I just want to remind people of my radio show, in which I babble like a maniac. This month's does contain complete readings of "The Story of an Hour" and "Desiree's Baby," both by Kate Chopin. You should listen to it for those.
By Carrie Jones
(Note: The cover image will take you to Amazon. Usually I don't note this, but NEED is currently 32% off, which rocks.)
After her (step)father dies, Zara becomes something of a zombie - noticible even to her seatmate on a plane. She does little but write her letters to Amnesty International, trying to save others even as she refuses to notice anything wrong with herself. Worried, her mother sends her to live with her (step)grandmother, Betty, an EMT in Maine.
She quickly becomes involved with several people at school: Nick, who has a hero complex, Ian, an overachiever, Issie, a hyper and awesome girl, and her crush Devyn. She has less positive interactions with Megan, who instantly dislikes Zara. Are all Megans in YA literature bad guys? I have to be honest, my best friend in kindergarten was named Megan. I don't like to think she might've grown up to be a villain. (Woot! New Heroes episodes tomorrow!)
Tangents aside, Zara also encounters another important person. She saw him back in Charleston and now she's seeing him in her new home. Devyn and Issie are scared of him as well. They believe he's a pixie, the king who needs to hunt and kill and leaves behind gold glitter. He's definitely a guy to be legitimately scared of. Which I love, since it contrasts the phobias Zara recites to calm herself down. The teens in NEED are put into scary situations and there's nothing irrational about their fright. People who want to torture you to death in the woods are bad news.
Luckily, the pixies have an enemy. Because Zara doesn't find the only way to stop the king's needs very palatable. Even a girl who wants to save the world still wants to save herself, even if that girl sometimes forgets. And like the best YA books, Zara is figuring out who she is. Is she a pacifist, hippie chick? Or does the anger she sometimes feels have a use? She doesn't completely answer her own questions (who does), but she does completely creep me out with her decisions. That is, of course, the perfect end to a book obsessed with fear.
NEED moves by very quickly. It's a slender volume and the scenes move along swiftly, especially when Zara's in a harrowing situation. I adored the characters, particularly Issie and Betty. Nick I took a little longer to like, since the hero complex often causes one to completely ignore what help other people can offer in a situation. But he worked well with others' plans and won me over by the end. At the end, I even felt attached to Zara's mom, who barely shows up in the story. NEED worked very well for me as a fast-paced, creepy (slightly disturbing when all is said and done) read.
NEED came out in January 2009, so you can buy and/or borrow it now! Carrie Jones is also the author of TIPS FOR HAVING A (GAY) EX-BOYFRIEND, GIRL, HERO, and LOVE (AND OTHER USES FOR DUCT TAPE), none of which have paranormal elements. (Just warning you in case you read NEED and think you'll be reading more books with pixies and shifters.) Carrie Jones can be found at her website, which contains links to her non-fiction, and her el jay. Thanks to Kristi (The Story Siren), who lent me her copy.