Title: The Blessed
Author: Tonya Hurley
Release Date: Available
Quick! Name any YA books with any overtly religious themes in 30 seconds! Okay, so I’m guessing you didn’t name very many. Most YA books don’t use religion as a main theme, or even address it in a significant way. This is probably due to the amount of controversy attached to writing about religion because writing itself carries a point of view and people do not always agree with those views. This is multiplied exponentially when you consider the fact that us adolescents are often seen as “impressionable” and parents might consider this book unacceptable to read for any number of reasons. No matter. This book is worth incurring their ire because it is simply phenomenal.
The book revolves around four main protagonists but it is occasionally narrated from other perspectives. The three girls, Agnes, Lucy and Cecelia, have no connection until they all end up in the hospital on the same night for radically different reasons. They are all eventually released, all with similar bracelets, given to them by a strange boy known as Sebastian. After being released from the hospital, they go about their lives until one night, when a storm of biblical proportions hits the city and they are all inexplicably drawn to a defunct cathedral. The storm effectively traps them in for three days and that three days changes everything those three girls know: who to trust, who they are and what is even real.
These characters are strong and decisive. I know that has become somewhat of a trope but it really works with this book partially because it shows the nitty-gritty of independence. Bad choices are a part of that and this book does not hesitate to demonstrate that. The characters, primary and secondary, also have many secrets about them and as these are revealed one after another you will be left impatient for the sequel.
I feel that this book is definitely worth reading. It does not confront faith as something to shy away from nor as something to embrace zealously. Think of it as Christian fantasy, a good story that uses faith as a powerful narrative device. Combine that with first-rate characters, scheming powers that be, and a harrowing plot and you have a book that has bestseller written all over it, in big gothic letters.
Review by Jake
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