Friday, November 17, 2017

A Book Review of The Girl Who Could See by Kara Swanson

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All her life Fern has been told she is blind to reality—but, what if she is the only one who can truly see?

Fern Johnson is crazy. At least, that's what the doctors have claimed since her childhood. Now nineteen, and one step away from a psych ward, Fern struggles to survive in bustling Los Angeles. Desperate to appear normal, she represses the young man flickering at the edge of her awareness—a blond warrior only she can see.

Tristan was Fern's childhood imaginary hero, saving her from monsters under her bed and outside her walls. As she grew up and his secret world continued to bleed into hers, however, it only caused catastrophe. But, when the city is rocked by the unexplainable, Fern is forced to consider the possibility that this young man is not a hallucination after all—and that the creature who decimated his world may be coming for hers.

Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (June 1, 2017)
Page Count: 200 pages

I connected with Kara a while back when I interviewed her for my So Your Character is From Papua New Guinea ... post then at Realm Makers I got to see her in person and acquire a copy of her debut novella! Now I've finally gotten to reading it! I mean with a cover like that I had to give it a shot.

The Plot: The story was very forward moving and motivated. I didn't feel like it dragged at any point, though the book does start with the present and then goes back to the past and I did get a little confused regarding the connecting point of the two time periods. It's difficult to juggle two timelines. I liked that it was a big picture plot that affected not just Fern personally, but the world as well.

The Characters: Fern was an interesting main character. It was intriguing being in the point of view of a character who believed she had psychosis. I also really liked her mysterious backstory. That definitely propelled me forward. Swanson did a good job of adding lots of little clues before her Fern's past is finally revealed.

Tristan was an intriguing character as well. I like that he uses flails as opposed to swords. Not that I have anything against swords, but it was cool to see a different weapon used, though a brutal one at that. I was a little unsure about him at first, but he slowly grew on me.

I liked the side characters as well like Barstow and Elinore, though their development paled compared to Fern and Tristan's so I feel like I didn't get to know them as intimately.

The Setting: The book is set in San Francisco. I feel like it served its purpose, but I didn't find it an especially fascinating setting. I was more interested in the other world setting, but spoilers sweety.

Epic Things: I like the concept of an imaginary friend being real. I had an imaginary friend as a kid named Millie, so I'm always curious with imaginary friend stories. I also really like cross-dimensional stories. They always catch my interest.

The Theme: Clarity is definitely a big theme. Fern battles what is true and what people are telling her is true so she has to discern her own reality.

Content Cautions: No swearing or sexual content besides a kiss. There is a little gore when a character is wounded and near the end when some people cough up blood, but nothing terribly disturbing.

What We Can Take Away For Our Writing:

1.) Defining Speaking No One Else Can Hear -
 Tristan can only be heard by Fern, so Swanson defines his speak as follows:  This helped differentiate his speech from Fern's thoughts and also confirmed that only she could hear him.

How this can be applied to writing: When you have a situation such as mindreading, finding a symbol or a font or the like is a great tool to differentiate the dialogue from others'.

Conclusion: I enjoyed the book. It was a creative and intriguing read.

About the Author:
As the daughter of missionaries, Kara Swanson spent sixteen years of her young life in the jungles of Papua New Guinea. Able to relate with characters dropped suddenly into a unique new world, she quickly fell in love with the speculative genre and was soon penning stories herself.

At seventeen, she independently published a fantasy novel, Pearl of Merlydia. Her short story “Distant as the Horizon” is included in Kathy Ide’s 21 Days of Joy: Stories that Celebrate Mom. She has published many articles, including one in the Encounter magazine. Kara received the Mount Hermon Most Promising Teen Writer Award in 2015.

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