Title: Arcadia’s Gift
Series: Arcadia Trilogy #1
Author: Jesi Lea Ryan
Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy
Synopsis: Most people who experience death don’t live to tell about it.
When sixteen year old Arcadia “Cady” Day wakes in a hospital after experiencing what can only be called a psychic episode, she finds her family in tatters. With her twin sister gone, her dad moved out, her mom’s spiraling depression and her sister’s boyfriend, Cane, barely able to look at her, the only bright spot in her life is Bryan Sullivan, the new guy in school. When Bryan’s around, Cady can almost pretend she’s a regular girl, living a regular life; when he’s not, she’s wracked with wild, inexplicable mood swings. As her home life crumbles and her emotional control slips away, Cady begins to suspect that her first psychic episode was just the beginning… (Goodreads)
This was a relatively short read with a lot more depth than I thought it would have. It really shows the grief of a family over Lony (Cady’s twin), and the different ways they deal with it. Whether they compartmentalise it and lock it up so they don’t feel it, or they sink into sadness and anger. I found that the dynamics of this were very well-written, and it shows that the healing process is something that someone can just speed up or fix right away. This is really what made the book for me.
The characters were another good point of this story. They don’t fit into the typical roles of the high school story, they’re not flat stock characters where the cheerleader is the mean one or the jocks are complete jerks. Lony is a popular and fashion-forward cheerleader and she does try to advise Cady on fashion, but apologises when she knows she’s pushed a bit too much. It is actually Cady who tries to pigeonhole her and her sister into the brainy one and the stylish one (respectively), and so one of the messages of the story could be about having preconceived notions about people.
However, I think it was the pacing of the story and the progress of Cady’s “gift” that kind of put me off this story. The book tended to drag at some parts. I felt that the addition of another character (not mentioned for fear of spoilers) felt like a means to speed up the story but it felt more like a cop out. Some of the changes at the end of the book also seemed unnecessary and maybe put it a bit over the top. This book felt like the setting-up book to the series, but I don’t think I’ll continue the series.
Overall: This book gets three out of five stars for the good character-writing, and the family dynamics. The pacing was awkward and some parts just seemed over the top or unnecessary. Not a bad story, but it doesn’t interest me in the rest of the trilogy.