Monday, February 18, 2013

Review: Phoebe Pope and the Year of Four by Nya Jade

Title: Phoebe Pope and the Year of Four
Author: Nya Jade
Series: A Shapers Novel #1
Publisher: Dreamwell Publishing
Release Date: October 30, 2012
ISBN13: 9780615693743
Format: Paperback, 335 pages
Genre: YA, urban fantasy, paranormal, romance
Source: blog tour

The students of Green Lane Academy roam their halls unaware that below their manicured campus exists a prestigious school of an entirely different kind . . .

Sixteen-year-old Phoebe Pope has enrolled at the Campus Below: a spy academy for shape-shifters hidden deep beneath the grounds of a boarding school whose humans unknowingly protect it. There, thanks to a carefully planned schedule, she leads a double life: spy trainee Below and normal teenager Above.

As if two course loads, concealing a secret power she alone wields, and coping with her father’s recent death weren’t enough, Phoebe finds herself developing major feelings for actor and teen heartthrob Colten Chase, who attends the Campus Above and appears to be majoring in winning Phoebe’s heart. But when officials learn that Phoebe may be at the center of a startling prophecy, she becomes the target of shape-shifting assassins who will stop at nothing to suppress the truth.

Now Phoebe’s lessons about Shaper’s enemies and spycraft take on great importance as a menace stalks the campus, with Phoebe as its target. Meanwhile, what began as an unlikely relationship with Colten, quickly morphs into heartache when she suspects that something sinister lurks beneath this movie star’s glitter and fame. Suddenly, Phoebe’s caught in a mesh of lies, betrayals, and danger where she doesn’t know who to trust, and needs to rely on herself—and her secret power—to get to the truth and to stay alive.
Phoebe Pope and the Year of Four was a surprising and pleasant read. I went into the story not really expecting anything extraordinary to burst out, and while it didn't cross the threshold into mindblowing, I truly did enjoy it very much.

To be honest, a lot of the story reminded me of the Hex Hall trilogy by Rachel Hawkins, but after the painful withdrawal caused by the release of its final installment last year, Phoebe Pope was the perfect fix for me. Basically, Phoebe is one of the many Shapers, a supernatural race that lives among humans, who have the task of hunting down Vigos. Why? Vigos, who were once part of the Shapers community, had turned to mito-hungry beasts, taking energy from the source of energy for humans, the mitochondria. But Phoebe's special: she's a Hypha, one of the rare Shaper x Human offspring, and also the only one with a certain set of special powers . . . Intriguing, is it not?

Phoebe is a fresh voice to hear. She's strong, even with everything going against her, as well as down to earth, which is probably my favourite thing about her. When Colten Chase, heartthrob-extraordinaire, starts taking special interest in her, she, like any typical girl would, is stunned, but she manages to shrug it off and keep her head on straight. At times, she does grate a little on my nerves by being a little too envious and putting herself down, but those were simply minor glitches in her character. To add more epicness, she's part of this prophecy that involves the four Hyphas at Green Lane Academy, and just might be the one who'd eventually gain some truly badass elemental powers in addition to those that she already had.

As for her love interest, at the beginning he was a bit meh in my opinion. I honestly didn't feel sparks fly with Colten. The only things he had going for him was that: a)he's hot and b)he's a celebrity. Otherwise, I felt it was a bit too nicely set up. Somewhere halfway through however, he began to win me over. Right now, he's not anywhere near being one of my fictional crushes, but he did earn the Approval Stamp of Date-ability.

The plot, like Colten, wasn't all too impressive at first. It was very interesting, with the original concept and intricate Shaper society, but it was simply too tidy, making me less than wholly immersed. But somewhere in the middle, Nya Jade threw me a couple of loops with some serious plot twist that I had no idea were coming. If someone could turn surprise twists into surprise attacks, Nya Jade would be a ninja. Did that make sense? No? Okay.

To tie things up, I really liked reading Phoebe Pope and the Year of Four. It was original, had a kickass heroine, and some serious plot twists. Sure, some minor tweaks wouldn't hurt, but it's still a wonderful read that I highly recommend.
Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins - Sophie's a witch, but what good is it when you can't even use your powers? After making people take a second glance during prom night, she's sent off to the reform school, Hex Hall, where things just go further downhill . . .

Born at Midnight by C. C. Hunter - Shipped off to a camp for "troubled" teens, Kylie has a reason to be pissed. Especially when those teens are a very special sort of "troubled". Any supernatural being, ranging from vampire to fairy, can be found at Shadow Falls. The perks? A charming half-fae, and a ripped werewolf vying for her attention. But what if even among a group of supernatural misfits, she still doesn't belong?

Deception by Lee Nichols - Catching the first chance to be a rebel, Emma's plan is foiled by some cops, and the guy she had a crush on for the longest time, who just so happens to be her new guardian. Leaving her home behind, she is taken to New England and enrolled in Thatcher Academy where, luckily, she fits right in. But there's something . . . off about the visions and memories she has of Thatcher, ones that she can't find an explanation for.
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