Harbinger by Sara Wilson Etienne was one of my most highly anticipated titles for early 2012. The mix of paranormal, history and romance definitely had me super intrigued! Unfortunately: the book totally failed to deliver for me.
To be frank, the only thought I had about Harbinger while reading it was “wow. this is a hot mess.” I know that seems really mean and totally harsh – but really. Everything was so confusing, y’all! The more information I was given, the worse it got. Instead of feeling energized by the mystery and suspense, I was completely turned off and frustrated.
(Also, sorry to keep the specifics out of my review. But, I don’t want to spoil Harbinger for anyone still planning on reading it!)
So, Faye’s dad dumps her at Holbrook: School for Delinquents and Weirdos. She is introduced to a few other students, who are to be known as her “family.” They study together, eat together, have structured free time together…the whole deal. When they all start waking up on the floor with weird red stains on their hands – they realize they’re a little closer than they’d planned on. What in the holy hell is going on? Faye is pretty sure it’s her fault, but she doesn’t have the slightest clue what to do about it.
Enter Kel, mysterious hoodie guy. He is in her family, and he and Faye had a bonding experience (creepy time-out) very early on. She is pretty attracted to him, but trust doesn’t exactly grow on trees in their situation. Even when they get their kissyface on, she isn’t sure whether or not to confide in him.
So, Sara Wilson Etienne did get a few things right in Harbinger. I loved the detail put into Holbrook – from the 3 minute showers with gross powdered shampoo and awful communal underwear to the awful teachers and horrible meals.
Also, the characters were developed well. Even the bad guys had depth. Unfortunately, the crazy plot kept me from feeling connected to anyone. Even when I was somewhat curious about Faye and Kel and what was going on – I never felt motivated enough to try and sort through the mess of information. I really wish Sara Wilson Etienne hadn’t thrown in everything (including the kitchen sink) she did.
I do have to say though: the end of Harbinger was awesome. The last three pages were great. If only the journey had equaled the destination! Very original and crazy cool. Not quite worth reading through the miasma, but still.
Harbinger definitely takes readers on a wild ride. If you’re in the mood for a very intricate, detailed and crazed plot, Sara Wilson Etienne is happy to provide! It didn’t work for me, but it certainly might work for you.