October 18, 2012

Review of The Suburban Strange by Nathan Kotecki


Shy Celia Balaustine is new to Suburban High, but a mysterious group of sophomores called the Rosary has befriended her. Friends aside, Celia soon discovers something is not quite right at Suburban. Girls at the school begin having near-fatal accidents on the eve of their sixteenth birthdays. Who is causing the accidents, and why? As Celia’s own birthday approaches, she is inexorably drawn into an underground conflict between good and evil—the Kind and the Unkind—that bubbles beneath Suburban High. Plentiful references to music and art—along with the intriguing underworld mythology—make this supernatural series debut a page-turner.

The Suburban Strange by Nathan Kotecki
Publication Date:  October 2, 2012
Publisher:  Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
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** This title was provided to us by the Publisher for an honest review.
We were in no way paid for our opinions **

Well, when I first started reading the Suburban Strange I judged the book by its cover and assumed that because of how pretty the cover is that the rest of the novel would follow off from there. Was I correct? Definitely, in some areas. But honestly, the one thing that had me wanting to even give the story a try was the bit of titling that tells readers about how Celia’s sixteenth birthday could be the end of her life as she knows it. Dun, dun, dun! That being said I expected the story to be this action filled thriller and what I got was something else entirely.  The Suburban Strange was an entertaining and gothic read.

And I mean that in a literal sense, the characters are Goths but stray far away from the clichéd view of Goths. They don’t wear white face paint or black lipstick. The characters in the Suburban Strange wear black clothing and music that is very dark and somewhat ethereal. The novel itself throws us into the life of main character Celia Balaustine who is entering a new school and a new life for herself. Instead of being the outcast she was last year, Celia becomes a member of an elite clique known as the Rosary. Celia now has friends, an interest in darker clothing and music and is thrown into the realm of the supernatural!

Whoa! The supernatural? Yes the supernatural because if you’re going to have gothic characters, gothic club going and punk music you need to have some supernatural elements to make the story awesome-sauce. At Suburban High (which already sounds like it would be stuffed with the supernatural) sophomore girls are dying the day before their sixteenth birthdays. While Celia does witness most of the “accidents” she knows that they hold deeper and meaning and begins involving herself in the Kind and the Unkind.

The simplest way to define the Kind and Unkind is by saying that the Kind are people who have a natural affinity for white magic and the Unkind are people who have a natural affinity for black magic.  And one of the Unkind is trying to kill an innocent teenage girl the day before she turns sweet sixteen. I have to admit that there was a lot of hype built up on the topic and I was highly disappointed by the turn of events that unfolded on Celia’s sixteenth birthday.

All I’m gonna say without spoiling the story. All in all, I really did enjoy the story. It didn’t have over the top romance and stuck to the plot rather than ramble on aimlessly on the subject of romance. This novel was a lot darker than most of the YA novels that I’ve read lately and I have to admit that I’m happy I enjoyed the story. Celia is a character who isn’t afraid to put herself in danger to save others and beneath her skin she is still afraid of becoming an outcast again.  My only complaint is that I found the pacing to be inconsistent. It was up, down, swirl it around and that would cause my mind to wander away from the story and to the internet. A lot.

I would recommend the Suburban Strange to fans of the YA supernatural, teen-fic and of thrilling reads.

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  1. jennrenee

    This is one that I am so excited for. Great review. I feel I know so much more about the book now because honestly, I was mainly going on the cover and title myself. Sounds like a great book to sit and read on a cold stormy day.

  2. Angel @ Book Flame

    I’ve had this on my must reads mainly because of that cover and I love the title also. Your review was so helpful. I like dark novels so i’ll still be picking this one up. Great review!

  3. Great review!! I think I seen this in one of your Stacking the Shelves post and then I had added it to my must have list. The cover is mostly what attracted me. However hearing that this is a Gothic novel kinda has me more excited :D

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