Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Iris Brave by Ali B.

Iris Brave
Author:  Ali B.
Publisher:  New Shelves Publishing Services
Pages: 184
Release Date: August 6th, 2013
Source: Received from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Iris Brave isn't as courageous as her name suggests. That's about to change. Iris doesn't take risks. Heights make her dizzy and she prefers to swim in the shallow end... with nose plugs. On a summer visit to her grandpa's farm, a mysterious stranger shadows Iris, leaving her cryptic messages. When this outsider turns out be a phantom from her family's past, Iris sheds her timid ways to uncover the truth and protect the family she loves. Along the way Iris discovers family secrets and enigmatic figures that lead her to question everything she's ever thought was real.

When I got the chance to review this book, the concept seemed pretty interesting. I've read my share of novels, but the Soul Jumping concept is still pretty unique. While the writing is young,  I did enjoy the book overall (Keep in mind, some YA books easily appeal to adults, this one would appeal in the Middle School market, so the writing may be a little simplistic to some readers). Length was something that was personally a bit short, but again, that fits the market. A combined edition with several books would probably help this appeal to older readers, that way the abrupt ending doesn't feel as sudden. Younger readers may find the length more manageable though. 

Migrating back to the actual story...this book follows Iris, who is visiting her grandpa when a guy in a hoodie starts leaving her messages. At the same time, she is starting to learn bits and pieces about her families past. While the pacing is nice in these sections, and I like the way things unravel, there were a few points where facts seemed to be thrown in a little too abruptly. Some of that is just context editing (a transition needed here, some dialog smoothing there), so it's hard to tell if later editions of this book would fix those problems. There were also some typos along the way, the most noticeable being missing quotation marks and a characters name being misspelled, but some of those things are typical for review copies, so they may get fixed in later editions. 

I found Iris likable as a character, although some of the secondary characters felt a little flat, especially towards the end. Hopefully the sequel will build on some of those things though, so I'm waiting to see what will happen. I liked Iris' family overall, and the pacing of the novel. The only real complaint I probably had was Iris' age made a few things feel a little questionable. I didn't feel like enough adults really questioned her traveling alone at times, and there were a few points things were said in narration that also didn't seem to match up with her character. (I don't know many kids who would identify a gap between someone's teeth as a result of refusing to wear a retainer after braces. Since the narration is so personal to the character, small things like that detracted from the story).

It is hard to give much feedback on this book because it's so short. By the time we get to the end, a lot of questions haven't quite been answered, but it is a good launching point for the next novel. I enjoyed what I've seen so far, but a bit of my commentary will probably be reserved for book two. If you have any younger readers around though, this may be one to keep in mind. 

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