The Holders, by Julianna Scott

  • TITLE: The Holders
  • AUTHOR: Julianna Scott
  • PUBLISHER: Strange Chemistry
  • PUBLICATION DATE: 7th March 2013 (UK)

TheHolders-144dpiJulianna Scott’s The Holders is another of those “we have special powers; everyone else does not” kind of books. In a sense it is similar in ethos to Kim Curran’s Shift.

Except that it’s not. For once (yay!) there is an ancient feel and plot behind the powers and the organisation from which these Holders are from. It feels old and powerful instead of just another pseudo-superpower story. I liked that about The Holders. It’s not just, say, Irish X-Men.

There were things I did not like.

I found Becca awkward at times and her American-ness in Ireland seemed overdone. In places, also, it felt that Scott tried too hard to be amusing–or maybe that’s just me. None of it seemed necessary and it added nothing to the story, only an awkwardness to the narrative. It seemed only to lessen Becca’s character. At least for me, but maybe it would help others warm to her. We’re all different.

Aside from a few teeny niggles, though, I found Becca enjoyable and engaging. I would have liked to have seen a story about siblings with less of an age gap, but that’s not the story Scott set out to tell. It’s just a preference and that’s another book. The Holders tells the story of Becca and Ryland.

To Scott’s credit, Ryland is a pleasant enough character. He is well written and fits in with the character of his sister. Still, the limelight is all on Becca and that’s what matters.

Becca and Ryland have always been aware that Ryland is different: he hears voices and since she can remember, Becca has been there to stand guard against “special institutions” and “getting Ryland help”. Sometimes it feels like a one-woman battle as their mum is content to nod and smile and listen to the counsellors and shrinks before sending them packing. Becca is not and soon her method was simply to boot them out the front door.

She thinks it will be no different when a pair of men turn up offering Ryland yet another school. But there is something different about these two and thought Becca doesn’t want to listen, doesn’t want to consider that Ryland might be better off somewhere that’s not with her, she begins to understand that the school in Ireland might just be for the best.

There’s only one thing for it then: Becca is going with him. They journey to Ireland and Becca learns that the father who ran out of them when she was young is the headmaster, which makes her second-guess whether the trip is for the best. But when Ryland settles in well, Ryland who has never had any friends or has never been happy, Becca knows she’s being selfish wanting to leave.

Or is she?

Something is not right in how the teachers talk about Ryland and with the new knowledge of Ryland’s talents and the truth about his gifts, Becca is on her guard and begins to wonder who she can trust and if she can trust their father at all.  Despite Becca’s assumptions, something unexpected is about to happen and it will change her and Ryland’s life forever.

Though The Holders is a fun and exciting story, it felt very obvious in places. The plot thickens halfway through but I found it easy to predict and this somewhat lessened the shine.

Despite all that, I found Alex an engaging enough character and enjoyed his rapport with Becca. I liked how Scott portrayed their relationship. Whatever people say about romance in YA (or anything for that matter), I enjoy it. Whether it’s a female (most commonly…) lead and I get to paint myself as the guy she gets with, or vice versa with a male lead and his love interest, it’s fun to watch relationships form and evolve. Well I think so anyway. Love is awesome, guys. True fact.

The Holders has a lot to offer. From hidden powers and family secrets, to trying to make your own way through the world, there is something to engage all readers. I was excited about this book and overall I was not disappointed. It is fun and, though not as entertaining or gripping as its Strange Chemistry siblings, it made for an excellent bit of mystery and adventure. The way is paved for an exciting series and Scott has much to offer.

I’m not sure what exactly made me give this book three-and-a-half stars. It just didn’t hit the spot to rank as a full four when compared to other titles I’ve read. It felt a little flat at times and too obvious. It was a good book and I enjoyed it, but I felt ultimately underwhelmed by the end.

I’d still like to read more from Scott and the wider plot of The Holders has more than a little piqued my interest. The story still has a long way to go and I would like to see more action and adventure, or more mystery and intrigue as Becca’s story unfolds.

Overall, I did enjoy this book, but I think I was expecting a little more pizzazz.

3.5/5

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