Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Review: Found by Stacey Wallace Benefiel

Published by: All Night Reads
Release date:
24th February 2013
Penny Black #1
I got it from:

Goodreads summary:
Penny Black hasn’t had it easy. Just about everything you’d expect to happen to a harassed foster-kid turned junkie has happened to Penny. Add in the mysterious power to rewind time, conducting events around her, and it’s a wonder she held up on the streets for so many years. Now, at seventeen, the New Society has found her. Finally, Penny is where she belongs. But that doesn’t stop the visions, or the need to protect the victims shown to her.

Wyatt Adams is excited and intrigued when his sister Melody assigns him to be Penny’s Lookout. Being the youngest, and hopelessly ordinary in the family that created the New Society, has left Wyatt feeling like he has a lot to prove -- and Penny is a big deal. She’s got abilities that surpass any he’s seen before…and pretty much every quality he looks for in a girlfriend, but no one needs to know about that, especially Penny.

My review:
Firstly, I need to admit that I haven't read the Zellie Wells Trilogy, which is a bit of an oversight on my part. I thought because this was stated as a companion trilogy rather than a follow-on, I'd be okay with not having read the original trilogy. However, I would advise you to read the Zellie Wells books first, because I did spend the first couple of chapters being a bit confused and trying to work out how this world works. To be fair, it wasn't that hard to work out - the author does a good enough job of making it possible to start on this book without the benefit of having read the first trilogy, but I think anyone who hasn't come across Stacey Wallace Benefiel before would do well to start with Glimpse and work your way along from there. Personally, I wish I'd read the Zellie books simply because I really enjoyed Found, and the references to the characters from the Zellie books made me wish I knew them better.

Penny Black is a Retroact - someone who has visions of the future, and can pause and rewind time in order to alter it. That right there is a pretty big thing to get your head around. It's best not to think about it too hard or you'll give yourself a headache. Benefiel handles the complexities of altering time really well in the book - offering just enough detail to make what a Retroact does kind of plausible (in a fiction way!), whilst not getting bogged down in the whole butterfly effect thing.

Penny is a great character. Strong, prickly and sassy, she's someone who's been on her own for most of her life, relying on no-one but herself. She doesn't even realise how special she is - she heals ultra-fast but she assumes it's normal because she's never talked to anyone about it before. There's a great girl/guy role reversal here, as Penny is the one who's had a lot of experience with guys, and love interest Wyatt is the sweet and innocent one. I'm a big fan of dual PoV books, and Found is no exception. Penny and Wyatt are such different characters, even though they seem like they're made for each other, and getting both their sides makes the story that much more interesting. First person writing makes it much easier to get really into the main character, but you often feel like you're missing out on what other characters are thinking, so dual PoV works perfectly.

Benefiel's characters are all good - we have the gang from the Zellie Wells trilogy who are obviously really well-developed characters, then we have some of the other kids at the x-men-style school, making up a large, complex but interesting cast. I enjoyed the way there are both gay and straight relationships between characters, and the whole Trigger thing (Retroacts all have a soulmate type person that they're drawn to sexually) was a great new take on relationships.

The story gets a bit Scooby Doo, with a major mystery, a group of kids running around trying to foil the baddies and so on, but it works, it really does. It's fast-paced, fun, exciting, full of brilliant characters and the ending is just crazy. I can't wait to read the next book in the trilogy.

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