Thursday, 8 September 2011
Review: Hunting Lila by Sarah Alderson
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's
Released: August 4th, 2011
Grade rating: A-
17-year-old Lila has two secrets she's prepared to take to the grave. The first is that she can move things just by looking at them. The second is that she's been in love with her brother's best friend, Alex, since forever. After a mugging exposes her unique ability, Lila decides to run to the only people she can trust - her brother and Alex. They live in Southern California where they work for a secret organisation called The Unit, and Lila discovers that the two of them are hunting down the men who murdered her mother five years before. And that they've found them. In a world where nothing and no one is quite as they seem, Lila quickly realises that she is not alone - there are others out there just like her - people with special powers -and her mother's killer is one of them...
I wasn't sure what to expect from Hunting Lila. I knew it was a paranormal thriller, but I didn't know how much would be paranormal and how much would be thriller. I certainly didn't expect to love it as much as I did, but I'm still thinking about it a fortnight later. There are certain characters (Alex, ahem) that just won't leave my head, and that's obviously testament to how well Alderson wrote them. Or maybe I just have a thing for fictional male characters called Alex?! Hmm, I think I'll stick with my first reason...
Hunting Lila is pretty much everything I could have wanted from a debut novel. I soon got over the fact there are no vampires (hehe) when I realised how quickly I'd been sucked in to the addictive story and Alderson's brilliant writing that accompanies it. I totally believed in every single thing that Lila said or did, and I loved the relationships she had with her brother Jack and his beat friend Alex. These characters had practically all grown up together, and their bond was like unbreakable steel. Nothing, not even shocking, life-changing revelations, could tear them apart or make them lose faith in each other, and that aspect of the characterisation was by far my favourite. They all seemed so genuine and real, which is something I hadn't seen for a while.
I mentioned earlier that Hunting Lila had a paranormal theme, and it does, though it's not the focus of the entire novel. It's also not one of those twists where you really have to stretch your imagination to make it believable, which was also a nice change. The non-stop action and fast pace helped keep the book moving at a good speed, and I can honestly say there are hardly any slow parts. Or if there are, they're of the excellent romantic kind!
Hunting Lila had plenty of romance, but the kind of romance (and boy) who sweeps you of your feet from its first appearance. The chemistry between Lila and Alex literally sizzled on the page, and the fact that Lila's feelings were seemingly unrequited made the tension even higher. I was on the edge of my seat for a good portion of the book, there was just so much going on and so much to take in. It was very, very exciting!
So far, I've recommended Hunting Lila to everyone I possibly can. It's a fine novel - one of the best of the year - and I can't wait to see what happens next. Alderson has hit the mark with this one, and I'm sure there's someone out there just waiting to award it best debut YA release of 2011. Read it as soon as possible!