I received a free ebook of Wind Catcher as part of a MDBR Book Review Blast. I understood it was an upper MG fantasy, which is stretching what I think is appropriate, and I’d classify it as YA with a young protagonist. From a European perspective I think it’s too violent for MG, and it’s heading towards crime scifi.
About the Book
Title: Wind Catcher (Chosen, Book 1) | Authors: Jeff Altabef & Erynn Altabef | Publication Date: March 21, 2015 | Publisher: Evolved Publishing | Pages: 324 | Recommended Ages: 10+
Juliet Wildfire Stone hears voices and sees visions, but she can’t make out what they mean. Her eccentric grandfather tells her stories about the Great Wind Spirit and Coyote, but he might as well be speaking another language. None of it makes any sense.
When she stumbles upon a series of murders, she can’t help but worry her grandfather might be involved. To discover the truth, Juliet must choose between her new life at an elite private school and her Native American heritage. Once she uncovers an ancient secret society formed over two hundred years ago to keep her safe, she starts to wonder whether there’s some truth to those old stories her grandfather has been telling her.
All she wants is to be an average sixteen-year-old girl, but she has never been average-could never be average. Betrayed by those she loves, she must decide whether to run or risk everything by fulfilling her destiny as the Chosen.
This is a really interesting setting, with a teen girl really going through some very odd experiences as she tries to reconcile her Native American roots and single-mom-plus-weird-grandfather upbringing with a snooty school full of rich kids and an often-absent Mom who’s got a power legal career. I usually enjoyed the Native American links, although they were a bit disjointed at times (possibly in line with Juliet’s disjointed connection to them), and as you might expect I really disliked the snooty girl bullying at the rich school. Hey, some people lap that stuff up, but I find it horrific that this sort of behaviour seems to be considered the norm in the US – or maybe it’s only teen stories. (and yes, I know there’s more of it in the UK than there used to be, or has it always been the prerogative of the rich?)
It’s a compelling story, with the murder and torture of one of Juliet’s grandfather’s friends leading to discoveries of secret societies in the past, and a suspicion that her grandfather is fully involved in the crimes. Juliet manages to link up with her real friends to delve deeper into the past and uncover guardians of a secret, followed by revelations about the secret itself, as she discovers her destiny.
Just writing ‘discovers her destiny’ makes me shiver, since it’s such a cliche, and this book is full of them. It’s also full of either magical descriptions or really clunky (or klutzy) similes. One even made me stop reading to consider what my editor would say, in the middle of a really good action sequence. I was disappointed that the Native American legends seem to be morphing into an alien scifi story for the rest of the series.
It’s won or been mentioned in a shelf-load of awards, which just goes to show I’m not in touch with what these awards are for. It’s got a father-daughter writing partnership, and I couldn’t tell who wrote which, but there are definitely differences in writing styles throughout the book that make it very uneven. I’m sure loads of teenage girls will love it, but I would put a PG-13 on it at the very least. Although, of course, there’s nothing more than hand-holding in it on the relationships front!
Oh, and it has a baddie labelled as a Brit but he doesn’t speak English. I think he was meant to be speaking English by putting his swearwords in very strange places and adding “mate” randomly. Is he a token Brit or will it become important during the series?