Bites

Published August 1, 2010.

When her younger sister dies, 16-year-old Loa’s clockwork galaxy collapses. As she spins off on her own, Loa’s mind ambushes her with vivid nightmares and sadistic flashbacks a textbook case of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. But there are no textbook fixes for Loa’s short-circuiting brain. If she keeps her eyes open and her neurons busy, there’s less chance for her imagination to brew up nightmares and panic attacks. Maybe then she’ll be able to pry her world from the clutches of death. (goodreads.com)

Carolrhoda Lab for the win yet again! Seriously, I’ve been on top of this inprint since they debuted with DRAW THE DARK and TRAITOR and they’ve yet to publish anything even remotely resembling a word turd. Their books are so rich and deep that you just get sucked right in and you don’t even realize you were under water until you emerge breathless. THE FREAK OBSERVER is no exception.
Now this is literary YA that I can sink my teeth into. It’s succinct but vibrant. Loa doesn’t pity herself even though she is probably someone that should. The story is relatively plotless, with Asta’s death happening before the story even starts. When you first enter, you’re walking into Loa’s shit storm of a life without an umbrella and you can feel every ping and fleck of poo as it hurls at her.
The main antagonist is someone that exists only in Loa’s mind, The Bony Guy. Death. He’s always there, haunting her, keeping her alone in life. And her loneliness is tangible. Her parents don’t see her as their child but as a burden, especially when she falls out of line, like getting hit by a car. Such a bad kid. Her only friend moves away but she finds something out about him that makes her doubt the relationship for most of the book. Her little brother is kept at a distance by her parents, as if they’re afraid he’ll catch something from her. This girl leads such a loveless, lonely life that you can’t help but feel for her.
The good thing (as if there’s only one) is that Woolston doesn’t drag the drama out for hundreds upon hundreds of pages. The story is poignant, telling the parts that need to be told for Loa’s mind to get from point A to point B and then it’s done. And it’s marvelous. It’s literary without the heinous, door stopper fat.
If you’re jonsing for a phenomenal character-driven story that’s low on plot but amped up with a multi-faceted character whose crutch is physics because it’s the only dependable constant in her life, you’ll love THE FREAK OBSERVER. I feel like all I’m doing is expounding on the fangirlishness with this review but it is that level of amazing. It’s a character study with a glimmer of hope at the end. It’s near hopeless but not quite. Loa is one of the most amazing characters I’ve seen and to have gone through everything that she has, it’s a miracle she’s not in the fetal position sucking her thumb by the end of the story. No. At the end she’s standing up straighter than at the beginning. And for that she’s all the more amazing.


Ban Factor: High – It’s chock full of swearing and some sexual scenarios, not to mention the craptastic home life the MC has. Book banners would pee themselves with this one.

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