'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Sunday 12 February 2017

Review: Valentine - Connie's YA Book of the Month

'How do you choose what to wear when you're going to die?'
Reading Valentine zooms forward in pace and events until the moment Pearl Winford is faced with this question.

Pearl lives a fairly ordinary life in an Australian town, where nothing ever happens according to her journalist sister, Disey. Pearl is in Year 11, she's smart, sensible, has an awesome best friend, has a wild crush on a guy at school and loves music and singing.

Pearl also shares a Valentine's Day birthday with three other teens at school ... and that's where the trouble begins.

Everything becomes dangerous when the black horse arrives at Tilly's party at the stables and Pearl gets mixed up with the beautiful Finn Blacklin, the boy who has annoyed her since they were kids. Then the murder and mystery begin and Pearl discovers that the Unseelie fairies have been sent to kill her thinking she's the fairy Valentine  changeling, swapped at birth. If they discover she's not, they will kill her anyway.

Will the Unseelie fairies kill all the Valentine's kids until they find the changeling? Pearl has to outsmart the Unseelie to survive and she can only do this with Finn's help – and somehow control their sizzling chemistry. She doesn't know if she can trust him but has to do everything she can to avoid more deaths in what becomes a frightened town. Then someone else goes missing and Pearl's world is turned upside down.

Valentine is fast paced and witty, at times confronting and sad, sprinkled with suspense, a touch of gory, and endearing characters. Fans of paranormal tales with a twist will enjoy this book and teens will appreciate the sassy, snappy dialogue and the protagonist's constant interiority. Pearl is an engaging, strong, brave female. There's also plenty of modern popular culture, social media references and paranormal powers and twists to keep this read current and relatable.

The chemistry between Finn and Pearl simmers along and is the strength of the book, as is the desire to solve who is good and evil and who can be trusted. Although a little light on backstory into the Seelie world, hopefully this will be divulged in the sequel.

This is Jodi McAlister's first book in this series. Looking forward to the next instalment and another impressive cover.

Title: Valentine
Author: Jodi McAlister
Publisher: Penguin, $15.99
Publication Date: 30 January 2017
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780143574163
For ages: 13+
Type: Young Adult Fiction