Book Review: Natasha Brown’s The Fledgling

Phyl CampbellStarred Page By Phyl Campbell, 12th Aug 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/249r-n1i/
Posted in Wikinut>Reviews>Books>Science Fiction & Fantasy

A girl with a heart condition meets a boy with supernatural powers. What will happen next?

Disclaimer

I received a free electronic ARC of Natasha Brown's The Fledgling in exchange for an honest and fair review. Mrs. Brown and I are mutual FB friends of another author who posted that her friend was looking for reviews. I emailed Mrs. Brown asking for a review exchange, but was turned down. I still intend to give a fair and honest review, as I would any other review I sit down to craft. But I post all this in open frankness so that any following recriminations fall in the appropriate rubbish heaps.

Comparison with Twilight

Before offering to read and review The Fledgling, I read several comments already posted on Amazon and Goodreads. While many gushed over the sensational story, I was drawn to the critics who said it was too much like The Twilight Saga. Unlike some, however, I liked Twilight, so comparison to that alone would not sway me away from this book.

I do understand the basic comparison:

Creepy but gorgeous other-worldly teenage boy feeling a distinct need to protect fragile girl though he’s never shown an interest in girls before

Similar geography of the Pacific Northwest

Boy is descended from Native American tribe – relates to story being in the Pacific Northwest, but also to Jacob, the shapeshifter and love triangle of The Twilight Saga, not the shiny vampire (All werewolves are shapeshifters, but not all shapeshifters are werewolves, if you catch my meaning.)

In short, these critics have well-founded concerns that this Paranormal Romance for YA reads like a (shockers) Paranormal Romance for YA.

The author mentions having made a similar move for her own daughter’s health, so the moving connection to Twilight fan fiction is as coincidental as it is possible.

That said, unlike Bella, who is simply clumsy, Ana has a heart condition she does not want her new schoolmates to know about. Personally, I wanted to laugh at this – having to go up and down stairs to classes, one would be able to tell that Ana had health issues pretty quickly. On the other hand, many teens are self-absorbed to the point of not noticing major things, so this plot point works in its own way.

Minor Characters

Like Bella, school friends and even family drop away to make room in the story for paranormal romance. Though Stephenie Meyer may have fleshed out more and better complementary characters – at one point I forgot that Ben had been introduced as Chance’s father. I thought it was strange that Chance would be asking about the absence of Eva’s dad when his own was absent, too. Ben is one example of a face in the crowd – a minor character of no importance. At another point, at graduation, Ana thanks her friend Laura for help with a math class. But there is no previous suggestion that the two studied together or what kind of help was provided. This happens in fiction. And most readers won’t be invested in Laura’s or Ben’s backstory unless it will be important to the plot later.

Supporting Characters

Supporting characters were fleshed out better than minor characters.

Ana’s mother is seen as hard-working and tired and stressed out, but loving and fiercely protective of her children. When bags under her eyes are mentioned early on, I was afraid Ana was going to turn out all right and her mother was going to collapse and die. Would I have thought that was if I hadn’t been trying to look for similarities and differences to Twilight? I can’t honestly say.

Ana’s sister Eva is younger, loves her sister, and discovers a love of cooking from her babysitting aunt which gives her more breadth and depth than she would have had alone. The author does a passing job of making sure that the sisters share bonds and connections, but this could have been better. The sisters don’t appear to share any secrets that their mother isn’t aware of, for one, and there are scarcely more than a few lines of dialogue between the two here and there – more time is spent making sure the younger sister has a babysitter of a way home from school than they actually spend time talking. Perhaps this could be linked to the medical issue, but if I needed to suggest improvements, this is an area where I would.

Chance’s grandfather Niyol is presented with much more detail than Chance’s parents. But there were enough holes and secrets in his backstory that I wondered if he was as good as he let Chance believe. His presumed death does not negate that nagging feeling. And Chance doesn’t share his shape-shifting experiences with his parents. I found this the most implausible. An only child, with two parents in the home, hiding a secret this big? Among other things, how does he explain all the missing/destroyed clothes? Teens might be self-absorbed and clueless, but for parents to be this clueless was a bit of a stretch for me.

Climax and Ending

So we know that the female lead has a bad heart and a supernatural boyfriend. So of course the boyfriend is going to fix the heart. We just don’t know the exact process or procedure the author will use to get us to that point. There is a character that comes out of nowhere and knows entirely too much about Ana that better foreshadowing would have helped.

That said, the author did a good job presenting the paranormal parameters Chance had and a better job of using them for the fight sequence. While there weren’t a lot of surprises, the author did a good job of following the genre formula and tying up the loose ends of this book while allowing other bits to dangle, presumably in order to fill the trilogy she has already penned and published.

