386 pages, Paperback
Themes: bullying, super powers, struggling to survive, family secrets, betrayal, surviving school, finding out who you are, honing skills, spying, incredible buildings, people's souls, vampires, unicorns, fairies (of sorts), dynamics of step-families, step-sibling bonds, teen romance, a fair amount of graphic violence, occasional swearing
Book summary (from part of the press release data)
Seventeen-year old Alexander Eden lives the life that every teenager dreads. A geeky high school pariah with zero social status, a walking target for bullies with a step-brother who beats him at everything, Alex’s existence is a painful, unending thread of misery and humiliation. So when the mysterious, breathtakingly beautiful Gabriella de Luca moves into town, Alex doesn’t even bother trying to talk to her. Everyone wants to know her; boys want to date her; girls want to be her. How could Alex compete? Yet even surrounded by her cloud of admirers Gabriella doesn’t seem to notice them. Instead her eyes lock straight on Alex. In that one searing moment Alex is drawn to Gabriella with a forcefulness he can neither comprehend nor fight, and as her gaze bores into his soul he feels his body coursing with strange electric shocks.
That night the nightmares begin; a macabre repetitive nocturne in which a masked figure stalks him, with each dream more terrifying than the last. After three days locked in a haze of strange visions Alex wakes in a local park with no recollection of where he’s been or how he got there. Disoriented and alone, he stumbles out to the road, raising his head just in time to see the speeding car that smashes into him. But as glass rains around him he hears not the sound of breaking bones, but of tearing metal as the bonnet cleaves into a twisted heap around his body. Alex has been awakened.
*smiles* I really like this book. Incredibly, even though the protag is male I loved reading about his adventures. I paid more attention to Gabriella, who rides a motorbike (something I can only dream about as I have zero sense of balance & love my car), who is fast, skilled in fighting and very strong. Oh and with a dark past that Alex manages to pry out of her. Well, he does look out for her even when she's looking out for him. He hides some things from her which make her fume, but mostly he shares everything. They have a special bond and get the most awesome weapons and fight scenes. I was crying a lot near the end, both sad and happy tears. There's so much action - some was so gross my usual nausea got worse but with all the excitement I wasn't that bothered.
I do have a few areas I wasn't keen on. The page with all the recommendations didn't have any sources quoted, which was a bit odd. Sometimes I got a bit bored with the descriptions, especially when some history is explained. There were some stylistic/formatting errors which stuck out because the rest of the book is so addictive. But the awesome parts balance the book out, which is why it deserves 9/10.
You can find out more on Stuart's website.
For addictive reading with a female protagonist check out The Demon Trappers series by Jana Oliver which starts with Forbidden