Tuesday, May 14, 2013
ARC Review: Underneath
Underneath by Sarah Jamila Stevenson
YA Paranormal Contemporary
Scheduled to release June 8
Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I'm not entirely sure why this book called to me when I was browsing on Netgalley but I think I got more of a contemporary vibe from it, which is always highly appealing to me. I couldn't read only contemporary titles but that is the genre to which I always return.
Although this book is set in the present, it does have a paranormal twist. Main character Sunny suddenly finds herself with the ability to hear people's intense thoughts and emotions, something that completely discombobulates her in the wake of her beloved older cousin's suicide. Especially unnerving is that, upon reading the cousin's journal, it seems as if this cousin had the same ability. Can Sunny navigate the treachery waters of high school and balance her new talents?
Basically Sunny's first reaction to this new discovery is to drop her old jock friends and start hanging with a more emo crowd, composed of those who actually value her. Turns out her former friends were really shallow and judgmental and not worthy of her. This, combined with Sunny's sadness over her cousin's death and the ensuing problems for her aunt and uncle, gave the book a pretty melancholy tone. It was appropriate but be warned if you're hoping for a happier read.
The real strength of this novel to me was just the unpredictable plot points. I anticipated certain events would occur as have in other YA novels but they didn't pan out quite the same way. Especially of interest was the romance subplot, which did not go at all the way I expected. I was very pleased with that. I also liked that Sunny is of Pakistani descent with very New Agey parents-a nice addition to the very white bread upper middle class heroines who permeate YA.
Admittedly this book's pace is a bit on the slower side as seems to be pretty typical for contemporary novels. It doesn't have the big epic feel of fantasies or dystopias. That's something I like and appreciate-its quieter virtues were very pleasing to me.