Sleight: Book One of the AVRA-K by Jennifer Sommersby
Release Date: March 25, 2011
Publisher: Accendo Press
Reading level: Young Adult
Her mom is dead.
Ghosts follow her around.
Her best friend is an elephant.
And she's about to meet the biggest game changer of all: a boy. With a secret.
When circus-dwelling Gemma Flannery learns she will be attending public school for the first time in her seventeen years, little does she know that fitting in with her 12th-grade classmates will be the least of her concerns. A pro at hiding her knack for seeing the dead ("shades"), Gemma is grieving the recent suicide of her mentally ill mother, a process eased by the introduction of her first real love interest, the charming and painfully handsome Henry Dmitri, who is harboring his own collection of dangerous secrets. Together, they will be presented with a frightening challenge: to assume their roles as heirs to a 3000-year-old magical text, the AVRAKEDAVRA, a book the über-rich, sleight-of-being master Lucian Dmitri would do anything to get his hands on. As each terrifying layer in her new reality melts away, Gemma unearths truths that her quiet, nomadic life with the Cinzio Traveling Players is not at all what she’d always cherished. Gemma and Henry must rely on each other to stop Lucian’s diabolical plotting that will bring the world to its tired, scab-riddled knees, and are sent on the flight of their young lives, to save themselves, their families, and the world from the darkest kind of destruction.
Let the chase begin.
-- from Amazon.com
This is a truly great story, the idea is superb and the execution is clean and bright. I loved every minute and couldn't wait to get back to reading whenever I had to put it down to face reality. We are treated to the sometimes snarky but often vulnerable inner thoughts of Gemma as she faces first the ordeal of not fitting in at her new school and then a whole spectrum of catastrophes and new experiences that are thrown her way. And let me just say it was refreshing to read this often told story with the twist of it not being the popular girl(s) who torment the protagonist but someone else.
In a circus I would have expected no less than brilliantly colorful characters and Ms. Sommersby does not disappoint! They come in every shape and size and are all unique and well-rounded. Every character in this story is a complex individual -- even the ones who seemed periphery had backstory and were well-developed. Right down to the silent, ghostly whittler who occupies the corner of the mess tent. I was pleased to see real people living and breathing on the pages of this book. The emotions rung true with every new scene and the relationships progressed so naturally even in spite of the limited time frame.
I was so impressed with the realistic treatment of Gemma and Henry's interactions. There was an authenticity to them that helped me stay comfortably in the story with them, living it alongside them. I especially enjoyed the fact that, while Gemma faces things she's not sure how to handle, she may want to run away but does so only when it felt appropriate that a girl her age would do so. There was no huge and unnecessary melodramatic displays of emotion that I've noticed in other YA novels. Gemma is grounded and may do silly things sometimes, but what teenager doesn't? The same goes for Henry and Ash as well.
The one thing I would have liked to have seen better developed perhaps is the relationship between Gemma and Junie. I felt that due to the constraints of the timeline in the story that we didn't get to see that fleshed out to the point that I felt we were looking at two girls who counted each other as sisters even though they both expressed that feeling toward the other at some point.
One of the best surprises is a secondary ability that Gemma develops. I've never read anything like that before and I felt it was very original, unexpected, and fun! Though the overall surprise with this book is that with its length, there is absolutely no fluff -- no extraneous scenes written just to make the book seem longer. Every scene has a purpose and furthers the plot or character development. Well done, Ms. Sommersby!
I am effusively in love with this book and cannot wait for the next chapter in Gemma's life. This one book that I think should be on everyone's to be read list or in their Amazon.com shopping carts. And because I feel so strongly about that, I am most grateful to the fantastic Jennifer Sommersby teaming up with the fabulous Angela Carlie, author of Dream Smashers (read my 5-star review here) to get their amazing books into your hands with a giveaway!
What You Win
one eBook copy of Sleight by Jennifer Sommersby one eBook copy of Dream Smashers by Angela Carlie.
You must be 13 years old or older. This contest is open to everyone. Contest ends May 9, 2011. One entry per person. Contest Closed