Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Book Rec: Perilous by Tamara Hart Heiner

YA covers such a fascinatingly wide range, from paranormal romance to historical to sci-fi, but Tamara Hart Heiner's debut novel Perilous is something I haven't seen before: classic suspense for the YA crowd. Before I get into my review, here's the blurb for the back cover:
Jaci Rivera has plans for her sophomore year: go to regionals with the track team, make the honor roll, and eat too much pizza with her best friends, Callie and Sara. Her biggest concern is Amanda, the pushy girl who moved in a few months ago. What she doesn't plan for is catching a robber red-handed, or being kidnapped. The desperate thief drags her and her friends 2,000 miles across the Canadian border. They escape from his lair, only to find that he has spies and agents watching their path home, waiting to intercept them and take them back. Then Jaci finds something out about her family. Something which irrevocably connects her to their kidnapper, and makes her question their chances of escape.
Four girls go to the mall. They have a few little mishaps, and end up witnessing a robbery and being kidnapped - and Tamara Hart Heiner makes it believable. I was impressed with her ability to take somewhat crazy situations and convince you that a couple of fifteen- and fourteen-year-old girls can end up kidnapped, escaping, and trekking hundreds of miles through the woods to get home.  The characterization of Jaci and her friends was spot-on and convincing. 
What struck me most about this book, though, was the pace and tension. From the shocking first chapter on, it's hard to pull your head out of this book. For me, it was almost too much at times - I wanted the girls to find a safe place and trustworthy people, but their paranoia quickly becomes yours, and it was hard to breathe at times. I was definitely invested in these characters, especially Tamara quickly demonstrates she isn't so attached to her characters as to guarantee a perfectly happy ending! When the ending does come, though (and I finally got to breathe a little easier!) it's satisfying, while leaving some subplots open. Can we expect a sequel, Tamara? (I'll read it!)
Overall, this was a different read, but I really liked it. I thought it was interesting that there's actually an adult perspective in the book - the detective who is searching for the girls - but he and the girls never actually intersect. I thought that was an unusual and risky move for a YA novel. My minimal nitpicks? I thought there were a few HUGE coincidences that occured throughout the book, but Tamara laid the seeds for those so well that I was able to pretty much suspend my disbelief. The tone of the novel is a little formal (which I think is pretty common in debut novels) and serious (which is understandable, given the events and tension of the story) for my preferences, but Tamara's prose is clear and competent - I think her writing can only get better as time goes on.  And, since I have a few questions about what happens to the girls next, I'm hoping to see a follow-up ASAP!
Definitely recommended for all fans of YA and suspense. Be sure to check out Perilous on Amazon - and I'll even give you a $10 gift certificate for Amazon if you'll learn just a little more about Perilous and Tamara Hart Heiner.


Kittie Howard said...

You've really written a super review (it has energy!) I sensed a bit of Nancy Drew in the plot and a bit of Daniel Silva in the way the book zips along, all very positive (in my book)!

Old Kitty said...

This is a really fab review - honest and fair - and makes me want to read the book too!!

Good luck to Tamara Hart Heiner and her debut novel!!

Take care

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

Thank you so much, Gwinevere!

Everyone seems to be afraid of the $10 contest. It's easy! You find the answers on my blog!

Rachelle said...

Great review and fun contest. It was fun to read more about Tamara. :)

Janet Johnson said...

Sounds like an interesting book. I wondered about the believablity after reading the blurb, so I appreciate that you responded to that question first. Apparently I wasn't the only one with those thoughts. :)

Great review!

Melissa said...

Suspense in YA! This *is* exciting. This is one of the best reviews for a book that I've ever seen. You didn't spoil anything but painted a vivid picture for me on what this book is about.

Definitely going on my TBR list.

Thanks for stopping by my blog! I'm glad you did because now I've found you too!

Christina Lee said...

What a great review and yes to an interesting premise!

Ashley Stone said...

interesting, I've never heard of that book. I will have to check it out next time I'm at the bookstore. Thanks!

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

@Ashley--it doesn't come out until Nov. 16, and then I'm not sure which bookstores will carry it. Borders will carry it if the book signing goes well. Barnes and Noble will carry it regionally. But it is definitely available online!

Christy said...

Nicely written review! I am with you on some of the unbeleivable scenes, but enjoyed the story notwithstanding. Thanks for the contest!