Monday, December 3, 2012

Do Not Read Unless You Love Reading Amazing YA Fantasy--Nightingale, by David Farland


YA Fantasy
320 pages


Bron Jones feels alone, angry, and did I say angry? This is not uncommon for a foster child who has spent his entire life in the system. After being tossed out of his last foster home, Bron has no idea where he will go. After all, people don't readily take in teenagers who have been labeled troublesome. Like many foster children, he feels unlike anyone else, separate, unable to love anyone. The difference here is that though Bron doesn't know it, he is indeed unlike anyone--he is even a different species!

Olivia, a beautiful, young teacher, has been asking social services about taking Bron in. When she sees him, she is convinced he is what her people call a nightingale, a child put into the foster system on purpose. She knows bringing the teen into her life could save Bron, but would immediately put them both--and her husband, Mike, who doesn't know a thing about what she is or the powers she possesses--in perpetual danger. Yet, her tender heart won't allow her to abandon a hurting boy, even if it means saving herself. A far-reaching network of deadly enemies with practically unlimited resources will stop at nothing to find her or a treasure like Bron. 

In fact, they have been searching for Bron his whole life. 

***

I have been in a reading funk lately. Time after time, I'll pick up a book and find it doesn't interest me much. I have been waiting for something that grips me and won't let me put it down, something like I'd find from the likes of Suzanne Collins, James Dashner, Dan Wells, or Brandon Sanderson. I don't have time for mediocre reads anymore. Anyone who knows me will be shocked by what I'm about to admit: I have been so unimpressed and disillusioned by what I've read lately that I took piles of books back to the library without even cracking their covers. That, my friends, is a very bad sign. I needed a book to heal my literarily depressed spirits. (Yes, literarily is now a word.)

Finally, I decided I'd better get to reading Nightingale, since I had agreed to review it.

Oh, my goodness! 

This book should come with a warning: "Readers may experience lack of oxygen and a reduction in the amount of sleep obtained." I had to keep reminding myself to breathe, and all I could think about when I wasn't reading was what would happen in the story. I was sucked in so hard that I was plastered against the pages, unable to do anything except be taken on the thrill ride that is David Farland's imagination. Ah, thrill ride isn't the right term. It's more like surfboarding down an erupting volcano while enjoying the scenery.

David Farland is an amazing storyteller. From the start to the finish, I was enthralled. The story never slowed. Even though the main character is a teen with deep-rooted anger, his character was so well developed that everything made sense. Farland wove in backstory and included tidbits of things that left me wanting more and more. In many books, the sections between the action drags. Not so in this story. Farland masterfully explored his characters and added a richness to them I have not seen in many books, and all this in only 320 pages. 

This book has also been tightly edited, which I highly appreciated. I only found a few typos. I do have one piece of advice regarding a single use of the term "neck" which means in modern language, "make out." I didn't know what this term meant when I was a teen, and neither did my friends (and we are all in our thirties now, so that was around twenty years ago). So, overall it was very insignificant, but something that should be kept in mind when writing for today's teens. Though I'm guessing "making out" is still the term, someone should check--who knows what they call it now! 

There were two things I wondered about. One was a scene in the field with Bron and Mike, involving something they discovered. Because of the attention paid to it, I expected the situation to be resolved somewhere in the rest of the story, and it wasn't. There is a good chance I was reading more into the scene than I should have, however, my husband had the same thoughts about it that I did. The second thing was at the end (which is amazing, and I nearly passed out from forgetting to breathe). Without giving anything away, there is a spot where something happens suddenly, and I felt like it was too sudden. I was left saying, "What the heck?" and tried to reconcile the way it happened from what I had learned about the character from the rest of the book. I do think the information was there, but I probably wasn't supposed to know any more than I did at that time. Any great book starting a series has unanswered questions, so I hope the reasoning for the abruptness will be explained in the following book. Even with those questions, this is still one of the most interesting and fascinating books I have ever read, and I highly recommend it.

This review is turning into a book in itself, but I can't end it without saying how in awe I am of Farland's abilities and attention to detail. He adds little touches that make you wonder if he has experienced all of these things himself. I love when an author brings the senses into a scene, and Farland does this expertly--a bit here and there, never too much or too little. My favorite descriptions in the whole book are set in a swamp. If I didn't know any better, I'd think the author grew up there. The richness and texture of his descriptions in those scenes are reason alone to read this book.

I can't wait to read the next book in the series. As a result of this review, my husband has also been hooked on David Farland's books, and knowing the sheer volume of how many are out there (he also writes science fiction under the name Dave Wolverton), I may never see James again!

Nightingale is the first novel I have ever read by David Farland, and it will definitely not be my last. I have been receiving David's writing tips newsletter for over a year now, and I am so surprised and happy to see that not only does he practice what he preaches, but he is extremely good at it! If this book is any indication, I believe the next great YA author has been launched onto the scene, and with more books of this caliber,I expect to see his fame with YA fans explode over the next few years. 

Buy Nightingale here: Kindle Amazon 
                                   Nook Barnes and Noble 
                                   hardcover Amazon   
                                   enhanced version for iPad (looks way cool) iTunes

Book website, including links to purchase books and music: http://www.nightingalenovel.com/

Visit David Farland's website: http://www.davidfarland.com/