Wednesday, 3 October 2012

REVIEW: Silence by Michelle Sagara

Pub. Date: May 1st 2012
Publisher: DAW
Pages: 289
Readership: Young adult
Genres: supernatural, ghosts, necromancy
It began in the graveyard… 
Ever since her boyfriend Nathan had died in a tragic accident, Emma had been coming to the graveyard at night. During the day she went through the motions at her prep school, in class, with her friends, but that’s all it was. For Emma, life had stopped with Nathan’s death. But tonight was different. Tonight Emma and her dog were not alone in the cemetery. There were two others there—Eric, who had just started at her school, and an ancient woman who looked as though she were made of rags. And when they saw Emma there, the old woman reached out to her with a grip as chilling as death….  
Emma was not quite like others teenagers. It was true that other girls had experienced grief. Other girls had also lost their fathers, or had their boyfriends die in a senseless accident. But though she hadn’t known it till that night in the graveyard, unlike those other girls, she could see, touch, and speak with the dead. In fact, Emma could draw upon the essence of the dead to work magic. That was what Necromancers did. But Emma had no desire to be a Necromancer. She just wanted to help the ghosts who walked the streets of Toronto, unable to escape from the land of the living. And that was just as well, because had she chosen the path of the Necromancer, Eric would have had to kill her.  
Instead, Eric and his fellow Necromancer hunter Chase found themselves violating every rule they were sworn to follow, becoming part of Emma’s group, helping her to stand against those who preyed upon the dead. But whether Emma and her friends could survive such a battle was anyone’s guess. And whether Emma could learn to use the magic of the dead against her enemies without herself falling victim to the lure of such power remained to be seen. Eric seemed to think she could, and her living friends would never abandon her. But only time would tell what Emma’s true destiny was….

I happened to be browsing around Chapters when I stumbled upon this book. At the time, I had far too many to buy and far too little money so I had put it back on the shelf and walked away. I went back and got it the next day because I regretted it. I love a good necromancy story and there aren't many out there in the YA sphere. The only other one that even came to mind was Kelley Armstrong's Darkest Powers series.

I was hooked from the start. These days it's rare for me to know I'm really going to love a book from it's first page but Silence did it for me. The writing style is fantastic and fresh. Michelle had a way of weaving words together beautiful to create the dark, interesting world of the book. I flew through the first chunk of the book. I began to pace myself because Silence was one of those gems that I didn't want to read too fast because then it would end.

The characters in Silence were fantastic. There's Emma - the lead - who has been through a lot in her life. She's lost two people that she loved very much: her father and her boyfriend Nathan. After Nathan's death she shut down, pulled away from the world and the people around her. Even though she is still very much grieving, she's still so very strong. She puts her friends and family before herself. She's even willing to put strangers before herself sometimes. She's been through so much that you sympathize with her and begin to really feel her pain and sadness. The other characters were brilliant as well. They each had their own distinct personalities and ways that they fit into Emma's life. Allison and Amy are vastly different and yet they fit into Emma's life in their own ways. Ally is the quiet girl on the sidelines. She is definitely not an outcast but she is fine with where she stands in the social sphere of Emma and her other friends. Amy is the queen bee. She's headstrong, stubborn and she throws all the parties. Out of all of Emma's friends, I liked Michael the most. He is a high-functioning autistic boy. He is no burden to his friends. They are very protective of him. They help him day to day but that's their norm; they wouldn't have it any other way. He's especially helpful in all the supernatural things they are now knee deep in. He sees things in black and white. While others might try to explain the ghosts as a trick of the mind or rationalize it because they're afraid of the unknown and the weird, Michael sees it as 100% truth because he saw it with his own eyes and it is now his reality. The group of friends was such a thrill to read about. I found myself wanting to be one of them too.

It was nice, for a change, that the story didn't focus on a romance. There were romantic aspects such as Emma's love lost with Nathan, and a spark with her and Eric but by no means was it a central plot point and that was very refreshing. The first installment of the series focused more on the necromancy, what  Emma was, who Eric and Chase were and the lore that will surely take off in book two and beyond.

Silence was by far one of my favorite reads this year. I love how Michelle tackled real life problems in such a supernatural setting. It was the perfect blend of fantasy with reality and it worked brilliantly. There were many mysteries that were revealed slowly as opposed to one big reveal and I thought that was a great way to keep the reader going and guessing. I cannot wait for book two to come out. Michelle has me hooked.



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