Yesterday, I told you about Arcadia’s Gift and Arcadia’s Curse in a quick promo post to kick off the tour with Promotional Book Tours. Today it’s my turn to share my review (I think I actually get to go first, yay!). I’m excited because I really freaking loved these books. So much that it’s safe to say I will read anything that Jesi Lea Ryan ever writes again. Let me tell you a bit about them.
Arcadia’s Gift by Jesi Lea Ryan
Arcadia AKA “Cady” and her twin sister Avalon, AKA “Lony” may look the same on the outside, but inside they’re as different as can be. Lony is an outgoing cheerleader and one of the most popular girls in school. Cady is more studious, with just a few close friends. Lony dates the high school quarterback, Cady, well, she dates more in her dreams. One night, Lony convinced Cady to come out with her to the local hangout, a rather treacherous state park area.
Tragedy strikes, and I do mean tragedy. Lony is killed in a horrific accident while Cady experiences the entire thing through what can only be called a psychic episode. Three days later, Cady wakes up in the hospital only to discover that her twin is dead and her mother is falling apart. Her father moved out the day of the accident before it happened. Her older brother? He pretty much locked himself away in the basement years ago. Cady is left alone, until Bryan comes into her life to help her put the pieces back together.
After Cady wakes up, she starts feeling strange feelings. Feelings that she eventually discovers don’t actually belong to her. She’s an empath now. With the help of her neighbor, she spends much of Arcadia’s Gift learning how to control and block her new power.
There are quite a few things that I absolutely LOVED about Arcadia’s Gift, aside from the plot itself. First, I love, love, love that Ryan didn’t just give a girl a power that she accepts right away and send her off to save the world. In fact, there is no world-saving in this book. Yes, there is “saving” but I don’t want to spoil anything for you. Too often, writers rush the plot, doling out powers from strangers that girls not only believe, but fall for in a heartbeat. Not realistic! Cady came into her abilities throughout the book. She was skeptical, she was outraged, she was scared, angry. At times, she was okay with them. She was what you would expect of a normal teen who suddenly gained strange abilities.
Then there was the raw, intense emotion of the book. Ryan not only writes about an empath, she turns the reader into one as well. Lony’s funeral scene was full of depth and heartbreak. Moments with Cady’s mom, dad and even her brother really made you FEEL what she felt, what the other characters felt. I actually felt completely connected to everyone in the story, something that takes real talent to pull off.
Finally, there’s the love story. It’s not the main focus of the book, but it does play a strong roll. Again, Ryan takes the realistic approach rather than the “I just met you five seconds ago and already I’d die for you and kill for you” swoony crap that YA books are a bit famous for. Thank you so much for that, Jesi! Cady and Bryan’s relationship unfolds throughout the book, building up intensity rather than burning out by page three.
This is an amazingly spectacular read that I can’t recommend enough for everyone from young adults all the way up.
Arcadia’s Curse: An Arcadia Novel- Book 2
I don’t really want to say too much about this one because you have to read the first one first. It just makes more sense! The second book picks up shortly after the first one ends, on Arcadia’s 17th birthday. She’s basically learned how to deal with her “gift” and all that it includes (a nice twist at the end of the first book that I don’t want to ruin), but she’s still experiencing horrible headaches. In fact, just when she thinks she’s getting it under control, she starts to exhibit some weird side effects of using them.
She’s also been studying up more on psychic gifts. Through her studies, she encountered a girl who can walk through dreams, Alejandra. When Alejandra struts into Cady’s dreams one night and tells her about a group that can help her learn to deal better, Cady is curious. As much as she doesn’t want to leave her home, family and Bryan, she heads off to Chicago to spend time at the University and learn more about her gifts. Except now she’s in a room full of strangers who don’t know about her unique extra ability that comes with her empathy. Worse, if they found out, they’d probably want to use her for nefarious purposes!
Seriously, I don’t want to spoil anything here! Just know that Arcadia’s Curse is written in the same brilliant style as Arcadia’s Gift. It’s a fantastic continuation of the story. Although it was a bit jarring to have Cady move from a familiar environment to an unfamiliar, that alone shows just how easy it is to connect with Jesi Lea Ryan’s characters.
I cannot wait for the next book in this series! There BETTER be a next book!