is a depressing and sad tale about a girl named Hailey. Hailey never knew her parents and like Harry Potter she isn't allowed to ask questions about them. She is raised by a cruel grandmother who deals drugs for a living. Her grandmother is similar to the vile mother from the film Precious
. She refuses to let Hailey go to school until the social workers take that desicion out of her hands.
Hailey is such an outcast the other losers don't want anything to do with her. The other losers are a group called the Morries who also reside in the bad side of town. The bad side of Gypsum, MO is named Trashtown. Hailey is denied any friends from people who she could have a lot in common with. She does not understand why they fear and loathe her. The question is explained somewhat when a boy who is friendly with her comes to school the next day with a big shiner. He was ordered away from Hailey by the town creep. The town creep is Rattler who I imagined to be like the blokes from the film Winter's Bone
.I casted uncle Teardrop in my mind while I read this book. Her grandmother would not have been out of place in that film. She did get her drug supply from the Ozarks.
Times are tough in Trashtown and everywhere else in Gpysum. This is not a dystopian book but from the ending it's apparent the sequel will be.
The rumours about Rattler are that he attacks the Morrie women. No one is willing to press charges against him. There was more to the story that could have been explored. Hailey's grandmother did not recieve the gift of healing which turned her bitter, but what happened to the rest of the Banished to turn them this way? I don't buy the explanation that they bred with non Banished folk. She meets a boy, Kaz, whose father is not Banished. He still has the sight gift.
Hailey discovers in gym class when a morrie girl is injured that a power is calling her.
The girl Milla doesn't appreciate Hailey's healing ability but is repelled. Frustrated, Hailey finally asks her what is going on. It turns out the folk of Trashtown heiled from Ireland. They were once the Banished. Hailey's family were healers and the Banished men had the gift of seeing into the future. Milla says Hailey is cursed and that the gift is why her grandmother is decaying. Hailey's grandmother is the squib of this world. Hailey, and other healers, never get sick and heal fast. While they excel at sports her grandmother is always sick and weak. This perverted her mind and twisted her. She's desperate to be a healer and has plans for Hailey.
Hailey's only companion is a mentally slow toddler, Chump, her grandmother adopted as a project, and her dog Rascal. Rascal gets hit by a car and unable to lose him Hailey unwittingly turns him into a zombie.
Hailey did not know what she was doing but could she have bared to part with him had she known? I could see myself turning my beloved, Seamus into a zombie rather than lose him. Stephen King's novel Pet Cemetary
is a cautionary tale with good reason. Seamus is bad enough about licking my face. I would bring back all my dead pets if I had that power. I must confess whenever a character is attached to a pet I panic that the pet will die. I inwardly plead for the dog, cat, frog, bird, rat, etc. not to die. A death sentence for the pet is to utter the phrase "I don't know what I'd ever do if I lost _blank_".
I get attached to all fictitious pets as well as real ones. A book can be made or broken by killing a beloved animal character.
When Hailey's aunt comes into the story the book plot is weakened. I felt the story's anchor belonged in Trashtown. Her aunt Prairie foolishly dated a bad guy who wants to use their abilities for a nefarious scheme to turn people into zombies for terrorism.
Hailey, in her stupidest moment of the book, exclaims that the government would never do something like that. Apparently, the big bad small governments across the globe would. I prefer my dystopians with a more compelling villian than a rich businessman or Gabriel from the film Swordfish
which he basically amounted to. Rattler was far more disturbing than Prairie's lame boyfriend. Prairie made many appalling life choices. Why the two villians both want to date her wasn't well done. They are both driven by their desire for her but why
. I didn't think the "I worked with the evil businessman because he was hot" was interesting. He wasn't described as hot when he appeared in the book. I prefer to be shown not told they are hot. Please have their dialogue be sexy or write them in as creepy. Rattler was given several scenes to display just how and why he was icky. The businessman, Bryce, had an immature chapter written entirely in italiac font. She raided his room for a wedding ring and sat next to "my boyfriend". Hailey, a teenager, came off as far more mature than her aunt whose thirty.
Prairie was quite frankly a bit dippy for someone so hard edged.
The big reveal was easy to figure out but that did not bother me. I hate it when the twist is not written in the pages. If Rattler being her father had been dragged out for more books then the twist being obvious would have sucked.