Title: The Holders
Author: Julianna Scott
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Release Date: 3/5/2013
Length: 368 pages
Series?: Holders #1
Genre: YA fantasy, paranormal
Source: ARC from author/publisher
[#71 in my 2012 75 book challenge]
Becca must keep a close eye on her ten-year-old brother, Ryland, because he’s different from the other kids. When a recruiter comes from a special boarding school in Ireland with the promise of helping Ryland fine-tune his special abilities, Becca’s not buying it — until she realizes how truly special her brother is. Becca accompanies Ryland to St. Brigid’s, where she learns about powerful abilities, family secrets, and a legend that may turn her life upside down. Along the way she meets the handsome Alex, her charming BFF Chloe, and a whole host of interesting teachers.
The Holders was a pleasant surprise! Fantasy usually isn’t my thing, but I couldn’t put this book down. Comparisons to Harry Potter oversimplify the story and the characters, but it is hard to avoid such comparisons. However, The Holders stands on its own two feet. The budding romance between Becca and Alex plays a huge part in this story (so romance fans, rejoice!) and the supernatural elements are less “magical” than in Harry’s world.
The most surprising part of the whole story was how well Julianna Scott crafts her protagonist. Becca is strong and independent without being annoying or perfect. At eighteen, she’s a little bit older than the average YA protagonist at the start of a series, which means she’s outgrown some of the more obnoxious teen girl behaviors. Becca even acknowledges that she refuses to be fixated on romance or boys over her own goals. Family is more important to Becca than anything, and she’s even a good friend to Chloe throughout the novel. Her constant bitterness toward her father, Jocelyn (yes. that’s his name), was a bit taxing at times. Otherwise, I liked Becca. I think I’ll keep reading when Scott releases the rest of the series so I can see how her character develops.
FINAL GRADE: B Not a top ten book of the year, but close! Any book I read this quickly has to be good. I’d recommend The Holders to fans of Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, fantasy, and Twilight. I’d also recommend it to anyone who doesn’t normally like fantasy or paranormal romance. Like Harry Potter, it could either be “gateway fantasy” or fantasy that defies the genre and works on its own. I would feel very comfortable adding this book to a middle or high school library, as the content is PG-13.
How do you feel about fantasy novels? YA fantasy? Love it? Hate it?