In spite of having two weeks off to go on adventures and get on with the mountain of stuff I have to do before the end of the month, I have of course been reading. At the time of writing, I have read two Gena Showalter books: Intertwined and Unravelled. By the time of posting (#scheduling) I might well have caved and bought the third instalment, Twisted.
I saw Unravelled in The Works and thought it looked interesting so I looked it up when I got home. Of course it was a book 2 so I had to get the book 1. I suppose you would classify them as YA books, and they’re of a supernatural nature.
The main characters are Aden and Mary Ann, who are weirdly connected in a way that as of the end of book 2 hasn’t really been explained. It partly has in terms of real world reasons, but not in terms of supernatural reasons. They are teenagers in Nowhere-specials-ville.
Mary Ann is a normal girl with a psychotherapist for a father, so she is intelligent and preppy in the classic quiet-girl way. She even has a blonde, bubbly best friend who is clearly way cooler than her! Standard.
Aden is a boy with some troubles. He’s been passed around the foster system and is labelled as an early-onset schizophrenic. He talks to himself a lot. Except he isn’t talking to himself. He’s talking to the four souls trapped in his body along with his own. Those souls each have a special power: one can timetravel, one involuntarily raises the dead, one can possess people and the last one can see death visions. Not so standard.
That would be enough of a supernatural element on its own, but Showalter also throws in first vampires and werewolves, and then ghosts and goblins and fairies and witches turn up… you’d think that would be overpowering but as Mary Ann herself says, if vampires and werewolves are real, why not everything else? And apart from the goblins (who are of course subhuman, as is tradition) they blend in to the human population more or less, so you have to know what to look for to spot one.
Anyway, the soul that predicts things (Elijah) has been giving Aden visions of a beautiful brunette that will come into his life and change everything. He sees Mary Ann one day and thinks it is her, and follows her, but this sets off a whole other supernatural event that builds nicely through the first book and spills into the second.
What I like about these characters is that there’s no soppy love triangle. People are destined for each other and they find them when they’re meant to. No one is torn between two people they really love. This cuts down on a lot of pointless moping about and leaves us free to enjoy the action. There is definitely some angst in there (there has to be when humans and supernatural races intermingle) but it doesn’t overpower the whole plot. There’s no random heart-to-heart conversations in the middle of battle, for example. Because there wouldn’t be! If you’re not totally focused on getting the job done, you won’t survive to have that Feels conversation.
While there are some comforting standards in these books (the supernatural are arrogantly superior to puny humans!) Showalter throws in some twists that keep things grounded and more gritty than a pure Twilight fantasy. I can’t even think of a time when I thought to myself “why the hell would s/he do/say THAT?!” so that should give you a clue. I am intrigued by how things turn out in book three, and whether there is or ever will be a book four. Oh wait, no, there was one character who had really weird motivations that made no sense. Someone is out for revenge on someone who didn’t do anything to them. There’s a bit of an Elder Wand situation re: King of the Vampires and someone who lost seems to have forgotten who they lost to.
I’m warning you, Showalter, if I get to the end of book three and there’s a cliffhanger and no book four forthcoming… I’ll slip through Fairy Tale and out into your closet and FIND YOU.
You can find Intertwined here (Kindle edition).
You can follow Gena Showalter on Twitter here.