An absolutely brilliant debut. Blunt and punchy writing weaved perfectly with a passionate young love story - but don't be fooled, any hint of it leading into sentimentality is beaten down swiftly with a well-placed stick of sarcasm, wit or hilarity. Told from the angles of the two leads - Nicky and Gable, teenage sweethearts - the emotion and heartbreak of their youth is told honestly and you can genuinely see both stories from very different perspectives. But it doesn't stop there. Being an urban fantasy, it lives initially on the edge of a whole other layer of New York, eventually plunging into the deep end with secret and seedy happenings for the Outcasts (those with magical or otherworldy ability/origin) trying to just get on with their lives. The Guardians are the watchers, there to help and there to protect, and I liked the fact this particular set of Guardians weren't all brash superhero types - they were more rejects of the rejects (but way more bad-ass, as the book suggests). There wasn't too much or too little of anything, it was well balanced, with a supporting cast of well-rounded, likeable (and unlikeable!) characters. To be honest, you could see this happily transfer to the big, or small, screen, as the energy and humour would be enough to capture many a viewer in no time. I hadn't enjoyed a new story so much for a good while, and I was cackling to myself particularly loudly a lot of the time. This is genuinely wonderful writing, and far better than many books you may find on bookshop shelves - utterly recommended.
Well, of course I got a kick out of it, it'd been in the wings for a while so it was hard not to! Jessica Roe was on form with her infectious style again and it's welcome when one spends most of the time writing stuff on a par with Adele's albums. I enjoyed the whirligig pace, the get-the-hell-on-with-it atmosphere, the bunch of misfits who are inevitably adorable underneath. We're introduced to more employees/leaders/secret service of the Guardians, who are all intriguing and secretive and you definitely wanna dig more out of. It's a shame we didn't get to have a bit of an adventure with them a little more, but surely there will be time, there's going to be another one, of course there is!
Having found out Sacha is off-world with a bunch of other kidnapped Outcasts the race is on to find them, and Gable is certainly not going to stay behind while they gallivant through dimensions. Anyway, I'm not going to explain the whole plot, read the blurb, eh? The focus is almost entirely on Gable in this one (the alternate story arc is Fortune who's in a cell with Sacha...somewhere...), which is perfectly riotous most of the time. You see plenty of different sides to her and certainly feel for her loss of Sacha and learn a bit more of her dreams. What was missing for me was that there was no firm conflict for her (except Nicky, but not that kind of conflict) and she could have done with having Walker about for that (a real shame she wasn't about much) to tie in with the possibility of joining the gang. The great things about Gable are her resilience and drive, and her deep passion for Sacha - she feels things in extremities, which I can relate to, and protects herself emotionally when it comes to him. It gives her vulnerability which is a nice contrast. However, Gable seemed a little too myopic and self-involved at times to the point of irritation, not even bothering to remember the one other girl in the group's name but knowing all the boys - she could probably have used a wake-up call, and perhaps a slap. It suggests her strength is only found in getting approval from all the men around her (because her conflict/disinterest is with almost all of the women) which is an entirely unlikeable aspect of her character to me, and stops me taking her seriously at those moments. She's strong enough to accept and correct these flaws but doesn't. But the reason we read isn't to have everything hunky dory; it's so we can experience tensions, conflict and adventure without having to, well, go discover a crazy fantasy land and do it ourselves. Anyway, back to reality where these people aren't real... A barrel of fun, a river of emotions, twists and turns that leave you in a joyously suspenseful state, and some Outcasts to root for again! I love the world, I love the setting, I love the stuff that hasn't happened yet and I can see creeping up. I can't tell all - go and read it!