Title: Darwin’s Children
Author: Natasha Larry
Series: Darwin’s Children #1
Genre: Young-Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Publication: June 8th 2011 by Penumbra Publishing
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 is 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 paediatrician 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!
We’ll start with the cover, to me it looks and feels old, which is a little bit a reflection of the novel for me personal. I felt like the whole novel was set back in the 90’s with the setting and the characters and the way they acted. It felt like a very dated novel for a recently published young-adult novel. I think the cover reflects the novel itself well, it captures the essence of magic and oldness that the story has a lot of. The main character is not how I’d imagined her, she seems to feisty for me and wild. Jaycie seemed more childish and vulnerable in the story. However I have seen alternate covers that seem to fall a little more into the modern genre and I know covers aren’t down to authors, I still think it’s something to consider when reflecting upon the novel.
Overall, I thought the book was okay. It definitely has an intriguing premise, so when I was asked by the author to review this book, I was immediately excited to start reading. I think the story pace was smooth, but nothing that sparked a burning desire in me to keep turning the pages. I felt the story lacked the take-off that I was expecting. Whilst it had a good plot and a sturdy base, I felt like Larry could have expanded so much further and she just didn’t. For me, there were quite a few failed opportunities in here.
The main character Jaycie annoyed me an awful lot. She was meant to be a 17 year old girl and she behaved like a five year old for most of the story. Admittedly she was aware of this petulant trait, but there were other instances where her father of trainer Allison would put her to bed. I’m sorry, but for me a 16/17 year old girl would never easily acquiesce to being put to bed by her father even if she was asleep. It just didn’t fit with modern society for me. She also seemed a little bit weak and vulnerable. She pretended to be all out front and unbothered by people, but it seemed to be a front. She ignored her boyfriend for weeks, fell into depression over her only friend yet she was stereotyped as the pretty cheerleader material. It may be stereotyping, but her character seemed to have a lot of faults because whilst she tried to be a kick-ass heroine at times, her father was always there stepping in or Allison and it ruined it for me. I like to see a protagonist take control of her story, not be pushed around by her senior figures. I didn’t see enough of her trying to break out of restraining parental hold or even pushing towards spending time with her boyfriend.
The romance isn’t an insta-love because the two characters Jaycie and Matt have had a friendship for a long time, but suddenly they just start becoming a thing and there is very little discussion about this or talk about a relationship status. Matt also seems to accept that Jaycie won’t see or speak to him for weeks at a time and I found it a little bit odd for a teenage couple playing love interests. Whilst it might have been refreshing from the insta-love and sickly love triangles we are getting more and more often in contemporary young-adult novels, I just lacked the spark between the couple. It seemed to fizzle out for me.
However, despite my negatives, I really loved Haylee’s character and her story. Jaycie despite her problems played a great friend for Haylee and brought her from her shell. I found the way in which the friendship developed to be an interesting one because it wasn’t a friendship of norm. The way in which Jaycie’s family unit worked was also endearing.
The plot overall is good and I found there was always a new moment to engage you. I think with the plot you can certainly target a wide audience in the young-adult genre because we touch on vampires, angels who are divided into two sub-sections Larry explains about and many more different creatures we are yet to find out about. These all fit in with Jaycie and her family and the paranormal world. We certainly have lots of paranormal and magical elements to Darwin’s Children that makes the story.
The title has no explicit link to the story in general, but the subtlety of the evolution and survival of the fittest becomes more apparent throughout the story. I certainly learned to appreciate the story title. The chapter titles in general provide sufficient coverage of the chapter without becoming too obvious and giving away the plot which is always helpful.
I have to admit, my favourite part about the story was the ending, despite it being a seemingly random finish, it eluded to more depth to the paranormal aspect and Jaycie’s family which I’ll be excited to read about. I’ll definitely be continuing with the next book in the series because I think Larry has a lot of offer us and lots of places to take us. Whilst I don’t think the book was perfect and the characters had a lot of faults for me, Larry does a great job of setting up a new and different young-adult novel that is certainly different from most of the contemporary young-adult novels out there.
If you’re looking for something different, I suggest picking up Darwin’s children because it’s a pleasant read at about 280 pages.
*This book was provided to me by the author in exchange for a honest, free review*
More stalking available here:
Let me know what you think!