Whiplash and Tough Love in Black Five by J. Lynn Bailey
J. Lynn Bailey
Genre: YA Fantasy
No one ever accused Penelope Jackson of being normal, nor did they suspect the dark secret she kept. A dangerous web of deceit and secrecy unravels when news of a stranger’s death puts Penn on a collision course with the very person she’s been hiding from her whole life. Her fragile world is shaken to its core with the sudden arrival of Vacavious and she soon discovers the bizarre and magical world surrounding her seemingly ordinary life.No one is who they claim to be, including those closest to Penn. A mysterious security detail emerges from the shadows scrambling to protect her as powerful forces await the fall of her protective veil on her eighteenth birthday.Penn prepares to fight against unseen evils before it’s too late. The world of Nighmerianotte and its population depends on her survival, for she is the Sanguine.
Review copy provided thru NetGalley
Right now, as I write this review, I am chuckling and shaking my head at the insanity of it all. Masochism, bipolarity and a lot of whiplash were what I took away from this. There were also mind-over-matter, mind-over-matter and mind-over-matter. Whoops! Nope, the heart rules all.
The concept of a seemingly ordinary girl but has an extraordinary destiny is not new to YA; it's been a tried-and-tested formula and has already gone through a lot of incarnations and personalities. Black Five, initially, was not supposed to be like this, as I thought back to the first time I read the synopsis. I should have known. I liked Penelope. She acted normal, a little kooky, and aware. I liked her scars and how real and vulnerable they made her. I liked her, at first; then she found out about being a speshul little snowflake.
There comes a time in a heroine's life when she finds out about being not so ordinary after all and she either crumbles and whines or she woman up and face the goddamn music - have courage and be kind. But when Penelope found out and she met all these people, who were her security detail and stalked her all her life, she became... well, as I said there's a lot of whiplash.
In one of my reading updates, I commented about this being a lot what Harry Potter went through. Penelope was not told of her real self, her origins, to protect her, to give her a normal childhood, and for the greater good. Fat lot it did to Harry. While I understood about their reasons, it came to mind that no matter what they did, Penelope will be anything but ordinary. She endured a hard childhood; she killed at eight. To me, in these circumstances, it is better to tell the truth at a young age - not a blow-by-blow account! Think man! - gradually and in a way that they're eased into it, so that you wouldn't end up with a thoroughly confused and scared teenager who suddenly has the weight of a destiny on her shoulders. Bad form. She was upset, of course, and angry and I expected a lot of yelling, sulking, and cursing but all in all she took it calmly and rationalized everything that the people who kept everything from her - okay, lied to her face. I would've stayed in one corner and wouldn't move until they tell me everything.
And don't get me started on the romance. I pleaded to the high heavens that there wouldn't be a love triangle but, alas, I got ear wax as a flavor of Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans instead of toffee. That first-guy-mentioned-he's-the-one I always stand by didn't take for me here. I didn't like Jesse that much and wanted Penelope to just move on. Are you masochistic? Then Church entered the picture and I was like This is the guy! She's attracted to him but she's still hung up on Jesse. But I loved it when Church said that they won't start anything, he wouldn't make a move, not until he's sure, that Penn's sure that she could give all her heart to him. Aaaahhhhh....
I may have wailed a lot about Black Five but angst aside, I did enjoy reading it. There is an established mythos for the story and while I got a glimpse of (and a little info-dumping) the setting and background, there is much to explore about Nighmerianotte. Plus the hint that the villain is not evil for the sake of just having the opportunity to say "Bwahahahaha! I will kill you and conquer everything!" I like it when I leave a book (in a series) with questions because it makes me want to read the next book to find answers.