Author: Laura Bickle
Genre: YA, Apocalyptic, Paranormal
Publication Date: September 25, 2012 (HMH – North America)
Source: Publisher-provided ARC
Summary: Katie is on the verge of her Rumspringa, the time in Amish life when teenagers can get a taste of the real world. But the real world comes to her in this dystopian tale with a philosophical bent. Rumors of massive unrest on the “Outside” abound. Something murderous is out there. Amish elders make a rule: No one goes outside, and no outsiders come in. But when Katie finds a gravely injured young man, she can’t leave him to die. She smuggles him into her family’s barn—at what cost to her community?
☆: 4.5/5 stars – an absolutely awesome debut! I definitely want more!
Review: Can I just have the next book now? Yes, “The Hallowed Ones” is a really addictive read – so much so that by the time I finished the last page, all I wanted was more. So many of what have come to be traditional YA tropes aren’t in this book, and it was generally a breath of fresh air in a stagnant paranormal market. If you want something new, terrifying, and refreshing, “The Hallowed Ones” is definitely the book for you.
This book is the second YA book I’ve read this year with the Amish involved that’s been published by the big six – and that’s pretty awesome. The first (“A World Away”) was a contemporary tale of rumspringa, the time when Amish teenagers are let loose into the world in order to decide, once they’ve dealt with both worlds, whether or not they want to be baptized into the Amish church. In this tale, we’re completely absorbed into the world of the “Plain Folk” during what is literally the end of the world. Any thoughts of rumspringa are totally thrown out of the window, and the gates to Katie’s world are literally shut tight against the evil of the English (read: non-Amish) world. The Amish are a fascinating people – they don’t quite speak German (it’s more of a dialect) when they say their prayers, and their rituals and culture are generally so different that whenever these people are brought into any kind of lit (but especially YA) lit, I find that I can’t tear myself away.
And you know what? For this book, the largely insular ways of the Amish world totally work, and it makes everything feel that much more believable. With a virus reminscent of the one in Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s “The Strain” trilogy and of Justin Cronin’s “The Passage” trilogy, there are suddenly vampires, vampires everywhere! And the fallout – with the loss of rumspringa, to the abuse of power of the Elders and people who Katie thought were friends, to the literal fall of the English world, all of it strikes hard at the heart. Needless to say, the worldbuilding is fantastic – while I can’t vouch for the validity of the Amish community portrayed, all I know is that it’s a fantastically built world, and one that completely sucked me in. The characters, even the ones from the English world, and the vampires all knit back into this haven for the Plain folk. It’s dark, it’s luminous, it’s seductive, and it’s apocalyptic.
The characters: I loved them all. Even Elijah, jackass that he was. I loved the individual character arcs they all got, no matter how small the character was within the general main cast, and I loved the change that I got at the end of the book within all of the characters involved. They felt very well rounded and very real, even the siren-like vampires at the end of things.
The romance: There’s a sort-of love triangle, but it’s more of a one-sided thing with Elijah as he continues to become more and more controlling. I loved the romance between Alex and Katie – it felt very natural, and even though it sped up a bit too fast towards the end of the book, it still felt real (considering the circumstances). It was light and buoyant, yet at the same time, desperate with that need you feel when you might die after all. I love the way Bickle handled all romance angles – especially when she made Katie jealous, that made Katie feel especially real – to the point where this doesn’t feel like this is her debut novel. Ridiculously talented.
Final verdict? If you love happy bacteria, vampires, and apocalyptic scenarios, you really, really can’t miss this release. “The Hallowed Ones” is out today from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in North America, so be sure to check it out. Its place on my best of 2012 list is well deserved, and there better be a sequel coming, or I will cry.