Two recent books: 17 & Gone and Mistwood

17 & Gone by Nova Ren Suma. This book is supernatural from the start; a van stalling out at an intersection leads to Lauren picking up a missing girl flyer… and being haunted by her ghost. It’s a tricky look at school, relationships and understanding, finding a quest (or tilting at windmills)… a very baseline real world with challenges, and school in the backdrop. There’s a twist that amplifies the book and encourages you to look back on the events from other characters’ perspectives. I recommend it to Jennifer, and anyone else who is looking for good YA fiction. (Though you need to be able to handle some depressing/concerning elements–among other things, teenage runaways and abduction are a very strong theme.)

Mistwood by Leah Cypress is set in a fantasy world, and thrives there. Our protagonist is The Shifter, who comes to protect the prince and struggles to recover her memories. Isabel, the shifter, emerges to find that her reputation precedes her, which her memories come only when prompted. The alienness of the shifter, the bubbling conflict that lurks behind the scenes until Isabel gains enough skill to start unraveling the secret that no one is talking about, and the conflict in loyalties all resonated. The pacing is non-standard, but the book is plenty short to keep its drive throughout. (This book also has a twist that flows from those lost memories. It’s pretty well handled.) For a first novel, I thought it was great and look forward to reading her next book. [Though, honestly, this story is told and told well… I’d rather read about a new situation than continue a short time after the book ends.]