I wrote this review right after finishing the book, and I'm kind of embarrassed to say I liked it. It reminded me a lot of the Twilight books in some ways, with a girl who feels isolated moving to a new place and finding out that she's far more than she could have imagined, and with a similar mood and similar obsessions with boy relationships. That said, I actually liked this book much better because it did a decent job of following its own rules, and because the main character isn't nearly as whiney and self-absorbed as Bella in the Twilight books. I get SO tired of people being told they're strong and remarkable and loving when they really aren't. But in this case, it was true, the lead character Allie actually is all those things, even if she's sort of an unfunny idiot when it comes to boy relationships.
But there are also downsides. For one, the aforementioned boy obsessions. Why, oh why do we need love triangles to keep things interesting? By the end of the book I wasn't as annoyed about the 'third wheel', since it sort of made sense, but for most of the book it felt forced. Then again, the 'second wheel' also felt forced in many ways. There were several times when I thought, Seriously, can you come up with any more reasons why these two would be forced closer together? And then sure enough, there would be another reason. But while this is definitely a downside, and I truly am embarrassed to admit it, I found a sick pleasure in seeing this happen. It was funny. I don't know if I'm somehow losing my maturity and turning into a hormone-driven fifteen-year-old, or if my life has just been chaotic enough that utter nonsense boy-girl tension was appealing, but I found myself laughing several times as the vice was tightened.
The beginning is definitely more forced than the middle and end, as if Miss Craven knew where she wanted to go, but wasn't sure how to get there. I think there could have been more time spent on all the friends getting to know each other, something more to bridge that gap between introductions and best friends, but I'm glad they DID become friends. Once I accepted it, they really did all feel like great friends, family even, but I missed the journey.
The actual point of the story, other than boy tensions, is cool. You have all these amazing characters with amazing gifts and challenges, and I could have spent a lot more time with them. As it was, I had a hard time keeping them straight even though I liked them, and clearly Miss Craven knew them well. I may read the book over again at some point to get a better grip on everything.
The writing itself was engaging, easy to enjoy, and with few typos. Sometimes I got a little confused about who was talking, sometimes I had to wait a couple pages into a conversation to get any context for it, and sometimes there were minor inconsistencies like when her back is to his chest but somehow they're looking into each other's eyes, but overall it was very well done. It met my biggest need in a story, and that is characters that I love to love or love to hate.
Language: Only a few foul words.
Sexual Content: While Miss Craven avoided naming private body parts and detailed encounters, and was very kind not to go on and on about how hot anyone was (have I mentioned before how much I hate that?), there is sexual content. It's skirted around so as not to be graphic (and usually the people are not fully intimate), but it does come up often in the book. It's also kind of convoluted with strangely blended and re-blended families. I don't recommend for young teens.
Violence: There is violence, but none of it seemed serious to me. I mean, if your character's jaw is broken but she can have verbal conversations, how bad can it be? It's one downside to superhuman characters, I suppose, that what happens to them physically doesn't make me feel bad for them.
Diversity: The first and second characters are white, but the friends and family are a happy jumble of colors and ethnicities. One in particular is a central character, and I never got the feeling that the diversity was 'token' in any way. It all made sense, and was important to the story.
Find it here.