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on Sep. 25, 2013 :
She’s the girl who lost her parents. She’s the victim of a horrifying crime. She feels like everyone’s staring at her in school. And she’s trying to pick up the pieces of her life.
Author Fran Veal creates a very believable wounded protagonist in the narrator of her young adult novel, Finding my Escape. Hannah’s voice is bright and convincing, without that inner whine of so many first-person teen-girl novels. Descriptions are crisp and clear with appropriate analogies. Hints of fantasy appear perfectly naturally in the dreams of a girl who’s suffered a blow to the head. And mysteries grow with nearly perfect timing.
The romance is well-drawn and well-timed too, as Hannah comes of age and the friend of a lifetime proves to have grown and changed. But a killer is still chasing after her, and conversations still disappear into silence as soon as she appears. Who’s hiding what? And why?
This story will keep readers guessing right to the end, and leaves you longing for more. It’s complete, but I want to stand by the watercooler and ask what everyone else thinks—perhaps I should read more reviews, but I’d rather read book 2 and find out more.
Disclosure: I got lucky and was given an ecopy.
(reviewed long after purchase)
on Jan. 02, 2013 :
17-year-old Hannah has suffered, and survived, a horrific trauma; a home invasion in which her parents were murdered. All that's left to Hannah are menmories, some scrap books, and a mysterious box. Hannah goes to live with her aunt in Tennessee, while her best guy-friend is moving to North Carolina. Now Hannah is suffering from life-like dreams where a hot, angelic guy likes her...except that these dreams appear to be following her into the daylight. And her nightmare follows her to Tennessee.
There are some very clever twists to this story. Looking back, there are subtle clues right from the beginning that heralds the ending twist. I like twists. Twists are almost as good as pretzels. I would take a few savvy book twists over pretzels any day of the week.
But, while this pretzel of a book flexed and twisted its plot...the dough-making process prior to baking didn't quite rise.
I felt like I was being told a story. I wasn't immersed. There was no emotion to draw from, other than what we were told the characters were feeling. This made the story read slightly flat. There was romance, but I didn't feel any cockle-warming...there was nothing to generate heat or friction.
Some plot points were a litrle weak. For example, we never quite know what her parents did for a living that made them an open target for murder...what they actually *do* is never really explained. The reason we're given for the murder has been done, and I'm not sure how her parents came across the information in the first place. Or maybe this was all glossed over quickly enough that I just don't remember.
I would have liked to have gone a little deeper into the characters. While like-able, there's nothing that had me rooting for them. Well, except maybe her best guy-friend, Matt. For some reason I couldn't help rooting for him. And I'm not quite sure what motiviated Jessie, the first friend Hannah makes in Tennesee, especially when she first meets Hannah. I was expecting something...I don't know...sinister maybe? But nothing ever really happened there.
Some of the dialogue didn't quite ring true for me. The transitions had to be kneaded a little more to make 'em smooth; there were some rough spot that caused confusion as to where my place was in the story line. Overall the story had that 'first book' feel to it.
The premise is cool and has a lot of potential. There's a whole other world that needs to be explored...though I'm not sure if Hannah can get back there.
(reviewed long after purchase)
on Feb. 20, 2012 :
Veal's Finding My Escape is an example of the supremely high quality young adult fiction available from self-published authors today. When I finished the book, I was still so intrigued I wanted to turn back to the first page and start reading again. There are many different twists in the novel and even when I was sure I knew what was coming, it turned out I was wrong. Veal created very likeable characters and pieced together their story in a way that keeps the reader engaged and wishing for more.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)
on Jan. 09, 2012 :
Imagine my apathy while I was about to read and review another work of YA fiction. Troubled teenager unexpectedly cast into an unusual situation? Yawn! Another Paranormal Genre novel? Seems that everyone out there thinks they can write in that genre; I got thousands of'em in my TBR pile.
As I was dragging myself to pick a copy of "Finding my Escape" and start reading it, an inner voice said: "Hey, tackle this book! It starts a bit gruesome, I give it that… You know, as a writer, you are also eager for someone else to give your own books a fair chance."
Well, so I began reading this book.
It started somewhat gruesome, alright. Hannah, a teenaged girl walks in on the murder of her mother by a cold-blooded killer, who's after an electronic chip that Hannah's parents had developed for the government. She runs away and bumps her head.
Excellent beginning. Intriguing.
Of course, she predictably lost all recalling of her parents' murder, and moves in with her aunt after a short stay in the hospital. Hannah actually goes to a shrink to help her deal with this horrid event in her life, and here's where the plot presently kicks in.
And I mean: KICK IN. Hannah is suddenly able to enter an alternate, dreamlike reality and, after a few more pages, we're totally unable to distinguish what's real and what's not. The author has achieved a master stroke here, being able to move from reality to the dream world with some very smooth transitions. Paint me green with envy; it makes me wonder if Fran Veal has read any Phillip K. Dick's books.
From that point onward, I was unable to put down the book.
And the end of this book had the sort of little nasty twist that I'll always cherish. Excellent job, Mrs. Veal. I'm eagerly waiting to read some more of your work.
Go ahead: give this book a try.
(reviewed within a week of purchase)
on Sep. 14, 2011 :
One word I could only muster after reading Fran Veal’s Finding My Escape, ‘Brilliant!’. Reading this book was a whole new intriguing experience; it was like watching a young adult version of ‘The Bourne Identity’, only with added romance and puzzling twists. Plus, I loved how the cover art quite precisely goes along with the story inside.
Overall, I thought this series (yes, it has a sequel!) deserve to be in someone’s must-read list, including mine. The ending will definitely give you a complete surprise. I can’t wait for the release and I so look forward to reading more of Fran Veal’s books.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)