Author: Sophie Littlefield
Publication Date: October 12, 2010
Series: Banished #1
Links: Amazon | Goodreads
Source: Random Buzzers
There isn't much worth living for in Gypsum, Missouri -- or Trashtown, as the rich kids call the run-down neighborhood where sixteen-year-old Hailey Tarbell lives. Hailey figures she'll never belong -- not with the popular kids at school, not with the rejects, not even with her cruel, sickly grandmother, who deals drugs out of their basement. At least Hailey has her four-year-old foster brother, Chub. Once she turns eighteen, Hailey plans to take Chub far from Gypsum and start a new life where no one can find them.
But when a classmate is injured in gym class, Hailey discovers a gift she cannot ignore. Not only can she heal, she can bring the dying back to life. Confused by her powers, Hailey searches for answers but finds only more questions, until a mysterious visitor shows up at Gram's house, claiming to be Hailey's Aunt Prairie.
There are people who will stop at nothing to keep Hailey in Trashtown. But when Prairie saves both Hailey and Chub from armed attackers who invade Gram's house in the middle of the night, Hailey must decide where to place her trust. Will Prairie's past, and the long-buried secret that caused her to leave Gypsum years earlier, ruin them all? Because as Hailey will soon find out, their power to heal is just the beginning.
I found Hailey to be a great protagonist. I thought that her reactions to the things around her were believable and appropriate. She just felt kinda down to earth and honest to me, and I liked that because it was easy to relate to and sympathize with her. The supporting characters were well done also. The creepy ones made me cringe and the rude ones made me want to punch them in their throats. Prairie and Chub are lovable, determined and reassuring. I also particularly liked their allies - we don't get to see much of them in this installment, but I am definitely looking forward to getting more of them in the second book.
The plot pacing is not as quick in the first part of the book, which is sort of introductory, but still intriguing. Once that stuff is out of the way though, it picks up pretty quickly and easily. After a while, I found it increasingly difficult to put down, as the danger, action and tension increased over time. My one gripe was that it felt like the plot was a lot heavier toward the end of the book than in the middle. Although the threat in this first book is somewhat resolved, I felt like it really wasn't, so I would have liked for Banished to continue just a little further with the story before stopping for book two.
If you like fantasies with a paranormal flair, you'll probably find this to be a new and exciting spin on the genre.