I can’t say this book is reinventing the YA star-crossed teenage love story trope, but it has a few things I like that are a bit different. We have Ethan, who’s lived a small South Carolina town all his life, and has wanted to leave for ages. His high school is full of people who don’t want to leave, and while he fits in because his family has lived in Gatlin forever, he doesn’t really feel like he belongs.
Into this comes Lena, the niece of Macon Ravenwood, who lives in the old plantation at the edge of town, who no one ever sees. She drives his hearse to school. And it turns out she’s the girl in the dreams Ethan’s been having, where they’re together, and he’s unable to rescue her from some terrible fate. You can totally see where this is going – the cheerleaders hate her, and when Ethan and Lena get together, things get interesting. Oh, plus she’s a Caster. And when she turns 16, she’s going to either go for the light side, or the dark side, and she has no control over which way she goes.
I like that Ethan is the narrator here – it’s nice to see it from the boy’s point of view. And I’m really glad that while Lena does have powers, she’s still a teenager, so you don’t get an icky Twilight vibe from their relationship. It’s intense, but in a normal teenage way.
I’ll be interested to see where the story goes from here – I’m leaving out a ton of extra detail that will clearly be explored further in the future books of this series.