Friday, September 10, 2010


Golden by Jennifer Lyn Barnes

When Lissy James moves from California to Oklahoma, she finds herself in the middle of a teenage nightmare: a social scene to rival a Hollywood movie. And if understanding the hierarchy of the Goldens vs. the Nons isn't hard enough, Lissy's ever growing Aura Vision is getting harder and harder to hide, and if shes not careful, shes going to become a Non faster than you can say "freak."
But its becoming clear that Emory High has a few secrets of its own. Around the halls, the term "special powers" goes way beyond ones ability to attract the opposite sex, and there may be something more evil than the A-crowd lurking in the classrooms. Lissy can see a lot more than the average girl, but shes about to learn the hard way that things aren't always as they appear and you can't always judge a girl by her lip gloss.

I happened across Golden this week when I was in need of a new audiobook. I was somewhat intrigued by the book description, but I didn't have particularly high expectations. Despite my fondness for YA fiction, I have to admit that many books geared toward teens are not particularly good.

I have to say, though, that Golden was better than I expected. The novel deals with the normal trials and tribulations of being an American teen trying to fit in at a new school. Lissy is in many ways a typical teenager (with an annoying little sister and a huge crush on a male friend). Before she moved to OK, she wasn't one of the popular kids, but she wasn't a social reject either. She has a special ability, but she's always been able to keep it from making her life difficult.

I do think that Barnes tried to do a bit too much in this (her first) novel. The paranormal element (especially the myriad ways it expressed itself in Lissy's family) is overcomplicated. At first it seemed liked maybe Oklahoma was going to be portrayed as a paranormal hot-spot, but when it becomes obvious that all gifted people don't come from the area, questions arise (at least for me). While I realize that Lissy's powers strengthened over time, it seems unrealistic that she wouldn't have noticed certain things* when she was still living in California. I'm also not crazy about how Barnes handles some of the relationships* in the novel. Personally I don't think that romantic predestination is appropriate for teen fiction.

* I'm trying to be vague here in order to avoid spoilers.

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