April 4, 2013

Review: 17 & Gone

By: Nova Ren Suma
Published: March 2013 by Dutton Juvenile
Format: Hardback, 354 pages
Buy: Barnes & Noble//Books-A-Million//Amazon//Book Depository
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Their ends are endless, their stories unknown. These girls are lost, and I'm the only one who sees them.

Seventeen-year-old Lauren is having visions of girls who have gone missing. And all these girls have just one thing in common—they are 17 and gone without a trace. As Lauren struggles to shake these waking nightmares, impossible questions demand urgent answers: Why are the girls speaking to Lauren? How can she help them? And… is she next? As Lauren searches for clues, everything begins to unravel, and when a brush with death lands her in the hospital, a shocking truth emerges, changing everything.

With complexity and richness, Nova Ren Suma serves up a beautiful, visual, fresh interpretation of what it means to be lost.

Rating: 5/5

Holy. Nova Ren Suma, you fucking genius you. Sorry, language censor is down for a bit because I just read a work of brilliance and I'm just in that mode of, Did I really fucking read something so fucking amaze? And yes. Yes, I did.

Let's get one thing straight, right off the bat. I love Nova Ren Suma. I've read her two latest YA's (this and Imaginary Girls) and I'm thoroughly convinced she's one of my top five favorite authors ever. If not in the top three. Yes, top three. Screw the top five. The woman just wrote a book with so little dialogue--dialogue that would probably make up ten pages, if that--that had me so engrossed to the point where my nose is touching the book. She created a narrator who I fell in love with from the get go, who I cared about, and whose mind became my mind.

Suma's writing is, quite frankly, gorgeous. It is just gorgeous. I feel like she could write about the alphabet or the lone rubberband that's sitting off to the side of my computer, and I would drop dead with her beautiful descriptions and characterization. Yes, of a letter or a rubberband. Because she is that good. Here, a paragraph from the opening chapter for those of you who have either A) Never read Suma, B) Don't know if you want to, or C) Just like reading parts of Suma's work at random because you love her as much as I (I picked this one to avoid having to pick and choose a favorite from the middle of the book because this was easier, okay):

Another girl could go today. She could be pulling her scarf tight around her face to protect it from the cold, searching through her coat pockets for her car keys so they're out and ready when she reaches her car in the dark lot. She could glance in through the bright, blazing windows of the nearest restaurant as she hurries past. And then when she's out of sight the shadowy hands could grab her, the sidewalk could gulp her up. They only trace of the girl would be the stripped wool scarf she dropped on the patch of black ice, and when a car comes and runs it over, dragging it away on its snow tires, there isn't even that.
I could be wrong.
Say I'm wrong.
Say there aren't any hands.

Do you see that description, man? Do you see it? Don't tell me you don't already have a tone set for this. I know you do. This book threw me into a sort of state I've rarely been in. Really, I don't think I ever have this deeply with any other book before.

The world...it was such a dream-like world. I felt as if I were floating around in a haze the entire time. Even the snow in my mind looked off, the world surrounding Lauren, too. The memory of it still gives me chills, even more so now that I know what happens. It makes me want to go back and reread, dig for all the signs, see the foreshadowing.

But the plot itself. I'm blown away by its complexity and execution. It had me mesmerized from the get-go. There are few books I have stayed up through the wee hours of the morning to read, and this was one of them. I got halfway through, saw that the clock read after midnight and I said to myself, That's all right, just one more chapter. Thirty-something chapters later, I was closing the book, it was after two in the morning, and I was stuck in Lauren's mind, running over every little detail that happened with the girls and with Lauren, with my heart skipping beats from all the feels it had.

At one point in the book, I began to figure out what was going on and I thought to myself, How did you make this so realistic? Suma clearly did her research and the reality of this story twisted, twisted, twisted my stomach. Even after a dreamless night after reading, I still feel for Lauren, wonder where she's going to go, wonder how life is going to turn out for her. Like Imaginary Girls, this will be one I'll have to reread again in the future. And I have a feeling it'll terrify me even more.

It's hard to say much without giving anything away. I wanted to be as vague as possible because, really, you should read this without any expectations, other than the fact that Suma is goddamn god. And if you still aren't convinced, go to your local bookstore, pick up a copy, and read the first chapter. Your feet will have carried you to the checkout before you even reached the end of Chapter 1. Guarantee it.

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