Year of the Crystal Children by E M Chandler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Year of the Crystal Children by E. M. Chandler is a YA Fiction with a lot of real places and events that happened and/or is still happening (which the author had listed these truths in "Author's Notes" at the beginning of the book) that had me captivated from the first page. At first I was a little confused as to the title and cover of the book but as I read it I totally think it is appropriate in a few ways. First off, I can see where someone would think the children are fragile like glass and 'broken' like a crystal bowl dropped on the floor which is why they ended up in a rehabilitation school. To be honest with you, that is what I thought when I first read the author's description, however the more I read, I realized they are far from fragile and broken. Then there is another way but I can't elaborate on it without giving away spoilers so I will skip it, however a third way I can tell you that they were more like a crystal in the sunlight, shinning their ever so clear and colorful 'insight' and 'beauty' alone with their 'uniqueness' and 'energy' for the reader to see.
The main character is Bailey and she was totally developed including the knowledge of the special gift she inherited from her grandmother as well as her ability to detect micro-expressions. She is spunky and a very likable character who happened to climb through a window to get back into school after the door was locked to get her cell phone and in doing so she witnessed something she wasn't suppose to see. When she brought what she saw to the attention of her principle because a neighbor of the school saw her there and damage to the school was done, she was visited later by the police. The breaking into the school, was compounded by the disappearance of her grandmother from the house while she had a loaded rifle, she was sent to a rehabilitation school called Pine Farm. The principle didn't believe her or was 'in' on what was going on and he needed to get her out of the way (or someone else did). After all, who is going to believe a kid with some sort of conspiracy or wild tale that has a criminal record over a principle of a school who is an adult in good standings with the community?
The friends she meets at Pine Farm (Thema, Jaime, Parkesh, and Samyan) are all developed with their own quirks and/or abilities and help Bailey clear her name as well as expose that what she saw is true and the government (or someone) is using children at school as guinea pigs for their experiments without anyone else's knowledge. Also, the characters of Ben (her friend from home and the school she went to then) and Shadow (the mountain man she met while at Pine Farm) were all developed but to a lesser degree. There were other characters and it was known what position they held but some sort of left me wondering who's side are they really on. Was it a set-up or are they for real? Maybe it was part of the experiment? For the most part, that is revealed during or toward the end.
The pace of the book is steady and comfortable.When they (Bailey and her friends at Pine Farm) were doing research or building things it was still eventful and staying within the plot, it never was drawn out or boring in any way. What is so striking about it is how believable it is. Many of the things going on could be traced back to things in the past or happening now; everything from drones invading our privacy and spying on people, people taking pictures/videos of us on their cell phones or other devices without our knowledge, people in high positions saying and doing things that are not legal and/or moral just to name a few and there is so much more. This is one of those books I didn't want to stop reading and was sort of disappointed it had to end. Speaking of the end, I love the discussion questions the author put at the end of the book! It is important for our YA to question, investigate, and research the truth about things going on and if that wasn't made clear by the story, it is by the questions. It is also important for them to think and research how good things like computers can be used for less than good reasons like tracking people.
I just can't say enough how good this book is and how much I enjoyed it but with the good comes the bad: the typos and missing or added words were annoying. I certainly can overlook a typo here and there but there were quite a few. Things like, 'Counselors stay close the kids..', 'When when Bailey had finished...', 'Would if help if I asked...,' and 'an imaginary line that rmoves farther away', just to name a few. I don't mean to nitpick and know I do the same thing when I write (I even reviewed a book and misspelled the title once, talk about embarrassing!) but I am not an author. The book needed to be proofread.
Of course we must take a little good with the bad so depending on if this is book one in a series, it can be good or bad. If it is the first book in a series then I may have the answers to questions I am left with in the next book however if this is it and it isn't a series then I am left with some unanswered questions which of course is bad. Although, by the ending (it is clear what happened with Bailey) and by the way it comes full circle (sorry don't want to write a spoiler but it is when she looks up and what she searches for), I have a feeling this is just the first book in a series but can't get that confirmed yet.
I recommend this book to everyone!!!
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