Author: Suzanne Young
Genre: YA, paranormal, romance, urban fantasy
Publication Date: June 21, 2011 (first printing)/May 22, 2012 (paperback – North America – HarperTeen)
Source: Publisher copy
Summary: We all want to be remembered. Charlotte’s destiny is to be forgotten.
Charlotte’s best friend thinks Charlotte might be psychic. Her boyfriend thinks she’s cheating on him. But Charlotte knows what’s really wrong: She is one of the Forgotten, a kind of angel on earth who feels the Need–a powerful, uncontrollable draw to help someone, usually a stranger.
But Charlotte never wanted this responsibility, and as the Need grows stronger, it begins to take a dangerous toll on her. And who she is–her very existence–is in jeopardy of disappearing completely.
Charlotte will be forced to choose: should she embrace her fate as a Forgotten, a fate that promises to rip her from the lives of those she loves forever? Or is she willing to fight against her destiny–no matter how dark the consequences?
☆: 4.5/5 stars – one of my picks for best of 2011, and a lovely new way at looking at angels!
Review: In a sea of YA angel books, this is a refreshing, dazzling gem of a story that left me needing (no pun intended) the next book in the series. The idea of light versus shadows has always intrigued me, and Young weaves a gorgeous story of a girl trying to decide whether she should survive and be remembered, or sacrifice herself for others only to be forgotten. This was one of my picks for my best of 2011 list, and it still stands as thus.
I think the only issue I had with the book was Harlin – while it was SO nice to not have insta-love going on, I thought that Charlotte hung onto him as her reason for not properly going into the light and taking her place among the Forgotten for good. That annoyed me a bit, because she was otherwise a very independent (yet kind) heroine. I never really like it when this happens in a YA book – it kind of sends the message (though this book isn’t as bad as some as the others, I will concede) that in order to survive, Charlotte really NEEDS Harlin as her reason. Not Sarah, her best friend, or Mercy, her foster mother, or even Monroe, her Seer/Doctor. It’s the boyfriend, when it really should be all of the above.
However, the style of prose and the worldbuilding really made up for that in my book.
Aside from that, the world that Young paints is absolutely lush and gorgeous, yet dark and sinister at the same time. Her use of sensory imagery and language is some of the best I’ve seen in YA in a long while, and I don’t think I say that too often. She weaves us the story of the Shadows versus the Light, the Forgotten versus the Shadows, and how the Forgotten pretty much bear all of their Needs’ pain only to be repaid by being, well, forgotten when they’re at the end of their life cycle. I loved this idea of having an angelic creature have the life cycle of a star, and having to literally explode into light when they “die”, just as I loved the idea of Shadows growing ugly and zombified when they “ate” light in order to survive.
At the end of the day, though, this story is about two things: self-sacrifice and the cost of survival. Is it worth it to help others, only for them to not only not thank you, but forget you? And is it worth it to survive, only to become a monster? These themes are very active with vibrating tension between them on nearly every single page of this book, and that’s hard to do. Props to Young for being able to do so.
Final verdict? This DEFINITELY deserves the read, whether or not you’re into angel books or magical realism. It made my best of 2011 list, and my re-read of it in 2012 just reinforces that. Thanks to HarperTeen for sending me a finished copy to refresh my memory. The paperback of “A Need So Beautiful” is out now from HarperTeen in North America, and the second book in the series, “A Want So Wicked” is also available through HarperTeen in North America, too. HIGHLY recommended, guys, so be sure to check them both out whenever you can!