Title: Arcadia’s Gift
Author: Jesi Lea Ryan
Length: 3601 Kindle units
Rating: 4 stars
Arcadia “Cady” Day has a fairly normal high school life. She’s disappointed that her parents are separating, but excited that a cute new boy interested in her. Then her twin sister Lony is hit by a train and killed, and suddenly everything changes. Not only does she have to deal with her own grief and that of her family, but she has developed the power to feel the emotions of people around her. Can she cope with all the changes in her life?
Arcadia’s Gift was quite well-written. I enjoyed the realistic depictions of Cady’s friends and family, particularly as they related to Lony. We saw how Cady didn’t always get along with her twin, and how her friend thought being assigned Lony as a long-time lab partner was the worst thing that could happen to him. But of course no one wanted her to die. The story also convincingly portrays the grief of a family losing a child. Cady has her ups and downs accepting Lony’s death, and she also has to literally experience the emotions of her emotionally distant father and brother and her mother, who turns to drugs and alcohol to solve her problems.
It’s not so much that there’s anything really bad about Arcadia’s Gift. It’s more that nothing happens. I mean, Cady’s sister dies, and it’s sad. She meets a boy, and there is a tiny bit of contrived difficulty. She has a power, and it has mechanics. But there’s no plot. There’s no rising action that leads to a climax. There’s no major conflict that demands resolution. It’s like we got the world-building architecture but none of the story that takes place in the world Which, to be honest, is not that inspiring and kind of boring.
Also, open casket funeral for someone who was hit by a train? That doesn’t sound like something I would want to see.
I have a friend who reads the books that I strongly recommend on my blog, and sometimes he comes back that he doesn’t like them because they are what he describes as “too high school.” I have asked him to better explain what he means by this, and it seems to be that the characters have too many melodramatic highs and lows, where the slightest thing sets them off into an emotional tailspin. Using this definition, I think that I found the romance of Arcadia’s Gift a little too high school.
Cady meets Bryan before her sister dies, and he becomes a source of support for her because he has also lost a sibling. They are just friends at first, and then they admit they like each other as more than friends. And then a few days later he admits that he is going to Homecoming with someone else, and Cady goes psycho and won’t let him explain. And I’m like, “There are a ton of possible totally reasonable explanations for this.” But Cady locks herself in the bathroom sobbing. And I pretty much think this is an overreaction.
Will I read more?
Eh. I didn’t really dislike reading Arcadia’s Gift, but I was also not super drawn in. I’m not really feeling like there was enough there to bring me back for a second installment.
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