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Saturday, May 05, 2012

EVERY OTHER DAY By Jennifer Lynn Barnes. London: Quercus, 2012.

Kali D’Angelo, half-Indian, half-Italian and - something else - is a normal teenage girl. Well, every other day, anyhow. Actually, she’s not really that normal. She is all too aware of her weakness when she’s human and spends every day counting down the hours to when she will again be either human or - something else. And trying not to make friends because sooner or later she’d have to tell them and might put them in danger. And keeping her back to the wall for safety. And hating her scientist father and wondering about her missing mother.
One day at a new school, she spots a girl with a mark that dooms her to death within the next twenty-four hours. Only problem is, it’s the wrong twenty-four hours. She can still save the girl, but only if she can survive the night herself....
Here’s the opening line: “The decision to make hellhounds an endangered species was beyond asinine, but I expected nothing less from a government that had bankrolled not one, but two, endowed chairs in preternatural biology...” Immediately, I was drawn into the world of the novel, an alternative universe in which Darwin had discovered a creature known as the Galapagos hydra and suddenly all sorts of mythical creatures came out of the woodwork.
The novel showed the kind of humour so often lacking in paranormal romance. Kali is very much Buffy the Vampire Slayer - but only every other day. She is witty every day, though. Kali gradually gathers a Scooby gang of her own, including a Willow, a Cordelia and a sort of Xander. The Cordelia character, Bethany, Kali’s boss’s daughter - leader of the popular girls, a cheerleader, a member of the student council - has Cordelia’s sardonic wit. “I’m shallow, not a sociopath,” she says at one point. Actually, she isn’t shallow, but this is how cheerleaders are perceived.  She’s brave and supportive. So is Skylar, who refers to herself as “the school slut”, a title she earned without actually having to be a slut. 
Kali begins to realise that she has been used, that her very birth was for someone else’s benefit, not her own. And she’s being stalked and it isn’t by a gorgeous boy vampire, not even Angel, but by a major corporation. Not nice. Can she really go it alone or should she finally trust her newfound friends and stop acting on the hero/messiah complex of which she has been accused by those friends? 
There was a lot more depth and a lot less romance than in the average YA paranormal. The whole story goes over about forty-eight hours, something you forget due to all the action, which is pretty much nonstop. I liked the touches of science in this, not surprising from an author who is currently studying for her PhD in science. There’s a reason for all these paranormal beings, and it’s not what you might think.
If you do like romance, don’t despair, there’s always Zev, the gorgeous paranormal boy who might play a more substantial role in the next novel, if any. He’s there all the time, but not - I will say no more lest I risk spoilers. 
 I should say, though, that the younger male characters aren’t as strong as the females. There are some good older males, such as Skylar’s older brothers, Vaughn the vet and Reid the FBI man.  The strongest boys are those who are mostly offstage, such as Darryl the computer genius, who only appears briefly,saying little, but supplies a very important piece of hardware later in the book. It can only be hoped Darryl is a more important character in a future book. And there really should be more, because there were some loose ends that could do with tying up, but this can be read standalone.
Every Other Day is a breath of fresh air in this genre. If you’re a little sick of the books with the girl in a formal gown on the cover and the gorgeous male stalker and would like a novel with some kickass females who have some depth to them, this is a book you will enjoy.


Stephanie said...

Lynne Barnes writes good stuff--I've been a fan since Golden. I'm looking forward to this one!

Stephanie @ RIASS

Sue Bursztynski said...

You won't be disappointed. I must admit, this is my first of her books.