Friday, 5 November 2010

Book Review: Hush Money by Susan Bischoff

Title: Hush Money (Talent Chronicle #1)
Author: Susan Bischoff
Number of pages: 192 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace
Release date: 28 June 2010
Source: Review copy provided by author
Purchase information: Goodreads, Amazon,
Kindle Store

For more information visit Susan Bischoff's website

Grade: 5 stars

Novellus superbus! 

Goodreads appetizer: Be normal, invisible. Don’t get close to anyone. Kids with psychic abilities tend to mysteriously disappear when they get noticed. Joss has spent years trying to hide. Now she has an unasked-for best friend, who is the victim of an extortion plot by the school bully, who used to like Joss, who is best friends with her long-time crush, who is actually talking to her. Life just got more complicated.

Longer version:
They call their abilities Talents, and that’s what they call themselves as well. Talents are people born with supernatural powers, feared by the population at large. Possession of an “unregistered ability” has become illegal, and those who are discovered are forcibly removed to government-run research facilities. For Talents, keeping their secret is the most important thing in their lives. For some, that need for secrecy begins to define who they are.

That’s how it is for Joss, a high school girl who does everything in her power to go unnoticed. She's incredibly bright, but strives to maintain grades that are good yet not too good. She doesn't participate in school activities, keeps quiet in class, eats by herself. Despite her longtime crush on Dylan, she wouldn't even think about trying to talk to him. Joss doesn't make friends of any kind, because friends can draw attention, friends can make you slip up, friends can make things complicated.

When new girl, Kat, steps in to rescue Joss from an uncomfortable situation with Marco, the class jerk, she doesn’t realize what she’s getting into, and it blows up in her face. Joss finds herself torn between a desire to do the right thing, to find some way to help a girl who was kind to her; and her need to mind her own business and fade into. For the first time, Joss begins to question the way she operates, and starts to long for connections with other people--especially a connection with Dylan, who's finally starting to talk to her.

But what's up with Dylan's sudden interest? As Marco’s best friend, can he be trusted at all?

It's bad enough when a girl's got to worry about friends, boys, over-protective dads, and shoes that pinch, but when you throw in blackmail, government agents with guns, and really annoying little sisters...that's just about too much to handle, even for a girl with an ass-kicking superpower.
My thoughts: Those who know me may have heard my quite loud and vehement protests against YA novels, so you might wonder what has happened that I'm reviewing a YA book. Well I confess: Hush Money happened! I gave it a chance because all the pro reasons (exciting premise, great cover and a wonderfully kind author) were overwhelming against the only one con: that it was YA. So I picked it up and couldn't put it down for hours!  (Warning: Hush Money is highly addictive, so take care when you start reading it, you won't be able to stop reading after a mere couple of pages, or the famous "just one more chapter".)

So you might be curious or even intrigued to learn why Hush Money is so unique that it overthrew all my concerns (and maybe prejudices) about YA novels. So let's see:

1. The heroine Joss is no whiny teenage girl, she is just as strong, independent and kick ass as any adult urban fantasy heroine. She takes charge and solves her problems on her own. 

2. But of course there is a perfectly dreamy hero to help her out and be her support, who is generous, brave, warm hearted and chivalrous. :-)

3. The synopsis/premise of the novel is freshly unique and exciting! It is action packed and will keep you turning the pages long after bedtime.. (trust me, I speak from experience ;-) lol)

4. Besides the two great main characters, the secondary characters are equally well developed and layered, offering a complex and colourful palette of characters.  

5. And the thing that makes all the previous reasons possible: Susan Bischoff's fantastic writing! It is evocative, detailed yet fast paced. The action and characters leap off the pages thanks to her talent with words. She is a true story teller, and I cannot wait to read more about Joss & co. and their adventures! 

Verdict: Hush Money is a fantastic debut novel written so perfectly you would never guess it is Susan Bischoff's literary introduction, a great choice for anyone who loves to read about exciting holding-your-breath kind of adventures (which still have a gentle romantic side ;-) ), and those who beware of anything YA: learn from my case and trust Hush Money, renounce your prejudices, I am sure you will love it!

Plot: 9/10
Characters: 9/10
Ending: 8/10
Writing: 9/10
Cover: 9/10

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