Paranormal Young Adult
Received from author for review
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Nalena Maxwell has been branded ‘The Waste’ at her new school, due to her mom's obsessive paper hoarding. Nalena desperately wants something to change in her life, but when she receives a sign (and it's the wrong dang one) inviting her into a mysterious, ancient community, too much changes. What she knew of her family, what she thought of her life and what she believed about her future, is no longer applicable. Seventeen years worth of family skeletons come crashing into Nalena's life and it is the boy...the one that smiles at her like he wants to hear everything she'll ever say...that already knows her powerful secrets. But it is only Nalena that can choose between protecting the life that is already crumbling beneath her feet and the one that might sacrifice everything she could ever have.
Deeply intriguing, Cornerstone is one of those stories that doesn’t immediately enfold us in its paranormal world, instead taking the time to introduce us to an utterly normal young woman dealing with a realistic and difficult situation in a mother who hoards astronomical amounts of paper and spends all their available money continuously buying more. We instantly align ourselves with Nalena, feeling the pain of every verbal arrow aimed at her as the words “The Waste” echo in our ears, reminding us of just how mighty a weapon a couple of letters strung together can be. Only once we’re firmly connected to Nalena and emotionally invested in her life is the paranormal element brought into play, providing us with firm ground to stand on before showing us something completely new.
Nalena is a young woman of whom we feel instantly protective, her role reversal with her mother causing our arms to practically spasm with the need to wrap around her and assure her that the paper her mother seems to treasure above all else does not define her life. Her mother clearly loves her, but there’s a innocence to Evangeline that has her appearing younger in years than Nalena herself, and we can’t help but smile as Nalena exhibits far more patience and understanding than we might were we in the same situation. Because of the treatment she receives from the classmates, she’s instantly wary when Garrett Reese begins to show an interest in her, and their relationship is thankfully one that progresses at a much slower pace than we often find in young adult fiction. She’s smart with him, testing the waters with cautious fingertips to determine the reception she’ll receive should she wade in deeper, and taking some care to guard her heart against a young man who so easily could cause her pain.
While the romance is well-executed–just the right amount of tension and affection swirling around and between Nalena and Garrett–the paranormal element itself is a touch elusive, a complete explanation seeming to dance out of our reach every time we make a grab for it. We learn the basics of Nalena’s gift as well as her mother’s, but some of the finer details remain blurry, leaving us struggling to figure out how the pieces of the community Nalena suddenly finds herself a part of fit together and what this community's purpose is as a whole. Perhaps greater illumination is coming in later books, but our slight confusion does rob us of some of the intensity of Nalena’s conflict as we don’t fully understand the ramifications of her decision to either join the Ianua or continue on as she has been. The ending is rather brutal and heart-wrenching, and it would be my recommendation to have book two on hand for immediate consumption upon finishing as things for Nalena are clearly only going to become more challenging.
KEYSTONE BLOG TOUR
The promotional tour for the second book in this series, Keystone, is running now through September 28th. The participating blogs have various reviews, guest posts, deleted scenes and interviews, so be sure and check out Candace's Book Blog or Misty's Blog for the full schedule because you don't want to miss out on all the fun. Additionally, there are some EPIC giveaways on this tour. Seriously. Want to see?
That's just one prize pack my friends. All the giveaways and the aforementioned tour details can be found HERE.