Sunday, February 27, 2011

Intrinsical by Lani Woodland

Beware: Spoilers for Intrinsical galore in this review. Read at your own risk.

Title: Intrinsical
Author: Lani Woodland
Publisher: Pendrell Publishing
Release Date: August 10, 2010
Pages: 286 pages (hardback)
How I Got the Book: Christmas gift.

Intrinsical (The Yara Silva, #1)Sixteen-year-old Yara Silva has always known that ghosts walk alongside the living. Her grandma, like the other women in her family, is a Waker, someone who can see and communicate with ghosts. Yara grew up watching her grandmother taunted and scorned for this unusual ability and doesn't want that to be her future. She has been dreading the day when she too would see ghosts, and is relieved that the usually dominant Waker gene seems to have skipped her, letting her live a normal teenage live.

However, all that changes for Yara on her first day at her elite boarding school when she discovers the gene was only lying dormant. She witnesses a dark mist attack Brent, a handsome fellow student, and rushes to his rescue. Her act of heroism draws the mist's attention, and the dark spirit begins stalking her. Yara finds herself entrenched in a sixty-year-old curse that haunts the school threatening not only her life, but the lives of her closest friends as well. Yara soon realizes that the past she was trying to put behind her isn't going to go quietly.


Growing up, Yara Silva was always afraid that she would have the same Waker gene that her grandmother did. She never wanted to be made fun of the way her beloved grandmother was when she came for visits from Brazil. It seems like the trait may have passed her by, but then she enrolls at a boarding school and her dormant powers come to life as she saves fellow student Brent from being murdered by a dark mist. Now that dark mist is following her too and with little control over her powers, defeating it and solving the boarding school's old curse won't be easy for Yara.

First off, thank you to the author Lani Woodland for sending me a friend request on Goodreads (which I accepted, of course). That was a lovely gesture. Intrinsical has been on my radar since I ran across it and its lovely cover a few months ago and I was excited to get reading. I found a great debut novels within these pages. The execution was a little flawed, but that did not stop me from having fun on my journey into Yara's world.

Yara and Cherie were both likable girls and I loved reading scenes where the two of them interacted. Between the two, I preferred Cherie and found her to be a little more interesting. I didn't feel like I knew Steve well enough, so I won't say much about him. Brent... Well, let's just say that at the end of the book, I preferred Dallin over Brent. He may be the male lead, but Brent pulled a few tricks that don't fly with me. Something tells me that if Yara's grandmother had been in the book, I would have loved her like I loved Cherie.

The plot moved quickly and the writing style kept up with that pace instead of slowing it down, keeping me reading even when I got annoyed at one thing or another. There were a few turns of phrase that made me wonder if that was really there, but it was otherwise a book with focused, minimal prose--and that's just how I like it. Overly poetic and purple isn't my style. And the whole "main character is dead" thing going on for half the book? I loved that too. That was a good twist and not one you see often in books.

Along with its strong points, the novel had its flaws. As I mentioned above, there were numerous instances where I wondered if someone really wrote that in a book. The villain came off as a little bit cheesy to me, which made taking him seriously a serious task in itself. Some points in the narrative that were confusing (how does someone smile into the right side of their mouth? Something hits Yara and falls, yet it's on top of her head?) and I ran across a plot hole about time-traveling ghosts and how it reversed Yara's death. Explaining it fully would be difficult and I don't want to make this long review even longer. Just take my word that it doesn't make sense. Time: Don't mess with it.

Within the story, the calendar did not match up at all. Something happened to the top student in Yara's grade five days into classes and yet everyone knew who he was and that he was the top student in the grade. I find this highly implausible; at such an early point in the school year, there had to be multiple students with the same grade average and that would tie for top student. Brent also mentioned that he'd been dead for a couple of weeks. Wrong! When I went back and checked how much time passed between his "death" and when he said that, I found that only four to five days passed.

Now then, my biggest complaint about the book: Its editing. My copy of Intrinsical is littered with red marks where I corrected mistakes ranging from missing punctuation to misspelled words. Classmates laughed all week as I read this book  during class and fixed mistakes with my trusty red pen. Reading is supposed to be an escape and this time around, it didn't feel like one. I felt like I was reading someone's draft and not their final product. While I love editing and little would make me happier than to pursue it as a career, I don't want to read a book for pleasure and be reminded of the mistake-riddled article drafts my classmates on the school newspaper give me to edit.
While the story was enjoyable, I was kept from immersing myself in the story by a large plot hole involving time travel, a cheesy villain, and horrible editing that pulled me out of the story each time I wandered past a mistake. I may pick up its sequel Indelible when it comes out in September 2011 and I may not. We'll see how I feel when the time comes.

3 stars!

What am I reading next?: The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong