Thursday, May 15, 2014

Must-Read YA Romance: 'The One,' 'Swimming Through Clouds,' 'Fractured Truth'

by Serena Chase)

(Photo: Harper Teen)

The One by Kiera Cass

What it's about (from publisher HarperTeen):

The Selection changed America Singer's life in ways she never could have imagined. Since she entered the competition to become the next princess of Illéa, America has struggled with her feelings for her first love, Aspen—and her growing attraction to Prince Maxon. Now she's made her choice . . . and she's prepared to fight for the future she wants.

Find out who America will choose in The One, the enchanting, beautifully romantic third book in the Selection series!

Why you should read it: The wildly popular Selection series by Kiera Cass is sweet YA fairy tale romance — within a dystopian world full of explosions, gunshots, secrets, politics, and a little sass. I loved it, and although I am happy with the way it concluded, I am feeling a little dejected *sniffles* to have come to "the end."

In both book two, The Elite, and book three, The One, there were a lot of times I wanted to grab America by the shoulders and shake some sense into her, but regardless of the poor choices she made and the opportunities she ignored, I remained gleefully addicted to this story and entirely invested in its outcome. Now that I've completed the entire tale *insert rapturous sigh* I consider myself among the quieter — and also, ahem, older — members of the Selection Fandom.

The pace of the series is quite steady up until the last third of the final book, when — Zip! Bam! Zinger! — everything changes and the characters are forced to suffer one tragic surprise after another. I would be lying if I didn't admit to a gasp, followed closely by an exhaled, "No-oooo!" at one particularly violent moment in the book. The author masterfully pulled off that shocker by building my affection for the character-in-question so much, but so gradually, that it almost physically hurt to say goodbye when the moment struck.

Although the idea of a royal-wedding-meets-The-Bachelor reality competition might seem a little fluffy at first glance, don't let the story premise fool you. Instead, trust the readers who have made this series so insanely popular. If this is fluff, it's a dark-chocolate mousse flambé — the sort of fluff that has a deep-flavored smoothness throughout and sizzling finale that leaves you fully satisfied. I ate it up.

Read the first two books first, of course, but once you do, I think you will find The One to be a tasty — and tasteful — fairy tale/dystopian romance.

(Photo: Playlist Vision)

Swimming Through Clouds by Rajdeep Paulus

What it's about (from publisher Playlist Fiction):

When high school cell phone disruption forces a classroom ban, the words on a Post-it note spark a sticky romance between two unlikely friends. Transfer student Talia Vanderbilt has one goal at her new school: to blend in with the walls. Lagan Desai, basketball captain and mathlete, would do just about anything to befriend the new girl. One Post-it note at a time, Lagan persuades Talia to peel back her heart, slowly revealing her treasure chest of pain—an absent mother, a bedridden brother, and an abusive father. In a world where hurt is inevitable, the two teens search for a safe place to weather the storms of life. Together.

Why you should read it: This novel surprised me in so many ways. With beautifully crafted poetic prose, author Rajdeep Paulus weaves fear and tragedy, hope and romance through a story that dictates you endure emotional anguish right along with her characters. When I say this is not an easy book to read, I am not speaking of vocabulary or comprehension levels, though there is a superb level of craft on display in this novel; I am speaking of the emotional depth of suffering through which this author dredges a reader's soul. Once you experience — for that is how it feels — the horrors of Talia's reality, it is impossible to disengage yourself from it. It is no wonder this novel has received so many award nominations and has garnered praise from critics, bestselling authors, and readers, alike. It is a work of art.

Talia is so fragile, so frightened, and so lonely — but she never comes off as weak, only as waiting to discover her strength. Lagan is steady, patient, creative and every bit the romantic hero she needs, but the prison within which Talia lives erects obstacles to his heroism. Although the physical, verbal, and emotional abuse suffered by Talia is beyond difficult to bear, even as a reader, it resonates as all-too-true, making Swimming Through Clouds the sort of story that lingers and begs you not to exit it unchanged.

Watch for my rec of the sequel, Seeing Through Stones, coming soon!

(Photo:: Cedar Fort)

Fractured Truth by Rachel McClellan

What it's about (from publisher Cedar Fort):

Llona is determined to end the fight with the Vykens once and for all. All she needs is to find and destroy the Shadow—the ultimate source of dark power. But when she makes a startling discovery about someone she loves, Llona has to fight the toughest battle yet in this exciting conclusion to the Fractured Light series.

Why you should read it: With so many dystopian and fairy-tale romances blasting toward bookshelves and e-readers, some of the YA paranormal romances out there are being lost in the shuffle. But if you enjoy mixing things up with a few monsters and some extrasensory-abled heroes and heroines like I do, I suggest you try out Rachel McClellan's Fractured Light series. And now that all three books in the trilogy are available, you won't even have to put the story on pause while you wait for the next installment.

Or will you?

Fractured Truth is being billed as the series conclusion, but the way it ends left me with a bit of hope for a spin-off series. (Note: This is an unconfirmed hope!) Yes, the ending is satisfying, and a total fist-in-the-air for Girl Power, but there are still some loose ends (although they are rather tidy, for being loose, so my hope for that spin-off series tends to waver!) Not all the threats have been neutralized and not all the romance questions have been answered, but even more than the "what could be" and the "HEA that isn't quite a sure thing," I just want to see more of these awesome people groups Rachel McClellan has dreamed up! Lycans, Furies, Vykens, Lizens, Auras and others — oh my! Rachel McClellan has created too many unique humanoid species for me to be content with only three books. Plus, I pretty much love Liam as a romantic hero, so I can't help wanting a little bit more of him *winks.*

Still wondering if this book is up your alley? Check out my recs of the first two books of this hard-to-put-down YA paranormal romance series.

A writer, performer and accomplished partaker of dark chocolate, Serena Chase lives in Iowa with her husband and two daughters. The first two books in her debut Eyes of E'veria series, The Ryn and The Remedy, are out now. You can find out more about her at

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