The Great Unknowable End

Giving up her dreams in order to care for her family after her brother abandons them, Stella must now face her realizations that she will likely never pursue her passion for engineering. Born into a commune in Kansas, Galliard lives what he believes to be the best place for humanity, moreso as a person with Tourette’s; a life-altering decision makes his world seem to crumble around him as his desires go unanswered and he finds himself doubting the leaders of his home.

I found this novel to be extremely well balanced, incorporating so many plot points that could have easily been a messy web had the writer not kept a tight grip on them. There is adventure, mystery, romance, and as this is all happening, natural disasters plague Kansas, addinng to the tension of these characters. Our two protagonists, Stella and Galliard, both begin in their separate lives that seem to have no link to one another, but when it is revealed that Stella’s brother is actually a friend of Galliard’s, things become shaky, especially when friendships are broken and secrets are brought out.

Stella has a dream to attend college and study engineering, but she is far too committed to her family to consider leaving them even to pursue her dreams. Galliard is a muscician that finds himself in a position that prevents him from pursuing his goals of sharing his music. The two are raised in different worlds but ultimately face the same the dilemma of incapable of pursuing their dreams for the sake of others or their futures. I initially began the novel more interested in the natural disasters, but almost immediately after became invested in the characters and didn’t even mind that there was no real explanation to the strange events that occurred in the end.

I do remain curious as to why the Ormsbee chose the plot to take place in the year 1977; I easily found myself forgetting that this wasn’t taking place in current time until moments such as Elvis’s death is mentioned near the end. It isn’t necessarily good or bad that I forgot the setting’s time, but did make me wonder if anything else could have made it much more solid. Throughout the novel there is also this exchange of letters between Stella and her brother Craig, but by the end of the novel, there had been so few letters that when they did appear, they did not seem as important or interesting to me. I believe the letters are essential to the plot but I would have liked to have seen a lot of these letters between the chapters.

If you are looking for a well-paced young adult novel, then this is a complete recommendation!

A copy was provided to me by NetGalley. All opinions and ratings mentioned are my own.

Will Haunt You

A musician finds himself thrust into a living nightmare where he must now face his mistakes after reading a book that has now made him a part of the story. Will Haunt You is a horror novel that aims to thrust the readers into the clutches of this mysterious book alongside our main character, Jesse. It is a seemingly strange journey with more questions than answers and despite going full circle by the end, there is still much left to ponder over this created universe and the concept of the novel’s delivery.

Being an avid reader of horror, I found the plot following Jesse and this book he has read to be interesting. The novel mentions this mysterious name, Obsideo, multiple times, making it become this frightening and inexplainable thing that is manipulating Jesse’s reality and those important to him. The way he is being pushed into different environment with seemingly unconnected situations of previous experiments gives me a (although funny) Spooky’s House of Jump Scares vibe with the different rooms, left behind journals, and terrifying monsters or characters appearing before the protagonist.

Jesse isn’t an amazing character, he isn’t a person I felt was well-liked, and the novel did a great job of using the first-person perspective of Jesse to detail the fact that he was aware of his errors and didn’t deserve any sort of forgiveness. His awareness makes him human and there is this immense guilt he carries because of his fault at his son being disabled after an accident involving Jesse in a drunken stupor. There is definitely a lot of depth to him, but I honestly found myself much more interested in the environment than his history. There are several moments where Jesse listen to a scientific journal and read the journal of a previous victim and I wished there was much more of these documents tossed into the environment.

Brian Kirk

Brian Kirk actually has a post on his own blog in which he goes a bit further into the inspiration for this novel. Basically a neighboring couple in his neighborhood had a strange experience with a book titled Obsideo. There are screenshot of this couple documenting this experience and definitely leaves you with chills down your spine. You can check it out here, if you dare.

This novel didn’t exactly have me on the edge of my seat and did take me some time to get through, but I would like to see more of this story expanded on, whether it be through different characters or an anthology of documents from the mysterious book itself. The story clearly wanted the readers to be immersed through the fourth wall breaks, but it just didn’t pull it off and is the reason I was skeptical over my thoughts on the book. If you are a fan of creepy mysteries, then I suggest you take a look at this book once it is available for purchase, especially when this novel is sure to have many have their own theories and thoughts on the plot and setting(s).

This Advanced Reader’s Copy was provided to me by NetGalley and Flame Tree Press.

