Title: Human Blend by Lori Pescatore Genre: Paranormal/YA/Suspense
Summary: Marion, Virginia seemed like a nice place to live a normal life, but she is not a normal girl. Laney has special abilities that keep her looking over her shoulder as she makes her escape from the men who had kidnapped her. A young doctor's interest is piqued when he witnesses her mysteriously curing a young child's illness. He befriends her due to his growing fascination with uncovering the true nature of her abilities, but not without harboring secrets of his own. Laney's budding relationship with a local boy puts both of them in danger when the men she was hiding from find her. All of their lives will change forever as ancient secrets become unearthed.
Review: I won this book some time ago and Ms Pescatore signed it for me, too (Thank you :) which was very nice of her. I had read some reviews of Human Blend on several book blogs and it seemed interesting and just up my alley, as they say. It seemed like a mixture of Dark Angel (loved the show) and Mutant X and several other exciting things.
The book starts very quickly, immediately introducing us to Laney who is running from men who were keeping her hostage and using her gifts, her supernatural gifts, to their advantage. Her most lucrative gift is the fact that she can predict the numbers that win the lotteries and other games of luck, but it's not the only one. We realize that she can also heal humans by taking their illness into her system and absorbing them till they are gone. However, that takes a lot of energy out of her and because of that she has a big appetite. Laney may be on the run, but money is not an issue because she took some of what she had won for her captors with her, giving her the convenience of traveling and finding food, shelter etc quite easily. The fact that we are told she is quite pretty, doesn't hurt either.
Life so far hasn't treated her kindly and she might look like an 18-year-old, but in reality she is much older than that. It is under these circumstances, alone and on the run that she finds herself in the small town of Marion, Virginia.
She stops to eat and find a hotel, wanting nothing other than not to attract attention to herself, but her looks draw Austin to her. Austin is a boy her age (at least the one she looks)and since he is a local, he takes it upon himself to show her around, find her the perfect place to stay and generally make her feel so comfortable and welcome that she will want to stick around.
Austin succeeds in all of that. The people are friendly, no one is over-the-top nosy and she finally believes she has found a home for herself. Somewhere quiet that she can help people and not get caught. She even successfully finds work as a volunteer at the local hospital, helping a girl with terminal cancer.
While she touches the girl absorbing the cancer, though (because she needs to touch the person she heals) the doctor in charge, Dr Eli Elsworth, catches her in the act and understands what her gift is. He takes it suspiciously well and we soon find out that he has abilities of his own, not exactly like Laney's, though.
Laney (who calls herself Julia in this town), realizes the more people know about her, the more dangerous it is - not so much for her, but for them as her former captors would kill them- but she can't find it in her heart to leave, because she is falling in love with Austin and she has made new friends at the hospital. Her selfless need to help and heal is so intense, that she even puts her own self in danger, as she even forgets to eat and replenish what she has lost.
Laney never had anyone to teach her and guide her so that she understands her abilities and can make the most use of them and when a new doctor appears at the hospital and claims he is of her species, Laney is both excited and mistrustful. He claims to know who she is and what she can do and chastises her for not getting in contact with them for so long and for neglecting to harness and control her gifts, one of them being "lure" making her sexually irresistible to both humans and her own species.
What she doesn't know though, focused on experiencing love for the first time in Austin's arms is that one of her past nemeses has been stalking her waiting for the right minute to strike and use her again, taking advantage on the new bonds she has made with people. Having them die because of her is one of Laney's biggests nightmares.
I don't want to say any more about the plot and give it all away, but I can say that it was a remarkable journey. The author really makes us feel about Laney. Most of the parts are narrated through her eyes and we come to feel for her and sympathize with her for all she has suffered through no fault of her own. It is not like she has a deadly ability. She can heal and she can make herself rich or make you love her. But selfless and idealistic as she is, she would never use them for evil. I came to admire Laney as a character because even though she is in a dire situation, constantly having to look over her shoulder, she doesn't come off as whiny or too weak. although I have to admit that I would have loved to have seen her fight back more and take her chances instead of submitting.
Then again the threat wasn't to her, but to everyone she has come to care about, so one thinks twice before risking it. It's one thing to die and quite another to be responsible for the death of others.
Eli was another intriguing character and his species members look like they could go either way, good or evil (we saw a mischievous one towards the end)and I found that really good and original. I liked the fact that he was so serious and restrained and noble in his own way and he was a pretty reliable person throughout the story.
Austin's friends and Laney's nurse friends at the hospital were adequately explored and I really liked that we had one of Austin's friends be a bit irresponsible and annoying at first and then turn around and be much help.
At parts the author gave us insights into other characters' heads, as well, which made it easier to connect and follow the story. The building of mystery and suspense was more than enough to keep you reading and the ending makes you eager to read a second book! :)
Verdict: A pretty original book, written almost like a movie in your head. Characters you will love and characters you will hate will keep your blood pumping and the suspense will build up not only because you will want to know who Laney really is and where she came from, but also because you will want to know what happens next, if everyone comes out safe and unharmed and if Laney can hold on to her true love.
Rating: 4 1/2 stars. I have to subtract half a star for some editing mistakes, but I think the ebook Smashwords editions have already taken care of that, so you shouldn't find any problems.
SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL REVIEW FOR SPARK
I'm delighted to share a fantastic School Library Journal review for SPARK:
*Gr 6-10*–Strange and powerful forces are at work in the skies over sleepy
I'm Kelly (aka yllektra) from Greece and I love to read. I read books both in Greek and English (some in Italian, too), but mostly in English.
I love the following genres: YA, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Mystery, Paranormal Romance, Thrillers, Forensic Thrillers, Crime Thrillers, Dystopian, Horror, Vampire/Werewolf/Shifter/Ghost/Zombie, Historical Romance, Biographies, Romance, Science Fiction.
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