The Holders by Julianna ScottWoah, my feelings about this one were all over the place when I finished it. On the one hand, The Holders was definitely not the book I was expecting or that the synopsis made it sound like it would be. When I first read the synopsis, my first thought was : cool like teen X-Men! I figured it would have more of a fantasy feel, rather then sci-fi. I wasn't wrong about that bit but I had seriously overestimated how big of a role the actual paranormal elements would have. To me this read like a YA romance with some paranormal elements mixed in there. I also thought the pacing could have been a bit more balanced. That being said, I was impressed by the concise storytelling style used by author Julianna Scott and the well-developed & likeable characters did a good job of keeping me interested. I think if I had known what to expect I might have enjoyed it more. It's always tough when expectations don't meet reality...
Published March 5th 2013 by Strange Chemistry
17-year-old Becca spent her whole life protecting her brother from, well, everything. The abandonment of their father, the so called 'experts' who insist that voices in his head are unnatural and must be dealt with, and the constant threat of being taken away to some hospital and studied like an animal. When two representatives appear claiming to have the answers to Ryland's perceived problem, Becca doesn't buy it for one second. That is until they seem to know things about Ryland and about Becca and Ryland's family, that forces Becca to concede that there may be more to these people than meets the eye. Though still highly skeptical, Becca agrees to do what's best for Ryland.
What they find at St. Brigid's is a world beyond their imagination. Little by little they piece together the information of their family's heritage, their estranged Father, and the legend of the Holder race that decrees Ryland is the one they've been waiting for. However, they are all--especially Becca--in for a surprise that will change what they thought they knew about themselves and their kind.
She meets Alex, a Holder who is fiercely loyal to their race, and for some reason, Becca and Ryland. There's an attraction between Becca and Alex that can't be denied, but her true nature seems destined to keep them apart. However, certain destinies may not be as clear cut as everyone has always believed them to be.
The Holders tells the story of children with special powers. One such example is Becca's little brother Ryland how can hear voices. Becca has had to protect him his whole life from people who wanted to 'help' Ryland, but only wanted to have him locked up or medicated. So when two officials from St. Brigid's Academy show up at their doorstep & convince their mom to allow Ryland to attend their school for other children with abilities similar to Ryland, Becca goes into over-protective overdrive. She convinces the officials to let her tag along so she can be sure they can be trusted. Together, the travel across the ocean and begin to discover an entire race of 'Holders', other people like Ryland who have special abilities. They learn that their estranged father has secrets of his own among this world, and as Becca begins to piece together pieces of her family history - she also begins to fall for Alex, a Holder who's oddly loyal to her and the rest of her family. And just as things couldn't get any more weird, they do. And Becca will never be the same again.
So, as I'm writing this I'm still undecided as to what I thought of The Holders as a whole. I decided that writing my review might clear some things up & I figured outlining what I liked & what I didn't seemed like the simplest way to go so here it is.
-On the plus side:
- As the first book in a planned series, there is enough potential here for me to want to read on. I felt like the story-telling was very concise and effective, never overly-descriptive or lacking.
- The characters were all likeable and came off genuine. I especially liked the MC Becca. She was level-headed, noble & loyal though she could be rash even temperamental it never caused me to get really annoyed or frustrated with her. In fact it made her all the more real to me. I thought her common sense and judgement a refreshing change from some of the more impulsive or brash female MC 's in YA lit.
- The focus on her brother and his powers also gave the story a different feel than the usual. And as seen from Becca's eyes as a normal albeit advanced older sister. Sometimes a little detail like that can give a book a whole new feel.
- On the surface, I liked the concept of 'Holders' and how their powers could be controlled with sciaths (special stones or gems worn on the person help hone & direct different abilities)
- I LOVED the whole 'Boarding School' bit of it all. Especially the fact that the boarding school was in Ireland!
- There were some beautiful passages about love & destiny at around 70% that had me highlighting in my kindle like crazy. Just really touching prose and effective wording to have me impressed with Julianna Scott's writing style, especially for a debut novel!
- The special powers & the Holders elements really took a backseat to the potential romance that slowly emerges, and while the romance was fairly well developed and by no means insta-love, it just wasn't what I was expecting & it threw me off
- There is not a lot of action in this one. At all. The first half of it not much happens to be honest. It was still compelling to read but I can see readers getting frustrated. I'll admit when I reached 50% I was like:nothing of substance has happened. And then BAM! Stuff started going down at around 51-52%!
- While the love story was cute & I found it well developed, it was still kind of vanilla & I can see some people being put off by the whole thing. For me, the issue was that the whole 'romance-aspect' seemed to be the big focus of the plot. I was expecting a paranormal read with some light romance sprinkled in. Instead, I got a romance heavy read with a little bit of paranormal sprinkled in.
- The actual variety of special abilities used isn't overly original. Don't expect to be blow away by their types or even the usage. Though the fresh-take on everything including concept of 'the Holders' and the usage of sciaths may be enough for some, it may not be for everyone.
My rating : 2.5 out of 5 stars ★★☆☆☆
*A copy of this book was provided via Netgalley in exchange for a honest review. Big thanks to Strange Chemistry for the copy*