Whoopsie doodle--I've been doing so much reading I feel like I've dropped off on my blogging. The worst part is the feeling that there were books I wanted to review but let slide away before I remembered to. That's incredibly depressing to me, for reasons I'm not quite sure of.
Also, more vaguely, I feel like I'm a better blogger when I write while I'm reading instead of after. My straight-up reviews always feel forced, and I'm terrible at summaries. I need to start writing while reading more. Note to self taken.
Okay, here's what Goodreads cut me off from yesterday--two more mini-reviews before we swing into the Diversiverse!
The Naturals, by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. This one is perfect for a mini-review, because there's not a lot to say; it's about the unlikely scenario of a teenaged girl being invited to participate in an FBI pilot program in which particularly perceptive young people are trained up to be profilers. This was the exact equivalent of a very special episode of Criminal Minds starring the cast of Beverly Hills, 90210. It was that profound, edgy, and literary, but on the plus side, it was that watchable--sorry, I mean readable.
(Aside: Criminal Minds is replacing Jeanne Tripplehorn with Jennifer Love Hewitt. I think this might be the end of the affair, especially if J Love wears her eyelashes and her backup eyelashes on the first day.)
Where was I? Oh, yes, Cassie was raised by her stage-psychic mom until she disappeared in a big puddle of blood and was presumed murdered. Now, at 17, she works for the FBI with some other perceptive wunderkindz, learning to profile. Only cold cases, though, or else it would be unethical or something, except then THE CRIME COMES TO THEM and NOW ITS PERSONAL and also there are two cute boys who are both hot for her. Yeah, it was YA, but there was profiling and I read it like lightening. And I already have the ARC of the sequel, so expect more!
Locke & Key. I finished it. Joe Hill, Gabriel Rodriguez. Holy crap. I can't believe I haven't posted about this yet. The last volume is called Alpha & Omega, and it's nuts and scary and oh, so satisfying.
Okay, I haven't written anything, and I don't know how to talk about the whole thing. Basically, the Locke family moves back to the ancestral homestead after their father, Randall Locke, was killed by one of his students (guidance counselor). Mom's drinking too much; Ty, a senior in high school, blames himself for his father's death; Kinsey, a few years younger, can't stop crying; Bode is only seven but has gone strange and quiet. They're hoping that starting over in the town where their dad grew up but they've never been will help, somehow.
When they move into the big old house called Keyhouse, strange things start to happen, and the kids realize that the house comes with a set of keys with magic powers. They experiment and change their lives a little with them, make new friends and try to move on a bit. But something wants the power and will stop at nothing to get it. (Cliche much? I told you I can't do summaries.)
Anyway, the book is really an amazing account of grieving--Kinsey wants to stop crying and when she uses the head key--you can open up your head and take out a memory or thought or feeling--to remove her fear and weeping, she appears stronger, ready to take on anything. But this leads her to make some risky choices and hurt some of her friends. Bode likes to use the death key, which lets you drift around as a spirit (while your body lies there dead) and then return to your body later. The cycles each person goes through of strength and weakness, of starting to get a handle on their grief and then being overwhelmed again, are really powerful.
For the first few volumes, I found the most frustrating thing to be that we were following most of the story from the point of view of the bad guy, who the kids don't even know exists. I mean, they have no idea that there's anyone out to hurt them, any bigger agenda, any larger playing field. Watching him manipulate them when not only do they not know he's the enemy, they don't even know there is an enemy, was one of the most effective and frustrating uses of dramatic irony I've read.
This was a tight story that fit together perfectly--the historical material (from the Revolution, and from Randall's childhood) added enormously to the modern story, both with information and with emotional tension. There's no extra, and everything builds toward the climax.
As for the ending, it did everything I needed it to. There was a lot of loss, and a lot of death, but at the very end, we're given back just enough to boost us up. And seriously, the Touching Parental Moment is not my favorite trope, but damn if this one didn't make me cry.
Highly, highly recommend.