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…Still drying my eyes from this one. Adam Wilde, new-fangled rockstar, spews raw emotion with every thought and action leading up to his reunion with Mia Hall, a music lover of the Classical Cellist kind and the first and only love of his life. The first book, If I Stay, was told from Mia’s perspective: the novel opens with the car crash that smote her entire family, save herself. Adam’s racing thoughts, confusion, and heartache resonate following the couple’s breakup when Mia leaves Oregon for Juilliard. Though he has the life every aspiring star craves–celebrity girlfriend Bryn, record deals, two Grammys, sold-out shows–Adam finds himself on pills and smokes to temper the pain of an inexplicable void, a void that even his beloved music can’t fill. How can you let the person you love go at the time you need each other most? After more than three years, Adam still finds life wanting. He sees her eyes every time he closes his own. Her voice is only a memory, but he can’t stop himself from listening for it.
You’re really rooting for this guy, even though it’s clear that Adam is reaping what he sowed during those heart-wrenching moments before Mia began to wake from her coma. His whirlwind of emotions is realistic without superimposing on the plot, which is an allegory for his own life journey. Mia drags Adam on a scavenger hunt of her favorite NYC haunts as an introduction for Adam and her own farewell to the city she loves; Adam revisits key memories, interprets Mia’s words, and puzzles out the truth about their breakup, traveling on his own scavenger hunt of self-discovery. In both novels, Forman’s deftly transforms his character from the concerned “man”; to the rockstar “guy” on the brink of mental collapse; to the genuine person that Adam always has been. Where She Went is a complex and wholly satisfying work of YA literature.
Camden Pike is still reeling from the car crash that should have killed him instead of his girlfriend, Viv. He spends most of his time on the street corner where she died, chain smoking and dwelling on the past. She should never have been taken from him. As months pass and he continues to resist help from his therapist and his mostly-absent mother, Cam finally becomes fed up and throws his zippo (a gift from Viv) into the bushes by the memorial. When he returns to retrieve it, he notices a glowing green light and hears a voice. A girl appears through a portal, cast in the creepy green light. Her name is Nina, and she’s lost; Cam’s world looks and feels the same as Nina’s, but it’s very different. Cam helps her home only to discover that in Nina’s world, Viv’s alive. How can he resist seeing her again–being with her again? Despite Nina’s warnings and begs to avoid her, Camden can’t help sneaking away to see her; but he’s not very happy when he learns the truth about the crash.
This book had so much potential. Camden’s rough cursing and angst seem forced; there was definitely a better way to convey his grief and anger than Hainsworth’s approach to dialogue. After reading this, I would love to see this in a series of letters to Viv from Camden. It would give readers a real opportunity to get inside Cam’s head and hear his raw emotions with a specific audience in mind. I wish there had been more about Cam’s life and Nina’s, too, in the book. A lot of it was Cam recovering from the crash and sorting out his feelings, which was great, but there’s more to life than that. What about family? Friends? Future plans? Cam was mostly having a psychotic episode during this book. I didn’t find too many redeeming qualities in him as a character. The science fiction element was unfulfilled, too. More exploration with the idea of other worlds and portals would have spiced this up a bit. Overall, an entertaining read, but for a more substantial love story, try some Nicholas Sparks.
In this sizzling sequel to Storm in the Elemental Series, Gabriel Merrick destroys everything he touches–including anything flammable. His family and friends are Elementals, too, meaning they each have some control over an element. But Gabriel’s element is fire, the most volatile and terrifying to manipulate. And when fires mysteriously begin all over Annapolis, MD, Gabriel is the prime suspect. While he struggles to harness his powers, Gabriel is in danger of failing high school. He has leaned on his twin brother, Nick, for Math homework and tests since middle school, switching places so that Gabriel’s teachers never know the difference. This new Math teacher knows his tricks, however, and forces Gabriel to own up to his education.
In a moment of confusion on a surprise Math test, Layne Forrest, the unimposing and forgettable girl sitting next to Gabriel, fixes his test for him and offers to help him catch up. Gabriel has more in common with Layne than he knows; she has a devastating history with fire, too. Readers follow their romance as it unfolds over a span of two weeks, falling in love with the characters and feeling first love all over again.
Gabriel’s frustration with school, friends, and his abilities are easy to relate to. We’ve all felt overwhelmed, wishing our responsibilities were someone else’s problem. It’s encouraging to watch Gabriel begin to make the right choices for himself and those closest to him as he grows as a person and in love, discovering his identity and place in the world. A solid paranormal romance to warm the heart.