Harbinger by Sara Wilson Etienne
Review by: Lauren
Copy from publisher, but all opinions are my own
Official Summary: When sixteen-year-old Faye arrives at Holbrook Academy, she doesn’t expect to find herself exactly where she needs to be. After years of strange waking visions and nightmares, her only comfort the bones of dead animals, Faye is afraid she’s going crazy. Fast.
But her first night at Holbrook, she feels strangely connected to the school and the island it sits on, like she’s come home. She’s even made her first real friends, but odd things keep happening to them. Every morning they wake on the floors of their dorm rooms with their hands stained red.
Faye knows she’s the reason, but what does it all mean? The handsome Kel tries to help her unravel the mystery, but Faye is certain she can’t trust him; in fact, he may be trying to kill her – and the rest of the world too.
Review: This was an amazing novel! I’m not the person that grabs all the paranormal or dystopia novels…I tend to lean more toward the contemporary side of things. However, Harbinger was packed full of suspense, history, mystery, and yes…even some romance. I’m not sure how you would classify this novel exactly, as it’s a bit paranormal and takes place in a slightly dystopian future, but I suppose it doesn’t matter. I just think you should read it.
Faye is an intriguing character. She is sent to Holbrook Academy because her parents just can’t handle her anymore. She has hallucinations of the ocean swelling up around her, often causing her to faint when it gets too high, but this is something she can’t talk about. She’s just odd, off-balance, and her parents don’t know what to do. Holbrook Academy isn’t exactly a paradise though. It’s not somewhere you would want to send any of your children, let alone kids you believe need to be helped for whatever reason.
While at Holbrook, Faye is put into a Family who spend most of their time together. Included in this circle is Kel. This is where most of the romance comes into play but it’s not too much. I’m personally sick of the typical love stories and triangles, and Harbinger isn’t like that. The relationship between Faye and Kel is intense, but it’s also explained in a unique way…and I didn’t find that it overpowered the overall story.
I can see how Harbinger can be confusing. It does keep you guessing throughout, but I didn’t mind. I kept reading and I kept wanting to know more. Once things are finally revealed, the character of Faye starts to change and to be honest, it was hard to like her in the same way. She’s evolving though, and it was interesting to read and go along on the ride.
Tarot cards are a big part of this book and Faye’s destiny is basically written out in them. She must learn to make choices though and always see the larger picture. You might have some version of destiny or a fate, but it’s not always concrete. I loved the cover, by the way, because it looks like a tarot card and it’s bright and beautiful and for me, it makes me want to read the inside and see what this story is all about. It’s not just a pretty cover though…I really do think it fits the contents.
Basically, I really liked this book. I think it would appeal to a variety of readers and I loved that the ending could go both ways. It seems final, as if there will be no sequel, which I like. I’m not a huge fan of series because they are hard to keep up with and it’s just nice to have one, solid story. Harbinger is like that. When it ended, I felt like the story of Faye was complete. When I said I see it ending both ways, that means that I don’t know for sure if there will be more of Faye or not, and I suppose I could see how another story would work its way out of this one. I’m not sure if I’d be a fan of that or not…
At any rate, try out Harbinger. I’m having my sister read it now, so we’ll see what she thinks!