Intrinsical by Lani Woodland
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
So, we'll start with some backstory... Prepare yourselves, it's a little lengthy (And that's possibly an understatement).
I first stumbled upon this book by browsing through goodreads in a half-bored, cover-catatonic state. Skimming through lists of 'Beautiful YA Covers for 2010' and 'Most Exciting Upcoming YA Novels for 2010' etc. And who doesn't do that on occasion? Other than those of you who only go on your Goodreads accounts every six months (Come on people! Join us bookworms!). But the point is, at first glance, I immediately made a mental note of this book. I mean, come on... LOOK at that cover and tell me it's not downright gorgeous and all-around intriguing! I was convinced, after finding out that it was a debut novel and all, that I had found a gem. But of course, it was due to come out in August.
August... the month that every YA book seemed to want to come out on! I had made demands for books like CLOCKWORK ANGEL by Cassandra Clare, NEVERMORE by Kelly Creagh, THE HAUNTED by Jessica Verday, and PARANORMALCY by Kiersten White... I mean, there were some heavy-duty books coming out. Thus, the decision to wait. You see, I haven't quite figured out where to plant my money trees yet, hence the short supply of funds. Dang dogs of mine... always digging...
And then... as if by fate, I received a message in my inbox from none other than Lani Woodland. It was a simple reply about some contest information I had sent out in a mass message through my group GOODWRITERS for GOODREADS. And I was so shocked! I recognized the name because, honestly... how was I going to forget that cover (And interesting piece of information that I found out after talking with her, she took the picture for the cover... Yep! All credit goes to the author for making this book's cover so gorgeous! And may I add that it's underwater? Skills man... Skills)? Mental post-it slammed onto the forefront of my brain and all, I responded like a giddy fan girl, and most unconventionally at that "Hey! You're Lani Woodland! Author of INTRINSICAL" (Yes, you CAN call me by my other nickname Captain Obvious!) She responded, in that simple grace with which all authors seem to have when talking to tactless fangirls they have never met. I like to think it was my careful research from my first sighting of her debut where I stumbled upon her blog and found out that INTRINSICAL started out as a fanfiction for one of her favorite television shows! That alone was enough to get me to want to read it because I knew right then and there that she hadn't wrote INTRINSICAL for any reason other than because it was something fun to do! Perhaps something she HAD to write! I know how that is... But alas, at the time I was unable to get my hands on it because of depleted funds, as mentioned earlier. However, that did not stop me from reading the sneak peek on the book's website where the first two chapters are posted, which was enough to torture me! How I cursed my bank account that day!
The funny thing is, after much reading, and too much waiting, one glorious day, Lani Woodland messaged me again and asked me if I would review her book. And since you're reading this, I presume you know exactly what I said. Therefore any details about the manner in which I accepted, in all brilliant vocabulary I assure you, is unnecessary... But again, I must thank her for sending me a copy. I love books too much to pass up an opportunity like this! And how wonderful it is that INTRINSICAL turned out to be so much more than I had ever guessed!
Backstory over... So, onto the review of INTRINSICAL:
I'm going to break it down into two parts (Story and Characters), because I always admire reviews that can separate the main aspects of a story. It makes it that much easier to find exactly what I'm looking for and what I'm not looking for in a book.
There are several things that make this section work. One aspect that truly makes or breaks this is the writing style. INTRINSICAL is told in the first point of view, which has become pretty normal for YA literature these days. At first, I told myself not to look too closely at this subject because it is, after all, a debut, but there wasn't any need to cut Lani any slack. She really proved she can write! At times, I marvelled over some of her comparisons and the way that she described exactly how Yara was feeling. Even the dialogue was entertaining. Yara and Brent's snappy conversations, or I digress, more like snappy arguments and teasing, really had me laughing sometimes! Over all, I was pleasantly surprised by how well INTRINSICAL was written.
Secondly, the plot is another vital part of a story. If things don't add up, or become too painstakingly obvious, a book just isn't worth the read. But again, that wasn't the case with this one! I was thrown for a loop quite a few times in this book and quite happy about it! But let me break down the elements of this story a little more...
