilorian encyclopedia or something because I can't keep track of all the different classes and histories and planes of existence (wait, there are only two, right?). Note to self: Google to see if there is something like this. (Found something on her website! Spoilers for Becoming, obviously)
After said infodump, the pace is back up and running. Amber and Gabriel are faced with big choices and are soon heading to the Estilorian plane of existence to save the people, though I don't really know how. Honestly, I might need to run over certain parts again because I was reading so quickly because it was such a fun read.
I don't want to spoil anything, but I'll just say that I really liked the Estilorian plane. I liked the description (though sometimes it bordered on too much) and the very different field of the world. It's evident the author gave these people a distinct culture and traditions and really thought it through. I could definitely take a page or two from her book on worldbuilding, which I usually put on the back burner.
The ending climax was pretty cool -- some great action scenes with the girls really kicking ass. I'm excited for the next book, and I wish I would have bought it at 99 cents when I had the chance! But I'm happy to support a self-published author with the hefty fee of $2.99 ;)
In short, I recommend this trilogy for fans of YA fantasy, especially readers who enjoy romance, male love interests who are gentlemen, interesting female protagonists, and strong worldbuilding. A great addition to YA fantasy.