Possess: Hearing Voice

Recommended? Yes, if you like paranormal things and can overlook the initial overused idea of Catholics and exorcisms. But the Main character, Bridget, is pretty kick ass and well worth the read. Plus, McNeil has a powerful voice that can easily carry the story.

I actually finished this book about a week ago but I’ve been busy… so here’s the late review. I’m not sure why it is, but generally I’m overly critical of leading ladies. I’d say seven times out of ten I really don’t like the main character if it’s a female. Either they are too perfect, which drives me crazy, or they just rub me the wrong way. In the case of Possess, the MC is Bridget Liu and I really adored her. She’s strong, but flawed, and does not mess around. If she needs to get something done then she gets it done — no matter what. Plus her half-Irish Catholic half-Chinese heritage makes her pretty interesting.

The side characters are really amusing, too. Hector, her queer fellow social out cast at their Catholic High School, is hilarious. Kevin, the obsessive friend/stalker, is interesting but I was lukewarm for a while towards the love interest: Matt Quinn. At first, he seems just… like all over high school love interests — perfect, handsome, clever, and sportive. Blah. Boring. But, like a lot of things in this book, if you look passed the initial “oh that’s been done before” moments then you’ll really enjoy it. Matt turns out to be more than I thought.

The story is interesting and keeps moving from start to finish. There’s no boring lull and the end is sort of a surprise. It seems like the end leaves the book open for a sequel but — as far as I’m aware — there isn’t one. If there were, I’d read it.

The problems: cliches and so-been-done moments flash up all over the place in this book. For example, Bridget is a social outcast. What? A girl with paranormal powers is a social outcast, who could see that coming? Not. Plus, just the natural Catholics and exorcism thing. We all have been through that before. Then her mortal nemesis is Miss Perfect Bitchy Popular Pretty Girl. Owww, never seen that one before… not. Still, if you can overlook those few minute details then it’s a good book. It’s entertaining, the MC is kickass, the story just keeps going, and I really enjoyed the ride.

One more down side, the ending comes quickly and wraps up in like two pages. So for those out there that don’t like rushed endings, beware.

But the best part of the book? The voice. It’s flawlessly weaved throughout the story and really interesting. It nails a snarky teenager and can keep you entertained even when you encounter one of those so-bee-done-before moments.

Learning From Others

As a YA writer, you’d think I’d have joined SCBWI already, wouldn’t you? But I hadn’t. For some reason I had it in my head that you had to already be a published writer in order to become a member. Turns out I’m wrong, which is wonderful. I suppose it was officially a week ago that I joined SCBWI. Now I’m a member of the local chapter and a critique group here. It’s an online one, like the other critique group I’m a member of, but it’s small and filled with only YA members. My other critique group is constantly growing (I currently have no idea how many members there are…) and from all sorts of genres, which is nice because of the variety of prospective that comes along with that. I think the SCBWI one will trun out to be great. I’m also working on joining an in-person critique group.

I joined at just the right time for this. The third weekend of October, the local SCBWI chapter is hosting a writer’s conference. Of course I quickly registered to attend it, which is super exciting. It’ll be my first writing conference. This is going to be a great experience, both the critique group and the conference. I’m sure I’ll learn a lot and grow as a writer.

Also about a week ago I decided to give a Writer’s Digest course a try. I’m a VIP at WD and do some of their webinars from time to time, which are always interesting and insightful but I don’t think I’ve ever really learned something new about writing. I just like to do them to hear a literary agent’s POV on things. But I decided to the the First 10 Pages of Your Manuscript bootcamp anyway. It was one weekend and three literary agents, two of the three were YA enthusiastic, would look over the first ten pages and give insight into what worked and what didn’t.

I really think I learned a lot from that. I had been thinking about tweaking my manuscript in a certain way, but unsure of how to go about doing it. The literary agent I got, the lovely Paula Munier, was extremely nice and extremely helpful. She really went above and beyond to help everyone who attended. Another great thing came of it, all the YA writers who were attending decided to get together online afterwards and continue critiquing each other’s work.

Writing can be done in solitude, and for a long time I did it just that way, but the more I open up the others and share the more I learn about my own writing style and the more I grow. I’m really glad I joined SCBWI and very glad I did WD’s Bootcamp. Getting other people’s perspective is invaluable.