I’m thrilled to introduce to everyone a new guest poster! I have converted another of my book loving friends/family to writing posts for me, mwahaha!! Better yet, Stochastic read and wrote a review of Destiny Binds, so now you get a whole new perspective on this awesome book!
Stochastic: Those of us who collect eclectic, pithy first sentences will just love this one: “John Davis smells like Play-Doh”. Ya gotta love it. It’s nice to laugh out load at the first sentence of a new book. This first sentence promises an interesting and engaging writing style, and with her first novel, new author Tammy Blackwell makes good on the promise. This must be why I so enjoyed the first third of the book, as I am neither a nascent young female adult, nor filled with angst over hot guys. I enjoyed the rest of the book, too, but for very different reasons.
Goodreads | Amazon
Title: Destiny Binds
Author: Tammy Blackwell
Pages: 222 (Kindle)
Genre-ish: Young-adult urban fantasy (perhaps “rural fantasy” is more fitting)
Rating: ★★★★☆- Compelling, a couple of warnings
Setting: Rural high-school and adjacent small towns and woods. The protagonist is wholly unaware of the supernatural nature of her universe.
Premise: Scout Donovan is high-school girl in her senior year — granted, an interesting girl, but relegated to the losers’ table at lunch — with a popular but overprotective brother (Jase), a precocious little sister (Angel), and a beautiful but overweight best friend (Tally). Alex Cole is the hot new guy, deemed off-limits to Scout by her brother and his best friend and cousin (Charlie). As Scout tries desperately to convince herself that she is in love with neither Alex nor Charlie, we have the makings of a lovers’ triangle, and the first third of the Destiny Binds reads much like a high-school girl’s diary, which I understand is pretty typical for the genre. For the first third of the book, there is no hint of the supernatural stuff implicit in the book’s title. All the while, author Blackwell is setting-up dominoes in a spectacular pattern. She does this in a subtle way, concealing aspects of her protagonist: she is, in fact, sharper and more dynamic than your average teenager, as is her little sister. In fact, none of the characters are who they at first seem to be. Moreover, readers will discover certain schemes only after they reach fruition, and sometimes well afterward. The first domino falls almost exactly a third of the way into the book, when the story begins to gradually transform from a diary to a love story and a gripping urban fantasy.
- Tammy Blackwell writes in an engaging and dryly amusing style. This may be her first novel, but Blackwell must be a seasoned writer.
- The character development is fantastic. Each of Jase, Charles, Tally, and Alex are shown, by slow turns, to be in no way at all whom they at first appeared to be. Even the annoying little sister isn’t who you think she is. Neither is Scout, and for her part, she is forced to adapt to each startling revelation.
- Your brain will be sharply tweaked by the wholly-unexpected climax and conclusion of Destiny Binds.
- For the first third of the book, characters appear to react more than they act, with the result that the book feels more like a diary than a story. This is more a weakness of the genre, to which authors of young-adult fiction must apparently adhere in order to sell their books to young adults. So it must be forgiven -especially in light of later revelations of hidden motives, actions, and dynamics of which Blackwell initially, and carefully, no more than hints.
- Destiny Binds’ angsty teenage lovers’ triangle, with two hot guys and a young, confused female protagonist, is a templated theme that’s felt hackneyed ever since Twilight — although, to my enduring horror, I love it. So do many angsty high school girls, I’m sure, which must explain why the template continues to be successful.
I keep finding myself defending authors of what are essentially young-adult romances. Or rather, urban fantasy with young-adult-romance themes. In undertaking such a book, Blackwell must write to her target audience. As a new author, it is especially important for Blackwell to demonstrate that she knows how to write within the constraints of her genre. Blackwell clearly understands how to do this. With Destiny Binds, she has written a solid love story and fantasy, and wrapped it in trappings that will appeal to young adults. And to people like me, who are a little embarrassed to like such stories.
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