Moving to a new town was not on Hattie’s to-do list for the summer.
Her arrival in Applewood brings nothing but strange things to her doorstep. A bendable boy guards an abandoned orchard. A cactus gives her a bullet. A monster made of oil stalks those around her.
And nobody can see them but her.
When traveling consultants show up on her doorstep, a chance encounter with the boy named Jack forces them to confront the monsters and their intertwined fates. Worse yet, the lives of the people she loves now hang by a thread.
When her world collides with another, Hattie must make a choice: save herself or save her parents.
Perceiver is the first book in The Perceiver Trilogy, a YA fantasy series with magical creatures and grand adventures.
I received this book for free from the author via BookSirens. All comments and opinions are entirely my own and this review is voluntary.
“Applewood looked nice in the way that meant that everything interesting happened elsewhere.”
In this Alice-in-Wonderland-meets-The-Wizard-of-Oz-esque book, Hattie’s life is abruptly changed when a strange man steals her parents’ “selves” and she follows the man into the world of Tsava in a desperate attempt to get them back. But she gets more than she bargained for as she jumps down the fountain connecting her world to theirs, and the strangest things begin to happen before her very eyes.
This book is a lot. Very, very strong Alice in Wonderland vibes that both hook you into the story, but also baffle you with it. It’s exciting and fast paced and the prose used to describe things is whimsical and captivating. But I’m so torn on how to feel upon finishing it.
I loved the storyline, I’m invested in the characters’ lives, and the world of Tsava is the first world I’ve ever encountered similar to Alice’s Wonderland, which I really loved. However, I feel incredibly disrespected as a reader and I think that is because the author didn’t know if the book was middle grade or young adult. I can tell you now, that it has been incorrectly marketed as young adult. This story, as it is now, is a middle grade story with YA content. To be appropriately YA, a LOT should’ve been changed.
The primary reason that I feel disrespected and why the incorrect audience mistake matters so much, is because of how the author treated the reader. Hattie, first of all, is 12-years-old. There are very few young adult novels that feature 12-year-olds that remain 12 through the entire book. But I feel like the author thought the mild cursing, spooks, and graphic content towards the end made it ineligible to be middle grade and therefore just called it YA without bringing the rest of the content up to YA standards. And what I’m specifically referring to is the fact that we, as readers, are treated 12. There’s a quote at the end of the book that completely summarizes the entirety of Perceiver:
“‘Those are excellent questions,’ Limn said. ‘And I won’t answer them. The end.'”
That is an actual quote in the last chapter and I’ve never been so upset as a reader before. I just spent the better part of my week investing my very rare, spare time into this book, and the author ended the book with that attitude. The world of Tsava is so, so weird and unique, in a good way. And this world could have been so enthralling and captivating, but it just ended up being frustrating. Hattie would ask the very questions that I was asking or the author would ask a new question for me, and then completely change the subject with no answers to anything. And then, I love cliffhangers y’all (you know this!), she presented a brand new question in the last few paragraphs of the last chapter and ended the book. There are good cliffhangers, and there are poorly written cliffhangers, and that one breaks so many rules especially since we no longer trust the author to give us any answers at all.
This isn’t a book that I would have DNF’d, because I was so captivated. I was hooked from the very first page and I loved Hattie, I loved Jack, I loved Limn, I loved so much of this book. But I can’t tell you anything about this world. I can’t describe to you what happened. I have no earthly idea what I just read, because none of the important questions were answered and I’m stuck wondering if book two will even be worth reading because the author gave me no hope that she even has answers for how things work in her own world. For middle grade, that is somewhat acceptable–to an extent. For YA, this is unacceptable. YA readers expect incredible story worlds that are fleshed out, like the works of London Shah, Joan He, Marissa Meyers, and so many others that have captivated lovers of YA. This just disrespected my time, and my immediate love for Hattie. I was hooked and promised so many things, and then left with nothing more than I started with. I’ve never felt like this after reading a book.
I want to say that I’m still dedicated enough to Hattie and Tsava to read the next book, but my fear is that it will leave me even more confused. I’ll just have to see what my decision will be once it releases, though, if I had it in my hands right now, I’d be reading it the rest of the afternoon. This is why I have no idea what to rate this book, so I’m gonna say 2.5 stars but 3 on sites that don’t accept halves.