Author: Gina Rosati
Genre: YA, paranormal, mystery, romance
Publication Date: August 8, 2012 (Roaring Brook/Macmillan – North America)
Source: Author-provided review copy
Summary: 16 year old Anna Rogan has a secret she’s only shared with her best friend, Rei; she can astrally project out of her body, allowing her spirit to explore the world and the far reaches of the universe.
When there’s a fatal accident and her classmate Taylor takes over Anna’s body, what was an exhilarating distraction from her repressive home life threatens to become a permanent state. Faced with a future trapped in another dimension, Anna turns to Rei for help. Now the two of them must find a way to get Anna back into her body and stop Taylor from accusing an innocent friend of murder. Together Anna and Rei form a plan but it doesn’t take into account the deeper feelings that are beginning to grow between them.
☆: 4/5 stars – a great murder mystery with a delicious paranormal twist!
Review: This was a delightful treat of a novel. We don’t get much on astral projection in YA, so it was nice to get something in the paranormal realm that isn’t something we’ve dealt with repeatedly. “Auracle” is tackles many sub-genres and topics in its material, so I think almost everyone will find something that they’ll like about it. I know I did.
What was great about this book, and what really shone was the worldbuilding, and to a bit of a lesser of extent, the character building. The world felt very real and believable, as did the characters. With using the explanation of the practice of Reiki and other new-age medicinal ideas and practices including astral projection, Rosati builds an awesome world where if you’re able, you can eject out of your body at will like Anna, and if you’re like Taylor, snatch that empty shell and lead a life that would scare even the boldest of those from “Body Snatchers”. While there were a few extra dangling questions I did have about the world itself as far as its rules and how it worked, for the most part, I was really satisfied with how well and sturdily it was built.
The characters were also great, and pretty much everyone also felt real in that arena, as well. The only character that I didn’t feel felt real enough was Seth – and this was kind of important as he’s the lynch pin that starts the whole domino effect with the plot. Seth, for the short time that we get him, feels real. But considering the plot centers so much around the race against to clock to make sure he’s not charged with Taylor’s murder – well, we saw him so sparsely throughout the story that I feel like he needed to be there a bit more. I don’t know whether this is just a character-building problem or a plot integration problem, or a combination of the two (probably a combination), but I feel like that needed to be remedied a bit. Even though this is mostly Anna’s story of her race to save Seth, Seth helps really kick off the plot and the individual character arcs that go with that plot. And I didn’t feel like Seth got much of an individual character arc like Rei, Anna, and Taylor did, and I felt like he got a bit shafted there, considering how high the stakes are for him if he can’t prove he’s innocent. That aside, the character cast was nicely varied and otherwise flowed pretty well. And the racial/ethnic diversity (which seems to be so rare in YA as whole) was muchly appreciated.
Also, the internal worldbuilding (where Anna goes when she projects) was fabulously developed. Internal worldbuilding is so very rare in any genre, be it in adult or YA lit, so that was definitely refreshing and aweosme to read.
One moral issue I did have with the character construction of Taylor was that of how she was constantly described as a sexualized creature, and only until she becomes more human after she steals Anna’s body, do we see a lessening of that and see her more as a girl, a real person in the emotional/internal arena. It felt a bit like slut-shaming to me, especially when we learn about her past before moving to Rei, Anna, and Seth’s school. While this wasn’t enough to put me off of the book (the astral projection and body snatching more than made up for this on my end), it still left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. I can see why fellow reviewers were put off of the book on this point alone.
That one moral tidbit aside, I really enjoyed “Auracle”, and I think a lot of those who enjoy paranormal YA lit who are tired of the same old paranormal topics will find this book a breath of fresh air. The romance, too, is slow-burning and felt very, very natural. And no love triangle to boot! AWESOME.
“Auracle” is out from Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan in North America on August 8, 2012, so be sure to check it out then! And be sure to check out my interview with the author later this month on the blog.