Book Review: Darwin’s Children by Natasha Larry

Details from Amazon:

Book Description

Publication Date: June 8, 2011

Life can get pretty complicated for any seventeen-year-old girl, but for a home-schooled telepathic black girl trying to survive in a prestigious private school in small-town Jonesborough, Tennessee, it can be maddening – especially when her telepathic father keeps eavesdropping on her thoughts! Jaycie Lerner’s family isn’t the usual mom-dad-kid setup. Jaycie’s mom’s MIA, but Allison, her personal live-in ‘trainer,’ is more than a mom, with her own special abilities, like being able to lift cars and run incredibly fast. And Jaycie’s godfather John is more than persuasive – he can literally convince anyone to do anything. As far as the rest of the world’s concerned, Jaycie’s on the outside looking in. The townsfolk love Jaycie’s pediatrician father, but she doesn’t fit in with ‘normal’ kids, and she doesn’t really want to. Most of her free time is spent training to keep her telekinetic and telepathic powers under control. But there’s one thing she can’t control – and that’s her feelings, especially when her best friend Matt is nearby. If only he knew what she was truly capable of… Everything seems to be status quo for Jaycie until she receives a cryptic message from a stranger and meets a very unusual girl new to Jonesborough. Then all hell breaks loose!

 

Product Details

  • Paperback: 260 pages
  • Publisher: Penumbra Publishing (June 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1935563513
  • ISBN-13: 978-1935563518
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,369,228 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Initial Thoughts:

After receiving book 2 as a review copy I figured I would send a few bucks the author’s way and purchased Darwin’s Children Smile. Lately I’ll been reading Ebooks so I bought it from iTunes to read on my iPod.

This was one of the only times I read the second book in a series before I read the first. It meant that some things were spoiled for me but it also meant that I got to see how all the characters I came to love in Unnatural Law started out. Of course I’ll also state that while Tasha and I are e-pals (is that a word? Winking smile), I still give honest reviews of anything she writes.

Also after my very detailed look at each character in book 2 this review may be a little shorter as I have already gone into detail on most characters from UL. With that said I will discuss Haylee and Jaycie more, ‘cause they rule and they do a lot in this book Open-mouthed smile.

What I liked:

As other reviews have pointed out for a young adult book this deals with some very mature concepts (which I appreciated). I have always been fascinated with the study of the dark side of human nature and this book delves into it deeply. The chapter titles are clever and I enjoyed very much the mixture of suspense, action, humour, drama and heart-warming friendships/relationships that are present throughout the novel.

This is an imaginative world full of interesting people with cool powers and fantastical creatures (along with some pretty cool and interesting regular folk as well). Tasha also does a great job making vampires and fairies both enchanting and terrifying at the same time.

As someone who appreciates the darker side of human nature I liked Haylee’s and Jaycie’s fascination with serial killers, cults and the KKK. Even though these groups represent horrible evil/strange behaviour they are very interesting to study. Also as someone who participated in a Jeet Kune Do (JKD) classes for years I was glad to see Jaycie have an interest in it as well.

For now though I’ll talk about my favourite chapters and geeky bits. So consider this a SPOILER ALERT

Chapter 3:

Being a huge geek/nerd in school I easily identified with Jacyie’s feelings of rejection and feeling out of place. I only wish I had powers so I could have taught some of those miserable people a lesson but this isn’t about me Smile . I liked how Jacyie used her powers to get a little revenge on her classmates and only pretended to be upset when they forced her out of the coffee shop.

This was a fun chapter as Jaycie and Allison train and we get to see what they both can do. Allison shooting at Jaycie was a great surprise and I really enjoyed the intensity that was used to describe this scene.

Chapter 6:

Here we get to see one of the only things Jacyie enjoys about school, art and her favourite teacher. I liked this idea as I could relate to having a few subjects I really enjoyed in school (literature class of course) and I did have a favourite teacher that used to give me comic books to read.

Lots of things happen here as Jaycie also gets an explanation of who and what the guardians are (as she had just met one) and we get to met Haylee.

 

Chapter 7:

Haylee is given a full introduction. We meet the young woman who has to live with her horrible mother and doesn’t know at this point that she has the power to makes others literally suffer and burn for their sins (which is first described here). Haylee is so very broken inside, we are given a hint of her terrible secret and see that she needs the help of a true friend.

Chapter 8:

Jaycie is given a good explanation of vampires, werewolves and slayers by Mason. I like how vampires have a different spin compared to most books (they live as humans for a time and then “die” to become undead). They are also born and can only be made by a female. Vampires taking out death-row inmates is also a clever idea and making slayers undead as well was also a nice twist.

