Monday, January 14, 2013

review: The Edge of Nowhere by Elizabeth George

The Edge of Nowhere by Elizabeth George
PUB: Sept. 4th 2012
by Viking Juvenile
REVIEW COPY: personal hardcover
440 pages
ISBN: 0670012963

Whidbey Island may be only a ferry ride from Seattle, but it's a world apart. When Becca King arrives there, she doesn't suspect the island will become her home for the next four years. Put at risk by her ability to hear "whispers"--the thoughts of others--Becca is on the run from her stepfather, whose criminal activities she has discovered. Stranded and alone, Becca is soon befriended by Derric, a Ugandon orphan adopted by a local family; Seth, a kindhearted musician and high school dropout; Debbie, a recovering alcoholic who takes her in; and Diana, with whom Becca shares a mysterious psychic connection.

The Edge of Nowhere is Elizabeth George's first foray into YA writing and what a great start it is. This is a smart book with strong characters and an interesting mystery. 
There is a paranormal element to the story, in Becca, the main character's ability to hear "whispers" of what the people around her are thinking. 

While Becca has learned to keep this ability a secret from everyone but her mother and grandmother, things go wrong when Becca's mother mistakenly trusts the wrong man with the information about what Becca can do. This sets off the story and lands Becca on Whidby Island, trying to fumble her way through staying under the radar while she waits for her mother to come and get her.

Becca becomes drawn into the mysteries and histories of the inhabitants of the small community she finds herself in and can't seem to avoid becoming part of the action.

All of the characters in The Edge of Nowhere are so well formed that even when we know very little about them, we know that it's because there are secrets that have yet to be discovered. 

While Becca is the main character and most of the book follows her, the author often jumps to other characters and shows the reader their thoughts, feelings, and actions in greater detail. This kept the story moving sharply along. When Becca is no longer able to give the reader the information we need, we learn more from a secondary character that keeps the plot rolling.

While The Edge of Nowhere has some paranormal elements, it is, first and foremost a mystery and it reads like one. I found the pacing and the set-ups fit perfectly into a standard mystery form and enjoyed discovering the "who-dunnit". The actual "who" was a bit anticlimactic to me, but the end of the book offers an exciting hint of adventure that will kick off the second book in this series with a bang.

I'll definitely be reading the next book in this series and I'll hopefully finally get the chance to read more Elizabeth George. She's been on my must-try list all of last year and this year I plan to make it happen.

All in all, a smart well crafted mystery for the YA reader to enjoy with lots of potential for the story to grow in interesting and unexpected ways.


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