Harbinger by Sara Wilson Etienne

HarbingerAs I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve read a few awful fantasies lately, including Harbinger by Sara Wilson Etienne. The cover was weird, but intriguing, and I was running out of appealing options in the library. (Note: If none of this review is coherent, I blame the incoherence of the book itself.)

Faye has suffered from hallucinations and nightmares for years. Friendless, she seeks comfort in the bones of deceased animals – a pastime once discovered by her parents that leads them to send her away to Holbrook Academy, run by her childhood psychologist Dr. Mordoch. At first, she feels betrayed but soon begins to feel at home on the island and even makes her first friends in her assigned “Family” unit. However, this mental institution is a harsh place, with guards carrying tasers and pepper spray and students being sent to solitary confinement for misdeeds. So when her Family starts experiencing strange incidents, like waking up on their dorm floor with red hands, Faye is certain that something’s up and her visions are at the root of it. She trusts no one to help her find the truth though, not even the handsome Kel, whom she shares a surprising connection with…and who may be trying to kill her.

(Spoilers ahead)

Well, Faye is crazy. You might be able to tell from the synopsis, but she stubbornly refuses to admit there’s anything that weird about herself. I guess it would be upsetting to be abandoned by your parents, but what do you expect when they see your collection of animal skeletons? So it’s not surprising that she’s friendless because she’s completely unlikeable. Apparently this is because of a near-drowning experience when she was a child, so now she has visions. Her fellow “Family” members are not as crazy, more the garden variety juvenile delinquents and the mysterious brooding dude, whom Faye falls instantly in love with for no good reason. They seemed mostly harmless, but also stereotypical.

Even though the school is also nuts, that still didn’t garner any sympathy from me for Faye and the others. Mainly because its existence made zero sense.  It might have helped if there was a good explanation of where or when this book takes place. I think it’s supposed to be a future United States that underwent an energy crisis, but honestly the past is so poorly explained that it’s difficult to tell. Regardless, what’s not explained is how society is just allowing this place to exist beyond a ghost wanting it to and manipulating Dr. Mordoch to be her minion.

Which brings me to the end. I have no clue what happened  – Faye was part of an ancient family that came back and wanted to kill everything but then changed her mind? She was the reincarnation of a statue of an ancient Native American tribe with magical powers? By that point, this world sounded so terrible that drowning it would’ve been a better ending than a nature battle that concludes with Faye absorbing the pollution to save the earth. And then everyone’s just like, we’ll live happily ever after. What?!

I couldn’t even enjoy the mystery element mainly because it makes no freaking sense so it’s not like I could actually solve it. In all honestly, this reminded me of some of the more poorly plotted Christopher Pike or R.L. Stine teen supernatural thrillers. Except now I’m an adult and can’t even blame it on the nostalgia.

1 Star



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