Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Review: Night Owls by Jenn Bennett

Published by: Simon & Schuster UK
Release date: 13th August 2015
Series:  n/a

I got it from: Netgalley
Goodreads summary:

Since school had let out in May, gold graffiti had been popping up around San Francisco. Single words painted in enormous golden letters appeared on bridges and building fronts. Not semi-illegible, angry gang tags, but beautifully executed fonts done by someone with talent and skill...

Meeting Jack on the Owl—San Francisco's night bus—turns Beatrix's world upside down. Jack is charming, wildly attractive...and possibly one of San Francisco's most notorious graffiti artists.

On midnight rides and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who this enigmatic boy really is. But Jack is hiding much more - and can she uncover the truth that leaves him so wounded?

My review: 
I haven't read any of Bennett's adult fiction, and I know this is her first foray into YA, but I really hope it isn't her last. Here is a writer who knows her stuff. With a style reminiscent of Maggie Stiefvater and David Levithan (high praise indeed coming from me), she enchants and ensnares the reader with cunningly-placed descriptions and meaningful yet pithy dialogue.

Bex is an infinitely complex character, an artist with an obsession for the somewhat macabre subject of human anatomy. She has removed all colour from her life, working only in monochrome, a habit that has overflowed into her clothing choices too. She studies hard, and leaves the drinking and partying to her brother Heath.

Then she meets Jack. He's her opposite - mysterious, a law-breaking graffiti artist, bold and sexy. Turns out they have a couple of things in common though - a tenacity that verges on stubbornness, and the chemistry that flows easily between them. Before long, Bex is defying her mother and sneaking out (challenging the rules for all the best reasons), while Jack is finally letting someone in to the biggest secret in his family.

I love that Bex wants to draw cadavers for a living. Right away, that tells you something about her character. She's precise, brave, strong, single-minded and not afraid to live outside of the norm. She is the unusual combination of artistry and science. When we first meet her though, she's stagnating. She's too focused on the scientific side, not allowing her artist's heart out. Jack changes that, challenging her and coaxing out her packed-away heart. As always, the best relationships bring with them a synergy, strengthening each party so that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Bex and Jack definitely bring out the best in one another, and the pull of attraction between them is palpable from the very start. The banter between them is a joy to read as well.

Bex is a straight-talking type, and I loved the honesty in her voice. The physical pull that Jack holds for her and her worry over the unconventional start of their relationship were evident in her thoughts, and as things progressed, along with other issues and influences in her life, us readers get the full scoop of what's going on in her head.

Night Owls is contemporary romance that feels like a fairy tale at times, in all the best ways. Dealing with family issues and touching on mental health problems in addition to the usual teen dramas, it's a story that's packed full of life. It's set in San Francisco, and Bennett's descriptions of the city made me feel like I was right there. Bex and Jack slammed their way into my heart and mind, and when the book ended it was a wrench to let them go.

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