Chapter 11:

Here we get to see again how terrible Haylee’s home life is with her pathetic, hateful mother and see what her powers can do. The scene where Haylee accidently finds a child molester/murderer and burns him to death is very intense, exciting and disturbing. I agree with Tasha that’s it’s hard to think of something more evil than harming children. This is a nice twist to the story as now the reader knows something that Jaycie doesn’t and we know that Haylee will have to turn to her for help.

Chapter 12:

Some great geeky references here. Who didn’t love the “Thriller” video? (I love the whole album Smile). And Fight Club? Fantastic movie. As if that wasn’t enough Jaycie gets to show off how useful her telepathic/telekinetic powers can be when she stops a would-be killer dressed as Zorro at the the Halloween party. (The fact that I played Zorro in a RPG also helped my enjoyment Smile)

Chapter 15:

Lots of thing happening here. I enjoyed how Jaycie once more uses her power to put a murderer at her school behind bars. We also are given an explanation of Haylee’s powers, a reference to a classic horror movie Saw (though I thought 2 and 3 were much too gory). The Dey-Vah and the guardians are also explained in this chapter along with nice reference to one of my favourite Beatles songs “Let it Be”.

Chapter 22:

Haylee’s secret, the rape by 3 men while her father watches, is hard to read but that’s a good thing. It is not written with gory details but gives all the emotional impact and I love it when Jaycie get’s really pissed off Smile.

Chapter 23:

A very exciting chapter and as Jacyie literally brings the house down to get Haylee’s dad and still amusing as she does it in her pyjamas. I love how Jacyie’s eyes change when her power really kicks in high gear and she takes on the appearance of an avenging angel, very cool.

Of course I have to mention the trip to the Gray house. I do love vampires and I thought the description of a very rich, cultured household full of vicious, yet very controlled, vampires was well done and fun to read. Vampire bat

I liked how Jaycie has to have proper etiquette dealing with the family and how her Dad sends her mental instructions to help.

Chapter 24:

Haylee’s dad is killed and she literally confronts him and her demons at the same time. This is another well written scene that was satisfying to read and balanced well with the humour that followed as the family has supper with vampires in a sunroom (nice touch Winking smile).

Dislikes:

As with Unnatural Law I found all the relationship/unrequited love with Matt and Jaycie a little slow at times. As I said in my review for UL this may be due to the fact that I just have a hard time relating to it. I never had a female friend that I dated, most of my friends are guys but I can at least relate to some of the frustration Matt goes through with Jacyie, she is a mysterious woman (like all women are Winking smile).

I think the last chapter should have been 29 (followed by the epilogue). After Jacyie is mentally put back in place and fairy blood has been put down her throat this would have been a great cliff-hanger. Chapter’s 30 and 31 are good I just think they could have been used to start off book 2 and make this book just a little long.

Finally I’ll also say that I think the word “plop” is overused a little. It’s not that I have anything against it I just can’t help but notice repetition in any book.

Final Thoughts:

I would recommend this book highly Thumbs up. It is full of great characters, action, fantastical creatures, cool powers and some truly touching moments. Tasha has created a great world that is fun to explore and never takes itself too seriously.

I do think though that reading book 2 before 1 is a mistake. It meant that I knew that Haylee would show up and what her powers where. I knew the Jaycie would have her surge and I knew that Matt was the missing link the Guardians spoke about.

Once again a strong 8/10 from me. Anyone who enjoys Young-Adult fiction or generally any Sci-fi/fantasy/horror fan such as myself should really do themselves a favour and pick up the $2.99 Kindle version. I eagerly anticipate book 3 in the series and I look forward to Matt one day donning the Batman costume Winking smile.

 

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5 Comments

  1. Great review Charles, thank you!

  2. Hi Pat 🙂 you’re welcome. I’m always happy to do a review especially when it’s for a fellow Penumbra author and friend 🙂

  3. I’m totally intimidated working on your review right now. 🙂

  4. Oh don’t be silly! 🙂 I write long detailed reviews but I want you to do whatever you feel is best. As long as it’s honest and from the heart I’ll be happy 🙂 Also I forgot to talk about the “Allegory of the Cave” Chapter in my review. I loved that one! I did a minor in Philosophy at Memorial University and we discussed Plato, Socrates and the Republic plenty. It was a very interesting chapter and you related the idea back to Haylee very well.

    You may have noticed I wrote about a philosophy class in my book where another concept “The Ring of Gyges” is discussed.

  5. Yeah, that’s my history nerd coming out. I had to edit out A LOT of my inner geek. LoL. Poor, Pat. =)


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