One of the advantages to having a co-worker who goes to all the ALA conventions each year is that she brings back a bevy of advanced reading copies. It is a gleeful moment for me when Kristin unpacks her large backpack full of brand new, not-even-yet published books. What treasures will I discover from this convention? How many books will Kristin let me squirrel away in my cubby? Will she still share her arcs when she realizes I am blogging them?!
The first of the bounty I read from Kristin's trip to the midwinter conference was one I want to highly recommend to teen librarians for purchase. It doesn't come out until June, but Evernight by Claudia Gray will satisfy all those readers who want something like Stephenie Meyer's Twilight. There are similar elements in both books: supernatural characters and romance. Evernight feels very similar to Twilight, but without being a Twilight ripoff. In some ways, I think I like Evernight better. There were several twists and turns, and the main character, despite being painfully shy, is strong and intirguing. The pacing was also much more even than the first Meyer book, and the action kept me interested until the end.
Evernight opens with sixteen-year-old Bianca fleeing her creepy gothic boarding school, Evernight. She doesn't want to be there, and she's trying to make a statement to her parents (two new teachers at the school) about her displeasure at being transplanted from her small town to this elite school where the shy Bianca already senses she won't fit in. Bianca figures if she runs away before classes start, her parents will be forced to see the mistake they have made. But as she runs into the woods surrounding the school, a young man takes off after her. He moves preternaturally fast, and he tackles Bianca, asking her, "Did you see who was after you?" This is how Bianca first meets Jared, a good-looking new student who seems suspicious of Evernight and determined to protect Bianca from some menace he won't explain. Bianca feels an immediate connection to Jared and decides that maybe even a socially awkward teenage girl can make it if she has someone as special as Jared by her side. Unfortunately, things go steadily downhill after this. The other students are creepily perfect. They're all poised, sophisticated, and mindblowingly wealthy. They seem like they belong to another species altogether. . . and it will surprise no one that this is exactly the case. Something isn't right at Evernight. Finding out exactly what that "something" entails is the fun of the read--that and the starcrossed, fledgling romance between Bianca and the mysterious Jared.
I enoyed this very much, and I know it will be popular. It's fast and fun, suspenseful and romantic. Teen readers are sure to enjoy the twists. I didn't see them coming, and I liked that I was taken by surprise. (And here I shall say no more for fear of spoilers.) This is the author's first novel, and it had better be the first in a series so I can find out what happens next. I have a feeling teens are going to feel the same way.