Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Soul Screamers series by Rachel Vincent

Kaylee screams when people are about to die. Her "panic attacks" have already landed her in the hospital once, so she doesn't want to tell anybody now, but if she really can predict deaths, what is she supposed to do about it?

These really remind me of something I might have written when I was a tween. "Girl discovers she has special powers and joins the awesome secret society of other people with special powers, at least one of whom is a hot boy" kind of thing. Not terribly original, but here at least, really good. Fair warning: I'm going to swear in a paragraph or two.

My Soul to Take, the first book of the series, is mostly about introducing you to Kaylee, her friends and family including boyfriend Nash, and the world she lives in. The characters are all good (all of them are more than they let on in the beginning), especially Kaylee. She's got a great mixture of personality traits, so it's hard to sum her up in one or two keywords. She's self-conscious, but doesn't have an inferiority complex, tempestuous but not exhausting, sometimes kind of an idiot but only when she's really upset, and sometimes selfish but always trying to help. The story is half mystery and half romance (published by Harlequin Teen, here) and it just has that indefinable something that draws you in and makes you care.

I was worried that the second book, My Soul to Save, would be mostly teen wangst and relationship issues. That it wouldn't deliver on the fascinating ideas and potential the series was offering But not to worry: Save takes everything that was good about the first book and makes it TOTALLY AWESOME. We know who Kaylee is now, we know what she's capable of, so now we go and do some shit. Trips to the Netherworld! Showdowns with demons! Fame and fortune! And of course, relationship issues, but these weren't boring or wangsty. This was one of the best treatments of teen romance I've seen; passionate, but uncertain.

Vincent has succeeded in doing the one thing that every urban fantasy writer wants to do: She created a supernatural world and made me really believe it was there, totally alien, but right next to me. Kaylee has matured already, she's brave, she's smart, and she strong. I could totally see her as the heroine of an adult urban fantasy series (like Anita Blake or Harry Dresden) in ten or twenty years. It helps that I'm convinced Nash is evil, and that would be great backstory after the fact. (I have no evidence for this belief, he seems perfectly nice, but there's something he's not saying. Such as "I'm a serial killer" or "I'm a hellbeast in disguise" or something interesting like that.)

The third book (My Soul to Keep) comes out in June, and if you have a Kindle there's a prequel story called My Soul to Lose that you can order. Somebody please read this series and come theorize (and spaz) with me! Some similar books I'd recommend are Sucks to Be Me by Kimberly Pauley (review here) and Need by Carrie Jones (review here.)

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