Sunday, June 21, 2015
Review: The Holders by Julianna Scott
Title: The Holders (The Holders, #1)
Author: Julianna Scott
Rating: 3.5 Stars
The Holders is a vastly underrated take on a rather typical plot line. Becca's younger brother, Ryland, has been hearing voices in his head for years. While numerous adults have approached Becca and her family to move Ryland to a psychiatric ward for treatment, they have steadfastly refused. Becca knows her brother isn't a "different" child, despite appearances, and her fierce protectiveness has allowed him to lead a relatively normal life. When Alex appears on her doorstep, however, vividly good-looking and promising to take Ryland to a special school in Ireland, Becca's guard is instantly up. But Alex is the real deal. Becca and Ryland's father, who abandoned their family a decade previously, runs an institution for Holders, a long line of Irish descendants who possess supernatural abilities. These gifts, passed down predominantly through the male line, are taught and controlled in the school Alex suggests that Ryland attend. Although Becca doesn't trust her father, Jocelyn, in the least, the fact that her younger brother shares the same talents he does is reassuring, nevertheless, and Becca agrees to let Ryland travel to Ireland as long as she accompanies him.
It's all fairly standard; your run-of-the-mill Hogwarts-esque place complete with unusual children who finally find a place to call home. Only, Becca's voice--fiercely protective of her younger brother yet distinctly alone in the world as she graduated high school at fifteen and has waited two years to attend college--is a far cry from your typical protagonist. I admired Becca from the start and the fact that her younger brother is the special one, not her, only makes this a more interesting read. As an elder sister myself, with a seven-year age gap between my younger brother, I understood Becca's protectiveness and felt a kinship with her from the moment I began her narration. She's strong-willed and determined, yet also vulnerable, as she shows Alex.
And Alex. When it comes to Alex, Becca admits her attraction to him but never lets it deter her from her mission to ensure her younger brother's safety and protection. Instead, Becca and Alex become close friends and confidants before their relationship moves on to love. It's a slow-burn, that's for sure, and Scott writes romance exactly the way I like it with the two love interests on equal footing, able to balance one another and bring out the best in each other. While I thought I knew the direction this story was headed, I have to say that both Becca and Ryland grow immensely over the course of the book, their experiences molding and changing them, and I really enjoyed watching as the plot unfolded alongside different aspects of their personalities as they grew into who they were meant to be. Becca's relationship with her parents is also intriguing, mainly because it's such a rocky one. With her father she is prickly, though deeply hurt, and with her mother Becca is protective and slightly resentful that she has had to assume many of the adult roles in the household due to her mother's genteel nature. Becca is such a three-dimensional character that each facet of her was endlessly interesting, endearing, and captivating.
I will say, however, that the plot of this novel becomes fairly predictable after a point. Scott's characters, even the secondary ones, are what stood out to be to make this a truly incredible novel. Don't expect twists and turns with this one; just expect excellence characterization and don't be surprised if you fall for a bald professor or two because Scott makes you care. While I will admit to the fact that there are a few-too-many cliches within this installment, I loved the concept Scott created and her characters are vibrant, her setting vivid, and her plot wildly entertaining. The Holders may not have made the top of your TBR before, but it certainly deserves to be bumped up there for sure.