*s p o i l e r f r e e r e v i e w*
The time I huddled into my cozy sheets, & slid past the first page. It’s dark outside.
The time a car screeches. The odour of burnt rubber fills my nose. A girl dies.
The time a pair of eyes watch. An alarm goes off. The girl wakes up.
Hello there reader!
Let’s do things a litttle differently today,yeah? You want to know what this story is about? Well, there’s an excerpt for that. I’ve set the scene, beginning with the characters-
CHARACTER SKETCH’S :
A yellow bird hangs perched on a swing.
A lemon headed boy, his bloodshot eyes bereft of it’s prescribed glasses, his cheek smashed to a linoleum floor, big boots stomp on a crumpled sheet circled A+ as bright as blood, white lights glare harshly above, the cackle of teenage snickering pings of the walls.
An old lady in dressed in pearls.
A lightening bolted girl, She’s got a beanie pulled down low, underneath lies a smooth shaved head, her lips pulled thin into a wicked smile, the sound of scull shattering like eggshells on a mortal wall trails behind her. What’s her number? 8.
A gold ring spins on a sunburnt finger.
A chubby boy, with a chubby heart. He swipes out one of his 3 EFTPOS cards, It’s thursday today he mutters to himself as he speedials in haste, McDonalds, May I take your order? Screeches a sterile, cherry voice the only sound in an otherwise empty house. Broken glass crunches beneath shoe-laced feet, pungent fumes of vodka expunge the air, a dead mother lies in rotting dirt somewhere.
A baby cries, her veins run purple, she is not heard.
An angry boy, a raven boy. Yellow Yellow Yellow smudges the edge of his glacier dark green vision, Yellow the putrid smell of urine, Yellow the colour of his mothers sallow skin, Yellow the head of his bird here, Yellow the body of his bird there. Feathers float, white & bright in the yellow sun. Only darkness grips his head.
A parchment is signed, the ink is still wet.
A girl. You see her on a bus, ears plugged to Rihanna as she nods mutely to a painted mouth that jabbers animatedly, her eyes a kaleidoscopic scattering of golds, greens, disinterest & affection- She is amused. You see a man in a uniform with a worried crinkle as the girl warily crouches away from him. A teacher that sit’s besides her correcting homework, a lamp cocooning them into a warm glow. A brother with a bleeding arm she cradles in her own…
These are our characters.
& there is 1 other.
One who is merely Master. One whom we utter not the name of, An evil so fearsome, so ancient- ( nope, not Voldemort. Think Vamp.Viktor from The Underworld series) Essentially, he’s the big bad. You know, your regular egomaniac who eat’s babies for breakfast, the whole shindig.
This is a story of espionage & murder. Of deceit & manipulations. Of predators & fresh beginnings. It’s also a love story. Which I’d really rather it wasn’t. Grand Theft Auto meets Highschool Romance.
- Boy Meets Girl ( Note how I say, Boy *meets* Girl )
- Boy comes from a negligent, drug addled home, until one day he’s abducted from said home by a creepy old ghoulish man. Now surely as expected, this Beastly “rescue” ensures Boy a wholesome, joyous & functional upbringing ahead- not. He’s brainwashed & endures-quite literally-daily physical & constant psychological abuse, obviously the poor kid has issues, like say, stalking a girl by making house right u
pon the tree facing her bedroom window! Granted there is context to this, But still! Somebody needed to tell him you can’t just stare somebody into loving you! errr oh wait-
- Girl meets Boy
- Girl ofcourse comes from the perfect little family, she’s nothing extraordinary ( oh so you think ) Ofcourse she’s never crushed on anybody in her whole 15 point whatever years, because boys are gross ew! Yet she literally professes her eternal love for him after a single lunchline interaction.
- What further ensures is a whole lot of murder, gore & playing hookey. Nefarious plans are conjured , as our 2 lovebirds get to know each others favourite colours. Somewhere along our Girl pulls a sacrificial ( but relatively sensible ) Bella, & more killing, some handholding amidst ass kicking & X-Men style telekinetic stunts, the day is saved, & just before the last 2 pages draw to a close some ambiguous dialogue makes for an intriguing twist-
- to be continued
WHAT I WISH HAD BEEN DIFFERENT:
I actually had only 3 main problems & They’re all interlinked.
- Had the book been longer, I think all of these issues could have been rectified
I wish it were just the story of our band of misfits. Just a tale of evil vs good & the grey sheen that cloaks them both, with just a hint of a blooming romance.
2. Unfleshed-Out Characters
Perhaps if it was a multiple POV throughout, ( & this is really surprising coming from me, Who A. Loves love. B. Dislikes flashbacks. C. Dislikes Multiple POV’s ) Had the romance & Gabby not been the sole focal point, perhaps all these amazing characters would get the fleshing out they truly deserve.
For how much depth our characters are given, hardly any of it is progressively utilised. We’d be treated to flashbacks of the Past, but then we’d get the vaguest, most inconclusive passing sentences regarding them in the Present narrative. I don’t understand! Why create these delicious, tiramisu layers to your characters, If you’re simply going to hollow them out & leave them to waste?! It baffles me, But only because I really loved them.
3. Unaddressed Trauma
I really hope Noah & gang get professional psychological help. They’re just kids dealt out a really rotten hand. People who have been abused to quite the extent they have,Don’t just magically heal & are able to sustain functional relationships. I give this issue the benefit of the doubt though, As Book 1 is more introductory & centred around world building. I hope eventually this will be dealt with.
WHAT I LIKED ABOUT IT:
- The dichotomy between dark & light, highschool drama besides underworld shenanigans was oddly appealing.
- The portrayal of healthy, strong relationships amidst our protagonist & her family was a refreshing relief. I loved how involved, realistic & consciousness they were.
- Obviously my favourite parts were the flashbacks. They were utterly compelling & such a treat to unfold.
- I appreciated how normal Gabby was. That may sound odd, But she felt like an actual teenager. One not merely confined to “Jock”, “Emo”, “Mean Girl” parameters.
- The way these subtle threads of plot possibilities emerge, woven throughout the book, was quite intriguing & tastefully done.
- I especially liked that even the Villain was delved into, & that we get a sneak peak into what makes a man like him? what is it that drives him? & could it be that his seemingly random actions, have a premeditated intent?
- It made sense to me that all that was at stake conspired with the scale of events that transpire. There’s thankfully no cliche “The Entire World Is At Stake” nonsense. That takes substantial building up, Out of context it’s rather ridiculous.
- I liked that the details regarding Xaveriques- Who are they? Rather What are they? What can they do? & How did they come to be? is so smoothly presented. It all made for a compact, simple & self explanatory unveiling.
IF YOU LIKE THAT, YOU WILL LIKE THIS:
Overall it was a very quick & fast paced read. If you enjoy books like The Revenant Series by Amy Plum, The Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer, films like X-Men, Buffy The Vampire Slayer or The Underworld series, You definitely should check out Choosing Xaverique
Rating : 3/5
Genre : ya . fantasy . romance
Ages : 13+
Mature Content : violence & gore
Pages : 150
Sequel : Betraying Xaverique available here.
LET ME KNOW:
Are you intrigued? Is Choosing Xaverique a book you’d usually go for?
BOOK SOURCE :
received a copy from the author Karyn Sepulveda in exchange for a honest review.