Thursday, May 23, 2013

5 stars: Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith

"Things you earnestly believe will happen while your parents are away:

1. You will remember to water the azaleas.
2. You will take detailed, accurate messages.
3. You will call your older brother, Denny, if even the slightest thing goes wrong.
4. You and your best friend/bandmate Lukas will win Battle of the Bands.
5. Amid the thrill of victory, Lukas will finally realize you are the girl of his dreams.

Things that actually happen:

1. A stranger calls who says he knew your sister.
2. He says he has her stuff.
3. What stuff? Her stuff.
4. You tell him your parents won’t be able to—
5. Sukey died five years ago; can’t he—
6. You pick up a pen.
7. You scribble down the address.
8. You get on your bike and go.
9. Things . . . get a little crazy after that.*
*also, you fall in love, but not with Lukas.

Both exhilarating and wrenching, Hilary T. Smith’s debut novel captures the messy glory of being alive, as seventeen-year-old Kiri Byrd discovers love, loss, chaos, and murder woven into a summer of music, madness, piercing heartbreak, and intoxicating joy."

Expected publication: May 28th 2013 by Katherine Tegen Books. I received a digital ARC of this story.

Can I give this book more than 5 stars? Please? I was blown away. At first, I was impressed by the writing, and I took notes about what I liked, so that I could improve my own writing. For instance, the character development and amount of detail that went into describing characters, and everything else, was amazing. While we're on the subject of characters, Smith's were 3-dimensional and so vivid. Plus many were really interesting. The introduction of all these new characters into Kiri's life was part of what made her adventure so fun and um adventurey.

The story sucked me in. With such great writing, that was bound to happen, but not all well-written novels are as absorbing. One note I took while reading said "Fun, crazy, mysterious story." That should tell you enough about this book. You know what was really neat? There was a MONTAGE in the book! It was of her playing the piano and all the prep work she was doing to get ready for a recital. 

The pacing was fantastic, except for one part where there was some filler and I had trouble getting through it, but that was not far into the book and it didn't last many pages at all (this was the only negative thing I have to say and it's such a small thing in the grand scheme of things). Once I got past the short hump, the story gained momentum again.

Speaking of momentum, the story starts off with a sane teenage girl. Once she finds out that her sister was murdered, we see how this news triggers a drug-fueled mental breakdown. Things get intense, but it happens at the right pace. Her steady systematic decline (I love NIN) was just right. It was a bit hard to read, because her mental illness was described too perfectly and was so realistic... but who am I kidding, even if it was hard to bare, I could not stop reading!

There was even a love story! OK, there usually is, but this one was in the middle of the madness and was with a somewhat mysterious stranger, which is always the most fun in books.

Kiri goes on an incredible life-changing journey, and I'm so happy I got to take it right along with her. Is it realistic for her to suddenly become sane at the end? No, so that doesn't happen, because that takes time, meds, and therapy, but the book ends on a positive and perfect note (hehe, she's a musician... NOTE. Yeah, yeah, I'll stop).

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