Month: December 2014

NOTHING SOMETHING NOTHING

nothingCasia Schreyer’s fine YA novel, Nothing Everything Nothing takes a realistic look at a number of issues facing young teens, including bulimia, alcohol, bullying, body image and suicide. What struck me about the novel is how seamlessly these elements are integrated into the story without being preachy. That’s because the story isn’t about nude photos on social media (one of the plot elements). The story is about Molly.

Molly is a slightly overweight teen trying to find a place with the in-crowd. Grasping for the brass ring of popularity has its perils, and a cruel streak runs through each of her would-be friends. Lance, the handsome boy who seems to like her, senses a vulnerable target. Kristen, Julie and Amanda have their own reasons for inviting Molly into their circle. But when events turn sour, Molly finds herself saddled with bad choices and the prospect of unending humiliation.

Now Lance is posting personal photos, and they’ve gone viral. The girls want nothing to do with Molly. The resulting erosion of Molly’s sense of self is frighteningly realistic. Schreyer knows the teen mindset and does a brilliant job of staying in voice. Watching Molly crumble is like viewing an accident—disturbing as hell, but how can you turn away?

Molly is not always a likeable character, which is as it should be. She might have been a stronger character, but the story is about her vulnerabilities—weaknesses shared by millions of teens. And though this story is dark, there are characters (friend Brandon and Molly’s mother) who weigh in on the side of love.

Nothing Everything Nothing is a first-rate novel with important themes and memorable characters. The writing is consistently fine. Schreyer’s book is a winner. (Five stars out of five)

CRYSTAL ROSE

Crystal Rose_final small (1)T. S.. Roberts’ Crystal Rose is a psychic investigator who solves paranormal cases with the help of her team. A new case seems to shed some light on her forgotten past—Crystal has no idea who she really is. Worse, no one ever came forward to find a “missing person” after the accident that left her without a memory. Did no one care about her?

A series of cases unwrap some of the mystery. I found the plot to be a clever series of interlocking puzzles—a pleasant surprise. Each revelation brings on a new set of questions. The ending answers those questions, but leaves the possibility open for a series.

Group interactions add a layer of interest and authenticity to the novella. The configuration of Crystal’s support staff actually makes some sense. Leah runs the business end, from case management to promotions. Julie, the heart of Crystal’s support team, is also the money behind the outfit. And Owen, with his background in the priesthood, gives the group a sense of legitimacy—and a leg up when possession is involved.

Crystal Rose is a Dark Silo Press publication, so of course, we like the tale. The best part of this story is the friendship between the members of the team. There’s no way not to like these people. The clockwork plot seems inevitable only in retrospect, which makes the ending both dark and surprising. (Five stars out of five)