Saturday, October 29, 2011

Harbinger Review

Harbinger by SARA ETIENNE

Girl, Interrupted meets Beautiful Creatures in this fast-paced thriller

When sixteen-year-old Faye arrives at Holbrook Academy, she doesn’t expect to find herself exactly where she needs to be. After years of strange waking visions and nightmares, her only comfort the bones of dead animals, Faye is afraid she’s going crazy. Fast.

But her first night at Holbrook, she feels strangely connected to the school and the island it sits on, like she’s come home. She’s even made her first real friends, but odd things keep happening to them. Every morning they wake on the floors of their dorm rooms with their hands stained red.

Faye knows she’s the reason, but what does it all mean? The handsome Kel tries to help her unravel the mystery, but Faye is certain she can’t trust him; in fact, he may be trying to kill her—and the rest of the world too.

Rich, compelling writing will keep the pages turning in this riveting and tautly told psychological thriller (goodreads).

Review Based on ARC

Yes yes yes, "never judge a book by its cover," I know, I know. But can we just PLEASE sit here for a minute and appreciate that AMAZING artwork. LOOK AT IT. 

Sara Etienne's debut novel will knock your socks off. I'm serious. Etienne's mastery of storytelling and remarkable characters will not allow you to put this book down, and if you do, you're stuck wondering how it's all going to end. 

Faye is tricked by her parents into enrolling into Holbrook Academy which caters to students who are "special." Faye's talent is that she has visions. She can see into your past just by making eye contact which causes people to grow nervous around her. At Holbrook, she is able to find a group of peers who accept her as they struggle to figure out the mystery behind their crimson strained hands. 

This plot will have you reading until you get closure. There is no guessing what is going to happen next, you think you know what's going on and then the author throws you for a loop which is just fine with me. While the "finding comfort in dead animal bones" is not as prominent in the plot as the blurb makes it out to be, the plot is still interesting and confusing, but a good confusing. 

Sara captures Faye's voice perfectly through the use of the first person narrative. The readers are able to understand her desire to rebel, the  feelings she has for the mysterious Kel, and how her visions are affecting her. Faye often experiences the feeling of being taken over by tidal waves which is portrayed so vividly that the action does not sound imaginary at all. There are other instances where you the reader are right along Faye as she comes to terms between what is right and what is wrong, and you're just as distraught as she is. 

About 60 pages into the novel, I had this fear that Sara would gloss over the secondary characters in this novel, thankfully she doesn't. We get background information on nearly on all of the characters, even the ones that play the antagonist role, which really makes the reader see this world in shades of gray instead of black and white. Faye's group of friends are interesting and they each have a distinct voice whether it is vegetarian Maya or Comic-Con enthusiast Zach. 

The romance wasn't overbearing, it did not steal from the overall plot. Kel was an engaging and mysterious character who excites Faye and scares her at the same time  because he is hiding something as well. Their romance is very secondary to the mystery of Holbrook but still ever present. 

During my read, I did find myself confused at times, not because of the plot but rather the writing style. I felt that some of the connecting dots were missing. There was instances where I had to flip back a page or two to make sure I didn't miss anything, and then infer what happened between actions. Also the entire novel takes place in one week which is a LOT of action to occur in such a short period of time. When I was reading I assumed that the novel took place over at least a month. I feel like that was entirely way too much action to jam into one short week. 

Overall Harbinger was refreshingly unique with a plot that will captivate you. I strongly urge you all to look for this novel when it hits shelves in February. Many thanks to Sara for sending me a copy, it was a great read!

I recommend this novel for fans of young adult mysteries, and those who enjoy stories told in a school setting. 


  1. Sounds to be a very interesting read and I will be adding to my ever-growing TBR :)

  2. I definitely think that you would enjoy it!

  3. I was really excited as I was reading your review, but I'm horribly disappointed that it doesn't come out until February. That is so far away! Great review.

  4. Great review! Has me even more excited for the release. Thanks for stopping by and letting me know about it.

    Wendy @ Escape Into Fiction


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