Saturday, 16 February 2013

The Holders

Author: Julianna Scott
Genre: Young Adult (YA), supernatural
Type: e-book, Advanced Reading Copy (ARC)
Series: 1st book in The Holders series
Source: NetGalley
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Publishing Date: March 5, 2013
First Line: "The moment I saw Ryland's silhouette in the window of our old tree house, I knew something was wrong."

Description from Publisher: 17-year-old Becca has spent her whole life protecting her brother, Ryland - from the hurt he feels after their father left as well as from the people who say the voices in Ryland's head are unnatural. When two strangers appear with apparent answers to Ryland's "problem" and details about a school called St Brigid's in Ireland where Ryland will not only fit in, but prosper, Becca is up in arms.

She reluctantly agrees to join Ryland on his journey and what they find at St. Brigid's is a world beyond their imagination. Little by little they piece together information about their family's heritage and the legend of the Holder race that decrees Ryland is the one they've been waiting for... but, they are all, especially Becca, in for a surprise that will change what they thought they knew about themselves and their kind.

My Thoughts: This was a good start to a new YA series.  It has an interesting premise regarding supernatural powers and set in beautiful Ireland.  The addition of Ireland's Celtic mythology, history and the beautiful Gaelic language set this book apart for me. 

One of the things that had me wanting to get my hands on this book was the overall premise.   I think it was because it had a very X-Men feel to it.   Surprisingly, the major similarities didn't put me off but made me want to read this book even more. In The Holders we have a boarding school for 'special' kids set up by a brilliant and talented man, Jocelyn (ie. Professor X). In the past, Jocelyn knew a man Darragh (the Magneto of the book) who felt that the supernatural powers that were granted to these special few by the Irish gods should be used to gain power over mere mortals. Jocelyn vehemently disagrees and there lies the main conundrum. Very X-men, good vs evil, mutant versus mortal, right?
As I said, I don't have a problem with the X-Men similarities (which kind of surprised me).  But ... if you're going to do a supernatural book I expect to see a lot of supernatural powers in the book.  Unfortunately I felt like we just got a little hint at the powers that some of these Holders possess.  This book was rather meek in showcasing the unique powers that these Holders possessed.

As for the characters?  While I did like Becca and Alex as main characters it was a certain secondary character who stood out and made me want to keep reading.  My favourite has to be Jocelyn, the rather mysterious headmaster of St Brigid's.  We're given a glimpse into who he is but I'm really looking forward to seeing where his storyline goes (as well as learning more about his history). And yes, Jocelyn is a male. I will freely admit that I had never heard of using Jocelyn as a male name before (and was a little confused when he was first introduced) but apparently Jocelyn was originally a male name. Huh.  Learned somethin' new.

While Becca and Alex were good main characters there were a few things that irked me a bit about them.  Becca, for all her graduating high school at the age of 15, didn't come off as all that smart or mature.  She seemed to be very obsessed with her little brother, Ryland and put off when he finally found a place and friends who accepted him.

Alex, while a very likable character, was a much more innocent leading man than I was expecting but I will admit that he balanced Becca's character well.  While their relationship progressed rather quickly, I did find it sweet and I 'got' their connection.  I appreciate the fact that Ms Scott didn't allow their relationship to overpower the storyline or become too saccharine/cheesy. 

While Becca and Alex's relationship was well written my favourite relationship (and I feel the most authentic) was Becca's relationship with Jocelyn.  I liked that it was very rocky and I look forward to seeing how their relationship progresses as the overall story unfolds in future books.

Overall, the story flowed very well and I think that's what helped keep my attention even though the story was rather predictable.  Would I have liked more drama and action in the storyline?  Yes, definitely.  I do like to be on the edge of my seat with this kind of read and wasn't quite there until the very end of the book.

As you can see I kind of went back and forth with this book.  I liked parts of it, enjoyed reading the book overall but there were some weaker spots as well.  Ms Scott has written an intriguing first book of her series and while I feel this book lacked in a couple of areas I am interested enough to see where she'll be taking her characters in future books. 

Note: My sincere thanks to Angry Robot and NetGalley for providing me with this complimentary e-book copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

My Rating: 3.5/5 stars


Em said...

Hi Laurie,
I just stumbled across your blog and it looks great. Books and baking - it's like peanut butter and jelly. I enjoy your review style as well. You address the character issue well and make some good points.

Best Pocket Knives said...

This sounds great is it published yet or did you get an early reading copy?

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