I received this book for free via a coupon from Susan Bischoff. The one condition of the coupon was that I agreed to review the book.
I don't think I'm a part of this book's target audience. What I mean by that is this--Hush Money will be popular with its target audience. However, the book didn't work for me. I'm a 34 year-old doctoral student working on a dissertation on 19th-century British Gothic fiction, so my standards are a little different from most of the people who will read this book.
Hush Money alternates between two first person narrators, Joss and Dylan. The story is set in an alternate modern country--unnamed, but probably the U.S. Things are different in this society because a portion of the population has been identified as having "Talents," similar to those of the mutants in the X-Men comics. The government has declared that it has the right to police and train these Talents so that they don't endanger others, creating a state of fear in the population. When teenagers disappear, everyone knows they've been taken by the NIAC, the secretive Talent police.
Joss is much like other YA heroines. She's quiet and friendless, trying not to get noticed. She's got a Talent of her own, and she doesn't want to get caught. However, she's had a crush on Dylan for ages, even though he hangs with the despicable Marco. Marco has been bullying Joss for years, all because she refused to date him. As these kids try to navigate the usual minefield of adolescent relationships, their Talents and their fears make their lives even more difficult.
This book is the first in a projected series, published as low-cost ebooks. The low cost will be attractive to teens and preteens, the presumed audience of this book, but their limited access to ebook readers may cause problems. The book was extraordinarily short, roughly 150 pages. Since the book itself is only $.99, that doesn't seem like a big problem. This reminds me of the sort of series books that I read as an early teen, so I can easily see it finding an audience.
Bishoff's world of Talents is fairly unique, although it does have a strong connection to the X-Men, as I noted above. Her writing is solid, and the plight of the characters seemed real. They were justifiably afraid, and Bischoff does a good job of creating tension. What she does next with the series will determine just how good it's going to be. It's off to a decent start here.
If you like this sort of book, I'd also recommend Holly Black's The White Cat (Curse Workers, #1).