Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Review: Banished by Sophie Littlefield

There isn’t much worth living for in Gypsum, Missouri—or Trashtown, as the rich kids call the run-down neighborhood where sixteen-year-old Hailey Tarbell lives. Hailey figures she’ll never belong—not with the popular kids at school, not with the rejects, not even with her cruel, sickly grandmother, who deals drugs out of their basement. Hailey never knew her dead mother, and she has no idea who her father was, but at least she has her four-year-old foster brother, Chub. Once she turns eighteen, Hailey plans to take Chub far from Gypsum and start a new life where no one can find them.

But when a classmate is injured in gym class, Hailey discovers a gift for healing that she never knew she possessed—and that she cannot ignore. Not only can she heal, she can bring the dying back to life. Confused by her powers, Hailey searches for answers but finds only more questions, until a mysterious visitor shows up at Gram’s house, claiming to be Hailey’s aunt Prairie.

There are people who will stop at nothing to keep Hailey in Trashtown, living out a legacy of despair and suffering. But when Prairie saves both Hailey and Chub from armed attackers who invade Gram’s house in the middle of the night, Hailey must decide where to place her trust. Will Prairie’s past, and the long-buried secret that caused her to leave Gypsum years earlier, ruin them all? Because as Hailey will soon find out, their power to heal is just the beginning.

This gripping novel from thriller writer Sophie Littlefield blazes a trail from small-town Missouri to the big city as Hailey battles an evil greater than she ever imagined, while discovering strengths she never knew she had.

This book was darker than I had expected. That is in no way a complaint, but it's worth commenting on. I would not recommend this book for very young readers, but more for middle teens and up, in my humble opinion. Besides being dark, the story was thrilling right up to the last page and kept me engrossed right to the end.

Our lead character is Hailey, a small town girl with a crappy home life and who sits at the bottom of the social ladder at school. I have to say that she has The. Worst. Grandma. Ever. Her Grandma only sent her to school because social services made her, she's abusive, neglectful and deals drugs out of her basement. Yeah, she's a real winner. The one bright spot in Hailey's life is little four year old, Chub. She's more of a big sister/mother to him and caring for him and loving him is one of the only things that keeps her sane and grounded. I loved her relationship with Chub and how it was so natural for her to look out for him and take care of him.
Hailey is a good character and her voice is easy to follow, but my favorite character in the story had to be Aunt Prairie. Aunt Prairie is probably The. Coolest. Aunt. Ever. No matter what happened in the story from car chases to being shot she was always undaunted and in control. Her unflappable calm, sense of humor in even the direst circumstances and her unwavering loyalty to Hailey and Chub was refreshing and awesome to read. Even though Hailey is the MC, I really felt like this was Prairie's story of growing up, making mistakes and finding redemption and a way to make things right.
There is plenty of action in this story and that surprised me a little. I was thinking with the special ability of healing that this book would be rather tame, but I was quickly disabused of that notion and I loved the path the story took.
This book was full of action, suspense and yes, even zombies and I enjoyed every minute of it.

My final grade: B+

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