Rating: Cannot Recommend
Reading/Interest Level: Young Adult
Author: Karsten Knight
Publisher: Simon & Schuster BFYR
After her sister Eve murders a classmate by summoning a lightning bolt, Ashline enters Blackwood Academy, attempting to flee her past. However, Serena, a self-proclaimed siren, claims responsibility for summoning Ash and four others to the academy. Serena declares they are reincarnated gods from around the world and must follow instructions from Serena’s mysterious friend Jack to prevent their reincarnation cycles from being broken. Ash is skeptical about the instructions, especially when Jack is revealed to be one of many shadow monsters roaming the nearby woods. As Ash and her classmates try to make sense of their newfound powers, Eve arrives to recruit them for another mysterious figure, Blink. Eve wins only one person over, and after giving Ash an ultimatum, Eve and her recruit attack the remaining reincarnated gods at a school party, killing one of them. As Ash chases Eve down to save her boyfriend, Colt, a shadow monster appears and kills Eve. In the aftermath, Ash discovers that Colt is actually Blink.
While this novel is marketed toward young adults, the characters feel and act more like college students: although the characters are in high school, there is considerable drinking and several sexual encounters. Ashline does experience some character growth as she separates herself emotionally from her sister’s violence, but many other characters seem to worsen, increasing in violence and crudeness. In addition, while the idea of having reincarnated gods from multiple cultures is a unique spin on the mythology trend, the author focuses too much on that one concept. As a result, the ending feels rushed as multiple plot points and new character developments are introduced. Within the last seventy pages, two characters die, one character reveals she is pregnant, Jack is revealed to be a shadow monster, a new character appears and declares a revenge scheme, and Colt is revealed to be a leader of an organization that has only been vaguely alluded to. Overall, the crass content, lack of character development, and hastily added cliffhangers create an unpolished, unsatisfying read.
*Contains moderate language, moderate sexual content, moderate violence, and moderate drug abuse.