Author: Rachel Vincent
Series: Soul Screamers #1
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Date Published: August 1, 2009
Genre: Paranormal (YA)
She doesn't see dead people. She senses when someone near her is about to die. And when that happens, a force beyond her control compels her to scream bloody murder. Literally. Kaylee just wants to enjoy having caught the attention of the hottest guy in school. But a normal date is hard to come by when Nash seems to know more about her need to scream than she does. And when classmates start dropping dead for no apparent reason, only Kaylee knows who'll be next.
First of all, I have to give MAD props to the cover designer of this series. The model's pose, so close to dancing but in a slightly frantic, pained way is absolutely gorgeous. The swirls of mist surrounding her in what could be an embrace or to capture her. There's just something magical, beautiful, and slightly eerie that does a wonderful job of showing the reader exactly what mood to expect when you dive into this book. Definitely a book to judge by it's cover and I love this one.
Alright, cover art fan-girling aside, I know that I'm WAY late to the Soul Screamers hype. You are all probably rolling your eyes thinking, "been there, read that, got the author to sign it"...well if that's the case my friend feel free to wander away for a while. I will be squealing and raving about this book for a good long time and you can either grin and bear it or go find someone who's more on top of the genre than apparently I am...I just couldn't let this book go without a review. It was too fabulous! There are some books that just blow you away when you read them and this was one of them. I think it (and the rest of the series) deserve the spotlight as much as possible to keep new readers interested. So there.
As someone who reads MASSIVE amounts of paranormal books, I can't tell you how unbelievably refreshing it was to have a completely new "monster" to focus on in this series. You can't do a cartwheel in a bookstore without knocking 56 vampire books off the shelves (but seriously don't do a cartwheel in a bookstore. I would be offended for the books' sake and punch you out). The same thing applies for werewolves, fairies, angels and now zombies. So it is always really great to find an author or a series who branches out and explores the nuances of a less popular monster and creates a really great story out of it. But seriously, why has no one ever thought of doing banshees before? There is so much paranormal GOLD in banshees. To be honest I only knew the myth that banshee's were women who lost their lovers and were so overcome by grief that the just screamed for eternity. The only reference I've ever seen for them is Seamus Finnigan's boggart in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban so I loved the originality and creativity revolving around My Soul To Take's premise.
Vincent's banshees aren't really monsters, more heralds of death, and in this case they originate in the Celtic mythology of bean sidhe (pronounced banshees). These fey-esk women would scream when someone around them was close to death. Depending on the myth or legend you look at, sometimes they scream when in close proximity, sometimes they scream at the moment of death, and sometimes they just indicate who is the next to die but not when. This inclusion of a back story and history into the book was where it truly hooked me and made me start to obsessively read. I absolutely LOVE IT when the author has done their homework. It's not enough for me when the author just says that a creature exists because they said so, they need to show me proof (to a certain extent) that this creature hypothetically COULD exist, and it's even more believable when they have a history or mythology to back them up. In Vincent's incarnation of bean sidhe's she adds a whole new spin that wasn't involved in the myth. The male bean sidhe. I don't want to give too much away, but let's just say there is a lot of complexity and thought put into their creation and they add a ton of awesome to the story!
Kaylee is my kind of heroine. I sometimes have trouble identifying with the "good as gold" female leads in a lot of books. Sure they are to be respected and admired because they can tell right from wrong and always seem to do what is right, legal, and good. But that's not realistic. I'll tell you what is though...teens sneaking into bars underage and drinking and partying until dawn. From page one you can tell that Kaylee isn't an innocent do-gooder, as the opening scene shows her and a friend sneaking into a club and drinking. At the same time, she's not crazy or slutty like a lot of the girls there and even at times her best friend Emma. Instead, she acts like a normal teenage girl with crazy tendencies to break the rules, but in no way wants to hurt anyone. Kaylee also has this strength about her that I admire. She has to put up with a lot of crap from her family and I know I wouldn't have been able to deal as well as she did. I really enjoyed being inside of her head and had no trouble liking her as a person.
Nash and Kaylee are cute. I did think that this book fell into a few of the YA cliches of having a really quick "soul-mate" romance that developed out of basically nowhere with the typical hot popular guy who sleeps with everyone until the heroine comes along and tames him, but because I liked Nash (and his name) I was willing to overlook the whole "we're destined for each other!" Blah, Blah, star crossed lovers thing. I mean, when one member of a species has a power that can only be contained with the help from a member of the opposite sex of the species it's going to cause a little "we're meant for each other" thinking, particularly in the minds of teenagers. I had never heard of male banshees before and I think it added that newness and creativity that keeps readers devouring the story like a pizza in a room of starving college kids.
The plot was pretty great in my opinion. It wasn't terribly complex, but it was compelling and there was a lot of mystery, tension, and fascinating characters to get caught up in. Vincent's writing style was very easy to just slip right inside the story and experience it. I had no problem creating that video in my head and I would find myself spending hours reading when I had only meant to sit down for twenty minutes or so. I loved the final scenes where everything comes together. I was literally gripping the pages with white knuckles, sitting on the edge of my couch with wide eyes. When I finally came back to the here and now my mom and boy-toy were both staring at me and laughing because apparently I looked like I was having an aneurysm or something. I didn't expect the villain to turn out to be who it was and I loved that all the characters finally came together in one place and we got to see everyone and their mom interaction with one another. A truly great ending to a fabulous book!
I give a definite 4 Keys to My Soul To Take. It was very enjoyable, the characters were fun and likable, and the plot was definitely something that keeps you entangled in the story for the entire time you're reading it. I've already requested the next three books in the series at the library and have the full intentions of just reading through the entire thing because I'm totally hooked on the story and the plot. This is the kind of series that you just adore and want to visit over and over again. I am very nearly about to order them all off amazon anyways so that I have them on my keeper shelf. If you're one of the readers that have put this series off because of the hype or because you don't have enough time, try to bump it to the top of your pile. It is worth the read for sure!