MYSTERY: Golden. I sure as fire didn't know how this was going to end and I was constantly guessing at who the murderer was. A+ for Mystery!
SUPERNATURAL FACTOR: Another win, win. Ghosts aren't the mainstream in YA today. Honestly there are only a handful in what is now a sea of vampires, vampires, werewolves, vampires, angels, vampires, and vampires AND werewolves. So a new story about ghosts is original and intriguing. A+ for something fresh!
ACTION: Definitely pulse-quickening. There were only a few times that I felt confused and those were usually in the short skirmishes between what is the mist and our lead characters. I still give this part of the plot a solid A.
ROMANCE: Perfect for Young Adult. It was sweet, longing, and something that developed over the story. It wasn't impossible to believe love at first sight and it wasn't missing anything. I wanted things to work out in this section just as much as Yara and I'm a total sucker for subtle romance in stories sooo A++ because this part totally rocked.
And that pretty much wraps up the story section of this review. It's hard to go wrong after that!
Yara: At first, I didn't really relate to Yara. When I started reading, I assumed that she was just like any other teenage girl- reading gossip magazines, crushing on cute boys at school, dealing with her school work and hanging out with her best friend Cherie... All of it normal and expected. Of course, this is excluding the Prologue where the whole story starts off with a bang! Or a slow mist trying to murder someone, you know, same difference! And she was admirable- jumping right in, without hesitation, to save the day! But after that, normalcy kicked in and I was still busy trying to peg her character down... Later though, Yara really proves herself and really started becoming relatable. I found myself sympathizing with her and even at times cheering her on. I always hate it when the main character is a whiney, teenage girl that can't see past her own problems or concerns. Yara wasn't one of these. She was brave, selfless, caring, and strong in her own right.
Brent: The confusing one for me. The beginning didn't have me warming up to Brent. I started off unsure about him at every turn, looking for the culprit in this paranormal mystery. Sure, he was the cute boy in the story... The crush! And I knew that Yara would like him, but that didn't mean I was going to be fooled! Props to Lani Woodland for showing me... After that initial plot twist that I was NOT expecting in the least, I couldn't get enough of this guy! That hook in Yara's gut that connects her to him, let's just say I was having similar sympathy pains... And he wasn't just the cute, overbearing, swoon-worthy male lead. He was real. He was relatable. He wasn't one of those guys that could never in a million years exist, save for a piece of fiction. Brent turned out to be believable and lovable!
Villain/Mist: Since I don't want to post any spoilers, I'm going to leave the villain unnamed so you can buy this book and find out for yourself! I won't say much, but I was surprised that I could feel any sympathy for evil, even at the end. What's more, it gave me the creeps! So more props! That's what a supernatural villain is supposed to do!
Supporting Cast: I won't make this list of characters TOO long, but the leads' friends like Cherie and Steve were heart-warming! I always enjoyed a good scene with those two, and was glad to finally read a YA novel where friends weren't stabbing each other in the back and/or hanging around on the sidelines in all their obliviousness. They actually played a part and behaved like living, breathing people!
In the end, I have to say that I'm sorry...
That it's over, that is. I really, really enjoyed INTRINSICAL. It exceeded my expectations and surprised me. I hadn't expected to walk away with new imaginary friends like Yara and Brent and Cherie and Steve. I hadn't expected to close the book and be sad that there was no more to read. But that's exactly what happened. While INTRINSICAL is perfectly capable of remaining a stand-alone novel, I actually do kind of hope that there might be a sequel. I would absolutely love to read more of these characters, and honestly the ending leaves this open as a possibility. If there is no sequel though, I just hope that Lani Woodland simply keeps writing and publishes another book to read! Because she has all the talent in the world to do so!
And now that I've exhausted everyone's mind with such an extensive review, if you think that you'll like a good story with ghosts, mystery, romance, and truly awesome characters, I suggest you buy INTRINSICAL. It is all of this and more!
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