Dear Jane

A young woman plagued with a past filled with memories of pain and loneliness, Kit Kat is once again thrust into a world where although she feels love and gratitude toward her new life, she lacks the support system she so desires and needs. Dear Jane is a beautiful coming-of-age story about the meaning of maternal bonds, a desire to hold onto an identity, and ultimately, the ability to forgive yourself and others.

Dear Jane is not a simple read and will leave you shaking your head in shock and anger. The novel touches on very heavy topics from emotional abuse to physical trauma and the voice of the young woman secretly sharing her experiences in a series of letters creates a bigger impact. From start to finish, I couldn’t find myself putting the book down and became emotionally committed to Kit Kat’s journey and emotional growth as she struggles to stand up for herself and ultimately save herself from those she sought love from. The novel is unafraid of details and warn readers that it goes into graphic details of abuse and self harm, and implore to take into mind that this novel is not a story of escape, but rather one of being incapable of escaping memories and trauma.

Special thanks to the teams at Black Rose Writing and NetGalley for providing me with a reviewer’s copy of the novel and I encourage you to check out this book for yourself.

Marina DelVecchio was a former English teachers now teaching at a North Carolina community college. She has an MS in English and Secondary Education from Queen College in New York. She has been a recipient of several awards and has had several works published including those from The Huffington Post, The New Agenda, and BlogHer.  

I Am Alfonso Jones

This beautifully written and illustrated graphic novel that puts to words the horrors and emotional terror that bring about these fights for acknowledgement over police brutality on the black and brown body, making this piece a visual of the deaths behind the Black Lives Matter Movements. 

Alfonso Jones is a student that eagerly awaits the day his father is released from prison for a crime he did not commit, is preparing for a modern rendition of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and slowly is gaining the courage to confess his feelings to a close friend. An errand to buy a new suit becomes fatal when an officer mistakes a clothes hangar in Alfonso’s hand for a gun and shoots him, taking the life of the young man. Now Alfonso is riding on a train through times alongside the spirits of men and women known for their tragic deaths at the hands of the police, as he bears witness to the after-affects of his death. Community, friends, and family rally together in an emotional and physical fight for justice, while accepting the terrible truth that Alfonso is gone and cannot get the chance to meet his father in person. 

Black Lives Matter is an activist movement that aims brings to light the violence and systemic aggression of black people, but with media rarely displaying both sides of everything, it is often difficult to remember that there is more than what we are being shown. There are people driven by fear,  loss, and anger behind this movement, and Tony Medina captures that in this story. 

You are witnessing the raw emotion of these individuals and is nearly impossible to not share the feeling of loss as we see friends and family fight for the wrongful shooting of their son and best friend. The train filled with spirits also is a literal visual of this system aggression traveling through time, repeated act with different people, all with people fighting to stop the violence. Alfonso has become a vessel for this terrible chain of deaths and seeing all these people in one location, puts an even scarier reality as we see just how many have lost their lives to violence through authority figures. It a disturbing yet powerful image, especially when Alfonso is seeing what his death has trigger in his community and even around the world. 

Two of the most impacting character are the two women in Alfonso’s life: his mother, Cynthia, and Danetta. His mother being the transitions of her son throughout his entire lifetime and the being a representation of the mothers who lose their son to police brutality and what it is like to face a system that seems determined to protect the one behind the uniform. Danetta is the love interest of Alfonso in life and death, and represents the youths that are affected by the death of a peer and friend, and in her case, being a witness to the shooting. 

Cynthia had to witness her husband get taken away for something he did not commit, and is once again thrust into a deep ocean of loss and despair over Alfonso’s death. She has been wronged by the system that is supposed to protect her twice and she doesn’t hold back in voicing her anger over the world and calling out the media for showing only what they wish to see, her crying over the loss of a son, when it is more than that, he wasn’t lost, he was taken, and that is something she will not accept. 

Danetta is a witnes to her friend’s murder and it is never unremembered that this is a young woman in high school that is dealing with the loss and is still expected to cram for exams. There is a powerful scene depicted in this panel that shows a sobbing Danetta who is speaking to her classmates as they voice their opinions on if all police are to blame for the continued police brutality against black people. The teacher beautifully explains that not all police can be to blame, but there is absolutely a problem with policing and that was something that needed to be fought against fiercely. It is an extremely emotional tense moment as we see that these are children, not even entered into society as adults, already being thrust into a world of violence and fear. 

This graphic novel is a must-read for adults and young adults alike.