Saturday, June 6, 2015

Random --by Alma Alexander

Fiction / Fantasy  

254 pages / 475 KB
5 Stars            

I had a hard time putting it down. Yes, it's YA, but it is suitable for any adults who enjoy a good fantasy about Weres. It's not filled with teen angst, or lust, or horny were-wolves, it's about a family of Randoms.

Like all weres, Randoms change with the full moon, usually starting about age 15, but they don't necessarily become true within a family. The first time they change, they change on the last warm- blooded animal they see as they change. Jazz's father is a cat, her mother a chicken. Jazz's sister, Celia was a cat, and Jazz? Well, she's a surprise. A true Random. A Wild Card in the mix.

Celia and Mal were youngsters when their family is forced to leave the Old Country and come to the New Country. As Shape-shifters, they were forced into being second class citizens, they were ostracized and during the three days of the full moon cycle, they were locked away, either in Turning Houses or in state approved rooms in their own homes where they turned from human to whatever.

Celia, the oldest child, spoke with an accent, and was quiet, intelligent, and gangly. She was bullied, not only by her peers, but by her teachers. The bullying and resulting emotional upheaval forced her to change, in public, in full view of everyone, which made the bullying worse. She dies before graduation, forced into it by one of her teachers.

Mal, younger, becomes angry and sullen, and Jazz, the baby, born in the New Country, is pulled out of school, and taught at home. She is protected from everyone. Her parents guard her, determined she will not be taken from them as Celia was.

Slightly before she changes for the first time, she finds Celia's diaries, and makes some startling discoveries that neither her parents nor her sullen older brother know. When she changes into something impossible, the family is thrown into fits, and it comes out that she knows about the death, and it was not suicide, as her parents thought, but accidental.

This story is a great story about teens who are "different" and coming of age, dealing with that difference, be it skin color, accent, or whatever. It's a good story on the damage that bullying causes, and how many students who are bullied do not report it, and why. And it's not always peers who do the bullying. It's about how people are turned into second class citizens, often with their agreement, though not their approval.

Alma Alexander has written a marvelous story, and frankly, I'm delighted that Wolf, #2 in the series is out, but I'm not gonna be happy when I finish it and have to wait for #3.

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