Dying sucks–and high school senior Ember McWilliams knows firsthand. After a fatal car accident, her gifted little sister brought her back. Now anything Ember touches dies. And that, well, really blows.
Ember operates on a no-touch policy with all living things–including boys. When Hayden Cromwell shows up, quoting Oscar Wilde and claiming her curse is a gift, she thinks he’s a crazed cutie. But when he tells her he can help control it, she’s more than interested. There’s just one catch: Ember has to trust Hayden’s adopted father, a man she’s sure has sinister reasons for collecting children whose abilities even weird her out. However, she’s willing to do anything to hold her sister’s hand again. And hell, she’d also like to be able to kiss Hayden. Who wouldn’t?
But when Ember learns the accident that turned her into a freak may not’ve been an accident at all, she’s not sure who to trust. Someone wanted her dead, and the closer she gets to the truth, the closer she is to losing not only her heart, but her life. For real this time.
OMG. This is my first Jennifer L. Armentrout book despite the fact that some of my blogger friends love her stuff and despite the fact that I’ve been creepily lusting over the guy on the Lux covers for some time now. I have no idea what took me so long because this book made me squee all over myself! If this is an indicator of what the rest of her books are like, I’ll be buying up her entire back list ASAP.
Anyway, about the book itself. The first thing I thought when I read the blurb was that it sounded a lot like that tv show from a few years ago, Pushing Daisies. Not exactly alike or anything, just the bit about the person with the touch of death not being able to touch the one person she really wants to touch. That being said, I tried to put the comparison out of my mind because you guys…I loved Pushing Daisies. Loved. It. Unfortunately like so many shows that I love (Arrested Development, Freaks and Geeks, etc.) it got canceled way before its time while complete garbage goes on for season after season. But anyhoo, I didn’t want to compare the book to the tv show because I didn’t think it would be fair.
The good news is that beyond what I already mentioned, they really had nothing in common. And that’s not a bad thing, because as it turns out I love the book just as much as I do the show. I just love it in a different way. It’s not cutesy and surreal and tragically touching. It is tragically touching, I suppose, but it’s also got mystery and backstabbing and nefarious organizations and murderous plots. Hooray!
Another comparison I’d make would be to that of The X-Men. And if I’m not mistaken, Ember herself kind of dryly makes the connection during the course of the book. Again, it’s not derivative or anything – it’s not like Armentrout took someone else’s idea and copied it. It stands alone just fine and it’s very, very good on its own merit.
To me, the best thing about the book were the characters themselves. Ember is a really good main character, she has lots of layers and she’s very complex. It’s interesting to watch her struggle to deal what what others call a gift and she thinks of only as a curse, and you can’t help but feel for her. And Hayden is wonderful as well, despite some rocky patches here and there in the story. And the romance! Romance isn’t usually my favorite (or even second favorite) part of books, but this one…oy. It was really, really well done. It walks the line of insta-love but with none of the usual eye rolling on the behalf of the reader.
The book wraps up pretty well but I do wonder if there will be a sequel. The door was left open for one and there are certainly ends that could be tied up and ways that the story could progress. I’m not sure if it’s the first book in a series or not but I kind of hope so.
One thing that I would mention is that there’s a very mild instance of animal violence. Nothing too bad or graphic and only enough to bother the extremely sensitive (like me). I almost didn’t bother to mention it, so that says something about how truly minor it is since I am wound pretty tight when it comes to this issue.
This is a book that I fully plan to buy a finished copy of so that I can re-read it whenever the mood strikes.