I’ll be upfront about this: I am as comfortable writing about YA as I was being a YA, which was a chaotic jumble of sweaty, nervous acne filled years I try to remember happily if I delete all the awfulness, so I came to “Book of Beings” determined to dislike it. Determined to take a stand against Paranormal YA books in general, for some bizarre reason. Call me prejudiced, call me what you will, but I think I was setting out to rant and rave about YA novels in a fit of post-traumatic stress disorder when I turned to the first page.
Manon Blau convinced me otherwise.
I met Miss Blau through Seach, and I am a better person for the meeting. If you are curious, Manon is the protagonist of “Book of Beings”. She is in high school. She has a crush on a mysterious boy. She is also pregnant. Oh, and she is a virgin.
A number of writers could use all of those pieces of information and weave a saccharine tale full of supernatural breast-beating, drama and action packed noise. What Seach does, and what won my heart is a more subdued approach. A more human approach. In following Manon through her pregnancy, in the specifics of her nervousness, her sweats, her mood swings and the ins and outs of living and growing up fast in a town well known for its religious potpourri I was moved. Honestly moved.
Manon is a wall-flower. One of those girls you remember from high school vaguely, if you remember them at all – the ones who never really spoke up in class, or made a point of standing out. Seach nails her character perfectly, deftly, and with as few words as necessary to make Blau endearing – a person whose corner I was in at all times.
I don’t tear up much anymore. Put it down to the callouses on my fingertips from flipping through pages, but there was a scene in “Book of Beings” that hit its mark, and for that alone it would deserve a better than average recommendation – it was simple, it was logical, it was touching and heartbreaking all at the same time. Manon filling out a statement for the police, on a charge of potential sexual assault (I won’t spoil anything. Honestly, read the book.) had to it all of the truth one could possibly hope to find in a passage about growing up here and now, in this aftermath of the 20th century.
Had this book finished, actually closed itself off this would have been a 5 star review. A full on, no-holds barred 5 star review. I would have pounded on my neighbor’s door and demanded they read this book, right now, no matter what they were doing. But sadly, it didn’t. There is a sequel, apparently. And while I am curious to know what will happen to Blau, I am a little unsatisfied.
Not every book needs to be a trilogy, in my opinion. And by including an ominous element only near the close of the book, where Blau is perhaps in danger from supernatural forces it may open up a new avenue for the book to follow, but it closes an avenue by which we can see Manon not as a heroine in a struggle between “good” beings and “bad” ones, but as a young woman in an unexpected situation trying to keep a brave face in the middle of chaos. Which is kind of what I remember best about being a teenager. Which is where Seach truly shines.
So I will only dock a point off my rankings for “Book of Beings” for that. And even then, it’s not much of a point. “Book of Beings” was almost everything you could possibly hope for in a story about immaculate conception circa mid 2000’s. It had all its human elements right. It has all the truth one could hope for in that. And it kept me from the brink of sputtering and making a fool of myself against a towering genre of young adult fantasticals. Truth in fiction, even paranormal fiction, even coming of age paranormal fiction is what makes a GoodRead. What makes the best kind of read. So bravo to Liz Seach, and thank you for Manon Blau and the world she lives in. What a marvel it was to meet both of you.
Love it. Just plain love it.