I love discovering new authors, so I've resolved that in 2013, I'll go through my review requests and pick something to try each month. For February, I'm featuring:
by Christina Daley
Self-published on February 12, 2012
Source: e-copy from author. My FTC disclosure is in the right sidebar.
Connect with the author on: her blog : twitter : facebook.
Summary (from Goodreads:) Mary is part Vietnamese. Carter is a complete jerk. Normally, they don't talk much. But when Mary's in an accident on the way to school one morning, Carter nearly dies saving her life. The doctors say his chances of living are slim, and Mary's feeling the full weight of survivor's guilt. However, Carter's back at school in a matter of days, as if nothing had happened. Although, he is a little "glitchy," and he's developed a sudden and intense interest in Mary. She thinks he's suffering from major brain trauma from the accident. Or that he's been possessed. As it so happens, Carter really is possessed. And the thing controlling him is having the time of its life learning to be human.
Featuring a diverse cast of characters, RADIANT is a funny "paranormal-lite" story about being human, being in love, and being healed.
What appealed to me about Radiant: Christina's pitch was friendly yet professional. I loved the idea of a main character with Vietnamese heritage, and I was intrigued by the whole "jerk who suddenly saves the girl's life and could be possessed."
My take: There were a lot of things I enjoyed about Radiant. Mary is a main character I hadn't seen before. Her mother's family is Vietnamese, and both Mary's mother and grandmother are a huge part of her life. I really enjoyed learning about these three generations of her family. Mary is also an artist with an interest in astronomy, and loves to look at the sky through a telescope on the roof of her building. She's seventeen, but her voice felt younger than that to me, more like a tween. She's not your typical snarky, rebellious teen. She's quite earnest, and struggles a little academically, but is obviously smart.
Mary doesn't have a ton of friends at school. So when her popular classmate Carter not only saves her life, but starts following her around like a lost puppy, she's confused and curious. Carter's friends write off his weird behavior as a result of his near-death experience, but Mary has a bunch of different theories about what might have happened to him and starts investigating. Post-accident, Carter comes off sort of like an even more robotic Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory.While I liked this part of the book, it did feel a little long -- we're kept in the dark for a long time about exactly what the deal is with Carter and the tension begins to wane a bit. On the plus side, new Carter and Mary begin to seem like two quirky people who are perfect for each other.
By the end of the book, all is revealed and a several other sub-plots and secondary characters-- Mary's missing father, the murder of a woman in the neighborhood, and a weird janitor -- are all neatly wrapped up. Though I felt that a lot of the action was loaded into the last few chapters, I thought that the author did an excellent job tying a bunch of seemingly disparate plot elements together in a way that made complete sense.
To me, Radiant had a sweet -- if slightly young for YA -- voice and romance, a twist that kept me guessing, and a slight drag in the pacing that was redeemed by a well-crafted ending. If this sounds like something you'd enjoy, definitely give Radiant a try.