Solitary, by Travis Thrasher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I really didn't expect this book to be so good. Usually, young adult/teen fiction is just way too hokey for me. Either the secular stuff is too strong or the Christian stuff is too "pretty," and I just don't get into it. But Travis Thrasher grabbed me right away in this thriller.
Chris, 16, moves to the middle of nowhere with his mom, who's nursing the pain from her recent divorce by drinking a bit too much wine. Chris makes a few friends, finds himself attracted to a lovely but mysterious girl, and soon becomes the target of the school bully. Then freaky things start to happen in this strange town, and Chris quickly realizes he's in over his head. This high school drama becomes a thriller really quickly.
I don't always like for my stories to end in a pretty package. Okay, if it's Amish fiction, I expect that. But when I'm hanging on every page, I want my characters real. The struggles this young man and his mother have are real. (SPOILER) Even after all Chris is exposed to, he doesn't believe in God and rejects his Christian father because of the faith that eventually drove a wedge between his parents. Subtle seeds are planted, so I can assume that Chris will make his way to the cross before the series ends, but I appreciated that the natural progression didn't lead him running to God right away. That's true to life.
Although I thought the characters were a bit too wise for their young ages, I found most of the portrayal of teenage life to be believable and realistic. I was surprised (disappointed) in the ending, and will HAVE to get my hands on the next book in this series. There were just too many questions left unanswered, too many things unexplained. I tend to like my story lines a little more resolved than what Thrasher provides, but maybe he's just a smart guy... I'll be buying the next book, after all!
(I got this for free on Amazon.)