Pages: 304 (hardcover)
To Be Published: June 28th, 2011 by Dutton
Recommended for: anyone up for a fantastic, unique speculative fantasy
I really loved how this book breaks the mold. Everything, from the beautiful complexity and sheer wonderful impossibility of the story world, to the characters and even the way everything unfolds is such a refreshing deviance from the "YA paranormal formula" which so many books follow these days (there isn't a love triangle...gasp!). Dawn Metcalf's writing is as beautiful as that eye-catching cover-- so flowing and just descriptive enough to leave the best parts, both pretty and ugly, to our imaginations. It took me maybe twenty pages to decide I loved this book and get past the confusion, but once I did, I became irrevocably obsessed with it.
Consuela sees herself as an ordinary teenage girl: confident and happily average. Her greatest challenge as the story opens is trying to find a pair of jeans which fits decently-- because none of them ever do, if you live under a rock and haven't already noticed. But Consuela soon makes a incredible and impossible discovery-- far from being an average teenager, she is one of the chosen few people in the world who belongs to a twisted and spectacular realm where time has little reign, simply called the Flow, as much as she does to her mortal existence. Consuela finds her alter-ego-- or perhaps another part of herself-- in Bones, as she slips off her own skin and, quite accidentally, begins to explore the Flow in her bare bones, donning "skins" made of everything under the sun as she experiments with her new-found powers. She learns that she is a sort of Guardian, driven to save those who are not yet destined to die, but veer off course towards that path anyway.
Consuela's ability is freeing and unlike anything she's ever imagined, but she finds she's far from the only one in the Flow with otherworldly powers. There is a sort of loose government in this strange world, policed by a mysterious girl called the Watcher-- or just Sissy, if you like. Consuela is entranced by V, a striking fellow resident of the Flow whose ability centers around traveling through the mirrors which connect our world and the Flow. Not so much Tender, whose charismatic exterior belies a darkness both repulsive and pitiable. Even as a series of murders devastate the balance of her new-found world, Consuela becomes aware that her old life may be in jeopardy of being lost... and that the one skin she can no longer seem to slip seamlessly into is her own.
The idea of having Consuela's gift-- the ability to shed your skin, shed all the preconceptions and misconceptions and baggage that is your physical existence and to become, essentially, a skeleton of a person, characterized by only your own actions and to be free in that way... well, I could get even more long-winded with it, going on about how thought-provoking it was for me and whatnot. But I think for the sake of not boring everyone out of their skulls, let me just say that it's pretty darn awesome. Consuela is a fantastic heroine; I loved the way her actions spoke volumes more than her words and thoughts. (This book is written in third-person, which is slightly unusual for YA, but it definitely worked.)
All of the teens in the Flow have been drastically changed by events, often tragedies, which altered them in their mortal lives, and I loved the way their pasts reflected in their abilities and personalities. Sissy, the Watcher, was another great character, and though I don't want to give her particular talent away, let's just say I was as delighted as I was a wee bit grossed-out. Tender... is one of those rare villains who really came to life for me, and actually probably my favorite character after Consuela herself. I cannot put into words how spectacularly the story unfolds, nor can I really write a review which does Luminous justice. So just trust me on this one: it's good. Really good. You should read it.
Cover: 5/5 (gorgeous)
Plot: 5/5Overall Rating: 5/5
*Quick heads-up: tomorrow I'll be posting an interview with Dawn Metcalf! Because of course I absolutely had to interview her. Stay tuned...*