[Publisher: Kensington Books | Pub. Date: 12/2/2015 | Genre: YA | Source: Received from pub for review]
I’m a huge fan of Brigid’s Kemmerer’s Elemental series (Gabriel!) so it’s fair to say that I went into Thicker Than Water with high expectations. That said, I kept an open mind and knew only the barest of details as I began reading — Thomas Bellwether is the primary suspect for death of his mother and the only person who thinks he may be innocent is Charlotte Rooker, who happens to have three older brothers as cops. I figured equal parts mystery and romance would ensue (which was the case!) but the story and the characters never came together for me. The chapters alternated between Thomas and Charlotte and I personally alternated between feeling sympathetic, confused and downright frustrated by their actions and thoughts. Even though the book eventually does give us the most pertinent answers to the mystery (and these characters), it didn’t give enough to make the story cohesive. And I think it had a lot of to do with the lack of Thomas and Charlotte’s individual development. I never felt as if I truly got to know them or their motivations. Looking back, I still have questions — particularly about Charlotte — in regards to their family, who play a huge role, and just who they are. I think if I had been able to connect to them, I would’ve enjoyed the story more, in spite of it being a bit predictable.
Do I recommend? While I do highly recommend the author, I didn’t like this as nearly as much as I had hoped to. I would start with her Elemental series first and then if you’re curious, check this out.
I love Ryan Dean West. I really do. Winger was one of my favorite books from 2013 and I didn’t expect it to get a sequel. But I’m so glad it did! We're reunited with Ryan Dean and this should be his year. He’s a senior, he got the girl and he’s captain of the Rugby team. But he’s also stuck with Sam Abernathy, a twelve-year-old freshman, as a roommate. And he was switched to the stand-off position on his team, which used to belong to Joey, his close friend who died last year and whose death is still haunting him. As with all Andrew Smith’s books, he deftly handles and switches between the serious (grief) and the funny (teenage boy life). There were moments where I felt such compassion for this young man who was grieving and didn’t know how to handle it. Then the next, I would be laughing out loud and having to pause my reading so I could let all the giggles out. But I guess that’s what made his story so realistic to me. Smith never loses sight of Ryan Dean’s grief and it’s smartly handled but at the same time, we get to see the little things that are also a big part of his life. Like wanting to make out with his girlfriend and how he’s in love with her. Being annoyed with a roommate. Thinking about college. Drawing comics. At the end of the book, I guarantee you will love this character (and Andrew Smith’s writing) even more.
Do I recommend? Highly! If you have picked up Winger yet, you should go right out and buy it now. And then read this after.