Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Holders (Holders #1) by Julianna Scott - Ashley's Review

*I received this book as an eARC from Strange Chemistry/Angry Robot on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

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Title: The Holders
Author: Julianna Scott
Year Published: 2013

17-year-old Becca spent her whole life protecting her brother from, well, everything. The abandonment of their father, the so called 'experts' who insist that voices in his head are unnatural and must be dealt with, and the constant threat of being taken away to some hospital and studied like an animal. When two representatives appear claiming to have the answers to Ryland's perceived problem, Becca doesn't buy it for one second. That is until they seem to know things about Ryland and about Becca and Ryland's family, that forces Becca to concede that there may be more to these people than meets the eye. Though still highly skeptical, Becca agrees to do what's best for Ryland.

What they find at St. Brigid's is a world beyond their imagination. Little by little they piece together the information of their family's heritage, their estranged Father, and the legend of the Holder race that decrees Ryland is the one they've been waiting for. However, they are all--especially Becca--in for a surprise that will change what they thought they knew about themselves and their kind.

She meets Alex, a Holder who is fiercely loyal to their race, and for some reason, Becca and Ryland. There's an attraction between Becca and Alex that can't be denied, but her true nature seems destined to keep them apart. However, certain destinies may not be as clear cut as everyone has always believed them to be.

Becca is lost, but found at the same time. Can she bring herself to leave Ryland now that he's settled and can clearly see his future? Will she be able to put the the feelings she has for Alex aside and head back to the US? And can Becca and Ryland ever forgive their father for what he's done?


Review: Oh my goodness, this book. If I didn't know better, I would think that Julianna is an experienced YA writer with at least half a dozen books under her belt. Surprisingly though, this is actually her debut! And what a debut it was. 

The whole idea of St. Brigid's had a really big X-Men feel too it, but it was definitely something new and exciting and unique. It's not just a school for "mutants" (called Holders in this universe), and normal kids go to school with the especially gifted ones. I really liked that the Holders didn't try to hide themselves from the normal population - they're raised among them, study next to them, and make friends with them. Their gifts are also limited. Holders can only have certain types of powers, and each Holder has a different strength to that gift. Some Holders are more powerful than others, but each Holder can only ever have one power.

I think that makes everything more believable, which makes the plot and the characters more relatable. This is definitely a fantasy story, but the way everything is explained it could very well be happening right now without our knowledge. I think that's so cool, and I wish more books were written like that. The whole magical aspect of the plot might be a little far-fetched, but you never know! 

The characters are also very well written, and I found myself wanting to be friends with several of them, disliking the ones I was supposed to, and feeling sympathy towards others. Becca is fiercely loyal and protective of her brother, and I think the whole sibling thing was very well done. I feel like siblings are too often portrayed as distant and not fond of each other, but Julianna captures a pretty healthy sibling relationship here. Especially considering the big age difference between Ryland and Becca. Alex was an excellent love interest, and the romance between him and Becca ran as a nice subplot to the main story. It was there, but it was never instalove or in the way of the udnerlying  issues Becca had to face. I can't wait to learn more about the rest of the Holders, especially those in the council! 

This book kind of just ends... which usually drives me crazy, but I felt like even that was really well done. It definitely left me wanting more, and I can't wait to start The Seers soon! If you're looking for a good YA fantasy book with a contemporary feel, you should pick this book up ASAP! It kept me on the edge of my seat, and even though I could totally see all of the plot twists coming ahead of time, I still found myself wanting to read on to find out what would happen after things were revealed. I'm looking forward to finding out even more about the Holders in The Seers! A 4/5 on this one from me. 


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