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 What she knew of her family, what she thought of her life and what she believed about her future, is no longer applicable.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.
3.5 stars — I’ve had this book on my TBR pile for YEARS it feels like. I’d heard good things, and since she’s going to be an author at Utopia this year (again), I wanted to read it before then! I ended up with mixed feelings about this book. There were aspects that I adored and totally sucked me in, but there were also quite a few aspects that just rubbed me the wrong way…. And even with this higher rating, I highly doubt I will continue on with the series…I just have way too much to read, and so my standards have shifted, you know?
I found Nalena to be very intriguing from the beginning. I tend to gravitate towards main characters with self-esteem issues (the bullied in this case), and so my heart ached for her and her precarious situation at school brought on by her mother’s paper hoarding. The problem is that she could be hard to get behind all the time. Sometimes the way she saw her crush on Garrett had me cringing internally, and that’s a me problem all the way. She just flip flopped in her emotions so much it was giving me whiplash. Now, quite frankly, this is probably pretty accurate for a 17 year old…but I guess I’ve lost my memories of those times, so it was so hard to empathize with her. One minute she’s agonizing b/c he can’t possibly feel the same way, and the next she’s reacting with amazing amounts of hope from the slightest grin from him. It just didn’t work for me personally. It’s funny though, b/c I would start to sympathize with her and get a good feel for her and what kind of character I would be reading, and then it just felt like there was a 180, so it probably aggravated me more than it normally would.
Garrett was intriguing. I kind of loved him and his whole chaotic family. I loved how happy and smiling he always was. I loved watching the siblings fight like real siblings would. I loved just how gregarious they all could be. I kind of wanted more from the romance department there, but I’m sure I would get more if I continued with the series.
I can’t decide how I feel about Nali’s mother. It’s such a strange situation that they’re in. Because of who she is and what she does and what her role is in this paranormal world, there is an excuse for the paper hoarding. But because she kept that all from Nali, she kind of let her unnecessarily suffer for it, you know? And I kind of get her reasons, but it’s hard. So I’m just a big old ball of conflict when it comes to her.
As for the the paranormal aspects — it was amazingly unique. But at times I had a hard time following it and keeping up with all I was being told. Now maybe it was just that I wasn’t in the right mode for such a detailed world, but I still don’t really feel like I “got” all of it, you know? And sometimes the descriptions for what was happening to Nali (like her first description of the bubble I guess) just weren’t enough for me. I just honestly could not picture it in my head. Again, this could be just me. I’m not going to lay this at others feet if I just wasn’t having good brain time, you know? I will say I loved Addo Larry though. He killed me.
So all in all, I was sucked in to the book, but there were just too many moments of confusion to have me clamouring for the next one. And quite frankly, I just have too many other books to read to keep going on a book that left me feeling downs as well as ups.