Meridian (Fenestra, #1)
by Amber Kizer
Sixteen-year-old Meridian has always been surrounded by death. As a child, insects, mice, and salamanders burrowed into her bedclothes to die. As she grew, the animals got bigger, and soon they were finding her at school to die in her presence. Meridian became an outcast, labeled by her classmates as Reaper, Gravedigger, and Witch. Each death she witnesses weakens her body, and loneliness weakens her spirit. On her sixteenth birthday, she witnesses a deadly car crash. Though she’s untouched, Meridian's body explodes with the victims’ pain.
Before she can fully recover, Meridian is told that she's a danger to her family and rushed to her great-aunt's house in Revelation, Colorado. It's there that she learns the secret her mother has been hiding her entire life: that she is a Fenestra, the half-angel, half-human link between the living and the dead. It's crucial that she learn how to transition human souls to the afterlife and preserve the balance between good and evil on earth. But Meridian and her sworn protector and love, Tens, face great danger from the Aternocti, a band of dark forces who capture vulnerable souls on the brink of death and cause chaos.
I have been wanting to read this book for awhile because it has one of my absolute favorite opening sections ever (which I did read. A few times. But never the whole book), but I was saving it to read with my book club, since I knew it was on the schedule. We finally read it for last month's meeting, so now I can share it with you for Helluva Halloween.
I want to start by saying that all in all, I would recommend this, I did like it, but.
But I felt like it let me down a little. Maybe it was because I loved the prologue so much. Maybe it was because I had been building it up in my head for months and months. And it's never that it was really bad, don't get me wrong. But though I liked it as a whole, there were a few things I couldn't get past.
Here's the breakdown:
Meridian had an original feel. It was interesting, because I think it did follow a formula we're all familiar with in YA. There was a predictability, so much so that there were things you could see coming through the entire book, and you begin to wonder why none of the characters see it. The villain is so obvious the entire time that it becomes one of those irritating things that makes you say: how do you not see this? That's a little frustrating. (The good guys were really obvious, too, and you can always tell who's going to be coming back into the story to save the day.) But in spite of this, there is still a feeling of freshness about the work. Kizer's Fenestra mythology is interesting and new, and the issues that it raises and is bound to cause for Meridian add noticeably to the story. The religious zealotry in the story, though admittedly over the top, was also an interesting aspect. At least for me, as there's little that freaks me out more than religious zealotry.
And even though the bad guys and good guys may as well come with big declarative flags over their heads, they're still interesting. I genuinely liked Meridian, Auntie and Tens (especially Tens), and wanted more of their backstories (again, especially Tens). I thought some good groundwork was laid for the future of the series with the little snippets of information that we did get, but at the same time, it was frustrating. Don't just give me good groundwork for future books -- give me a good book now. Make me want to read your future books on the writing alone, not a hook, or a plot line I want to see finished.
Which brings me to the most irritating part of the book (other than the obviousness that wasn't obvious to anyone) -- the ending. I've said it before, I'll say it again, I am not a fan of deus ex machina. At all. The end of this was a disappointment for me on a few levels. It was just all too convenient, every last detail. And so, so quick. Blink and you missed it. I want some meat to it. What happened? Break it down, drag it out a bit, give me something to chew on and savor. This was the biggest point of contention for my book club, actually. I think we all felt a little cheated, like we'd been given the brush off.
But in spite of this, most of us still said we liked the book - me more so than many. (Two haaated it) It was engaging, and what wasn't fulfilling I could supplement with my own imagination. (<-- I don't think a book should make you do that, but at least it means there was something there to work with.) And like I said, it managed to somehow be fresh, and there were some issues raised that I hope to see (and should certainly be) in book 2. It felt like Kizer has yet to hit her stride, but that when she does she'll be an author to watch.