Monday, January 19, 2015

IA: Initiate by John Darryl Winston - Book Review

**I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review**

IA: Initiate is a coming-of-age young adult novel with supernatural elements. It's also the debut novel from John Darryl Winston, and I have to say he's off to a fantastic start with this series.  

Here is the official Goodreads synopsis:

IA: Initiate is a supernatural thriller set in the mean streets of America. A seemingly random act of gang violence sends "Naz" Andersen on a quest to find answers surrounding his dead parents that lead to a series of discoveries about his supernatural abilities. Naz tries to stay out of the way at his foster parent's home, but he walks in his sleep, and he is unable to keep the fact that he hears voices from his therapist. He attempts to go unnoticed at school and in the streets of the Exclave, but attracts the attention of friends and bullies alike, and his efforts to protect his little sister make him the target of malicious bullying by the notorious street gang, Incubus Apostles. Naz is an ordinary thirteen-year-old, or so he thinks. He harbors a secret that even he is oblivious to, and a series of ill-fated events reveal to him telekinetic and telepathic abilities. Now he must navigate newly found friendship and gang violence, and face the full force of the world around him. The only way he can survive is to discover the supernatural world within.

So what we have here is the story of a young boy named Naz who happens to have a secret he doesn't quite understand, a sister to care for, and an indifferent foster family. Naz, unfortunately, also earns himself unwanted attention from a street gang that is adamant that he join them. When his abilities start to reveal themselves, and his secret starts to unravel, Naz has to do whatever he can to try and understand it all before it's too late. Will he be able to? You'll have to read the book and find out.

Okay, so I really quite enjoyed this book, and I'm looking forward to the second one. The world that Naz lives in is really well-developed, and it's easy to get lost inside of it. Even though it's a gritty, unsafe area infested with gangs and drug runners, it's still a fascinating place to read about.

The characters in the book are also easy to get attached to. You find yourself wanting to discover more about Naz as he goes through his journey in the novel. He's a curious one, and it's hard not to like him. His sister Meri is a fun character, wanting to help her big brother but not really understanding him at the same time. She's also really smart and a bit sassy at times.

Even though the secondary characters aren't as in-depth in the book, they're still really well-written and hard to forget. Out of all of them, I think the homeless man is the most intriguing. I really liked his character.

Plot-wise, the book moves along at a nice pace that doesn't ever really seem to drag or bore you. Once it sucks you in, you stay involved until the very end. That's definitely a plus, especially when it's a debut novel. There are flashbacks that sort of help make sense of some of what's going on, but at the same time, these flashbacks pose more questions than answers, if that makes sense. 

Overall, IA: Initiate is a really great debut novel, and I'm so glad I had the chance to read it and discover a new author. I am curious to see what will happen in the next book, though. It'll be interesting to see where the author takes Naz, Meri, and the rest of the characters. Definitely looking forward to that.

I'd give IA: Initiate 4 out of 5 stars. If you're into young adult stories with supernatural themes, give this one a go. You won't regret it.


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