Saturday, August 27, 2011

Review: Hunting Lila by Sarah Alderson

Hunting Lila by Sarah Alderson

Pages: 320
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Published: September 1st, 2011
IBSN: 9780857071958

17-year-old Lila has two secrets she's prepared to take to the grave. The first is that she can move things just by looking at them. The second is that she's been in love with her brother's best friend, Alex, since forever.

After a mugging on the streets of South London goes horribly wrong and exposes her unique ability, Lila decides to run to the only people she can trust - her brother and Alex. They live in Southern California where they work for a secret organisation called The Unit, and Lila discovers that the two of them are hunting down the men who murdered her mother five years before. And that they've found them. Trying to uncover the truth of why her mother was killed, and the real remit of The Unit, Lila becomes a pawn in a dangerous game. Struggling to keep her secrets in a world where nothing and no one is quite as they seem, Lila quickly realises that she is not alone - there are others out there just like her - people with special powers -and her mother's killer is one of them...

Lila has two big secrets: she can move things with her mind, and she's in love with her brother's best friend Alex. After her mother's death, she was separated from Alex and her brother, and now they're about to be together again. But their happy reunion is cut short when both of her secrets are put at risk.

Sarah Alderson's debut combines compelling action, realistic romance, thorough characterisation, enticing superpowers, and a twisting plot.

Lila was likeable and relateable. She misses her family, she hides the powers that scare her, and has a crush on the unattainable Older Boy. She just had this incredible realness to her, even with decidedly unreal superpowers. She was kind, sweet, had a great sense of humour and all of these things came through her narrative voice.

The way the story unfolded felt realistic. With one first-person narrator, it was almost like real life -- we don't know anything but what we know. As Lila tried to figure out who to trust, we didn't know who to trust either. I got the notion that I was seeing the events through her eyes, not just having her tell me about them. We were as oblivious as she was about the secrets of The Unit and the secrets of her power.

The romance was slowly developed and touching. The tension between Lila and Alex was obvious from the beginning, but they were naturally hesitant about their attraction. A very lovely subplot to the dramatic major plot arc.

With the conclusion came a cliffhanger-that-I-don't-want-to-call-a-cliffhanger-because-when-you-hear-cliffhanger-you-think-of-frustration-and-annoyance, definitely well-executed. It was a realistic denouement to a fight scene, where not all of the good guys get away uninjured. I'm definitely hanging on for the next book in the series!

I give Hunting Lila a 4 out of 5.