Recommendation

If I had a dewey-eyed fourth grader, I would have no problem allowing that youngster to read this book. The romance is limited to kissing and embarrassment over seeing the shapeshifter nude between forms – the nudity is acknowledged but not explored in any sexual way. There is definitely an audience for this type of book and I do believe it is different enough from other books in the genre to merit its own read. That said, I’m only vaguely interested in reading the next two books in the trilogy. There were some minor word choice issues and just small problems that kept me from feeling wowed or excited to know what the author had in mind next. I’ve certainly wasted more time on worse books; I liked it overall, but it would be dishonest to say I was blown away.

Life goes on

I finished this book and was working on this review before I learned that Robin Williams had died. Initially, I had the same feeling I have when other celebrities pass -- life goes on. They're just people. And celebrities just happen to be people who make a lot more money than me and seem to have a lot more fun doing it. But then came the Facebook Flood of emotion and links and postings and everyone having something to say. So I had to share my own bit, and I'd like to do so here as well:

It's hard... I am supposed to be a writer... I am supposed to express myself better in written form than any other way. But when reading other people's comments about the apparent suicide of Robin Williams, when the words of others have moved me to tears again and again, I question my talent. Sometimes, I simply have no words to improve the silence. Williams is a celebrity. We have never met. But he has been in my home and been part of my life. The loss of his talent is profound, and I can't imagine what his loved ones are feeling when I am just a distant fan. I mean he's no Eddie Izzard. (That's a joke -- meant to relieve tension.) But aside from being a brilliant actor and comedian, he was a profound positive influence on many. (OK. For someone with no words, this is going on a bit, no?) I wish his family and friends laughter and peace. It's OK to remember funny things and laugh in the face of death. I'd like to think RW went out on his own terms, and laughing.

Other reviews you might like:

Artemis Fowl
Wall and the Wing
Divergent
A Foreign Field
Primrose Way
Sorority Girls With Guns
Magic Wakes
Almost Magic

And of course, my Wikinut link or you can read about me and my books. Follow me or comment below if so inspired. If not, well, life goes on.

(Image: http://www.barnorama.com/wp-content/images/2013/02/robin_williams/17-robin_williams.jpg)

Tags

Fantasy, Heart Problem, Paranormal Romance, Phyl Campbell, Twilight, Ya Fiction

Meet the author

author avatar Phyl Campbell
I am "Author, Mother, Dreamer." I am also teacher, friend, Dr. Pepper addict, night-owl. Visit my website -- phylcampbell.com -- or the "Phyl Campbell Author Page" on Facebook.

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Comments

author avatar spirited
13th Aug 2014 (#)

in-depth and honest review coming at it from all sides,

Yes, I was sad about Robin Williams passing too, thanks Phyl

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
13th Aug 2014 (#)

Thanks, Spirited.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
13th Aug 2014 (#)

Honest and frank review as you promised, thanks Phyl. Celebrities find it difficult to adjust to normal life as people see them as celebrities all the time, at least they feel so. The higher one rises the harder is the fall though RW was still quite high and he chose to go higher before his number was called - siva

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
13th Aug 2014 (#)

Great thoughts, Siva. Thanks.

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
13th Aug 2014 (#)

enjoyed this much Phyl and great that you honoured Robin Williams...

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
13th Aug 2014 (#)

Thanks!

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author avatar vellur
13th Aug 2014 (#)

Great review. The demise of Robin Williams is a great loss.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
13th Aug 2014 (#)

Thanks, Vellur.

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author avatar Retired
14th Aug 2014 (#)

Great review. Indeed, Robin's passing is such a sad loss. RIP Robin.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
14th Aug 2014 (#)

Thanks; I appreciate you stopping by and your kind words.

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author avatar Carol
14th Aug 2014 (#)

What a great review, and just to say I am so sad we lost Robin, he made so many people laugh.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
15th Aug 2014 (#)

Thanks so much Carol!!

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author avatar Ptrikha
14th Aug 2014 (#)

Looks like a great book to read. Great review!

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
15th Aug 2014 (#)

Thanks Ptrikha!

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author avatar Delicia Powers
14th Aug 2014 (#)

A very honest and well done review. I am too- so very sadden by the loss of Robin Williams ...

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
15th Aug 2014 (#)

Oh yes, Delicia. Thanks!

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author avatar Kingwell
24th Aug 2014 (#)

Good review.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
25th Aug 2014 (#)

Thanks, Kingwell!

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