Saturday, 14 May 2011

Spellbound by Cara Lynn Schultz

4 stars. (Young Adult - PNR)

Spellbound by Cara Lynn Schultz
ARC copy provided by Harlequin Teen and netGalley
Expected publication: June 28th 2011 by Harlequin Teen 
Paperback, 384 pages

I received this book for review through netGalley from Harlequin Teen. I don't know what I was expecting going in, but I must say I was very pleasantly surprised by what I got. Spellbound was a really fun, interesting and cute read about a girl trying to fit in at her new school while trying to understand the strange pull she seems to have towards a classmate. Enter Brendan Salinger, smart, super hot, funny and very interested in Emma.

I was half in love with the guy when he stepped into class on Emma's first day. I also very much appreciated that Shultz made the relationship between Emma and Brendan believable. Starting with Twilight I've read way to many books where the girl and guy have some inexplicable connection they are both willing to die for and yet, this amazing soul connection is never explained to readers. I don't know how I'm supposed to invest myself in a book or it's characters when the fundamental relationship seems underdeveloped and chaotic. Well, have no fear with this book. Emma and Brendan connect from the start and you can tell that they are intrigued and fascinated by one another, more so on Emma's part since the book is told from her perspective, but readers are also lead through their relationship from the very beginning. It's not like they meet and fall in love the next day. There is a noticeable evolution in the attraction these two feel for one another and you could feel it as a reader. It's normal and very high school and it's sweet and makes your heart flutter in some scenes.
Brendan is very protective of Emma, but she in turn is a very strong and capable girl. She stands up to the rich b*tch in school on her first day and sticks up for her cousin when her reputation is smeared by the school jock (or jerk, whichever) - who is very sinister and a very good villain. I liked that Emma wasn't a wimp or a damsel in distress. She'd been through some tough experiences in her short life and she knows how to take care of herself. I liked that about Emma, because it meant that she was willing to open herself up to Brendan without loosing herself.
The only thing I would have liked is for their relationship to stay in the same zone of 'normalcy' it started in once they find out the reason they feel so connected to one another. It made sense why they would become so committed so fast, but I did miss the normal evolution of their dating once they jump started everything when they found out the truth about one another. It really is just a small point, but it would have been nice to see them be a bit weary or wondering or even just get in a fight without making up minutes later.

Brendan was a really great hero though, he was compelling and captivating and very loving. I loved his determination and his attitude even if he did pull the whole - love you ignore you schtick in the beginning with Emma.

The secondary characters were great! Each and every one of them. Ashley, Emma's younger cousin was sweet and naive but very loving and a great friend to Emma. Jenn and Cisco were equally entertaining, although I could have done with seeing them a little more. It felt like once Brendan and Emma got together the friends fell off the radar a bit. They were great when you saw them though. Especially Cisco.
Angelique was also a nice addition, although I think she could have had more of a role beyond simply being the one to help Emma unearth the truth.

Overall this book was a great debut and kept me glued to the pages as I read and read and read. It was unique and intriguing and very touching. On a final note I think that the issue Brendan and Emma face could have been a little more complex. The way to saving one another could have been more complex and I felt the conflict ended a little too easily, although the final showdown between Emma, Brendan and the villain was very well executed. It left the door open for more drama and danger if, Schultz is planning on a second book. There is a hint that there will be more stories about these characters and if that is the case I will definitely be picking them up once they're published.
This book is an definite must read, great writing with a unique and very admirable heroine. This girl has gumption!

(thanks to netGalley and Harlequin Teen for the arc copy)

1 comment:

  1. This book looks really good! Excellent review! I'll have to grab a copy foam the library when it is finally published! :)