Curiosity Quills recently offered me the opportunity to read FIFTEEN by Jen Estes in exchange for an honest review. After reading the back cover blurb, I decided to take a chance on it as the premise really captured my attention.
Fifteen, by Jen Estes
Genre:Contemporary Fantasy, Paranormal, Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Publisher:Curiosity Quills Press
Date of Release:January 15, 2015
Cover Artist:Conzpiracy Digital Arts
Legend has it if you die in your dreams, you die in real life. Fifteen-year-old Ashling Campbell knows that’s not true because when she closes her eyes each night, she doesn’t dream about public nudity or Prom dates. Instead, she’s catapulted to the front row of her future self’s execution – fifteen years from now – where monsters have taken control of her hometown and she, or rather, her 30-year-old counterpart, is their public enemy number one.
For three months and counting, it’s been the same dream… until an encounter with an antique dreamcatcher. Ash falls asleep to discover she’s no longer a mere spectator in these dreams – now she’s astral-projecting into the body of her future self. Each night, she goes on the run with a ragtag group of rebels – who have no idea she’s really a high school sophomore and not their noble warrior. She has to make it through each night so that she can wake up and find a way to change the future. For every action she does in the present day, she falls asleep to discover it had an equal impact fifteen years later. It’s up to her to manage her two worlds and make sure she’s still got a place in both.
I’m really torn over this book. Part of me really, really loved it and the other part of me only liked it.
I thought the beginning started out kind of slow and I was wondering when the story would pick up. It didn’t take long before the first ‘dream’ sequence, and boy, did it catch my attention. The monster in Ash’s dreams is wicked beyond wicked, and what happens to her during the dream is just too freaking weird and unsettling.
I’m really trying hard not to give spoilers away here but it’s difficult to talk about this book without giving something away. Hmm, let’s talk characters.
There is this doctor in the book that is an oddly placed character. Ash and her friend, Nadette’s, reaction to him seemed too quick. They just went with him unknowing, unthinking, and it’s not like he was a young college kid, either. He’s an old guy, well, old to a couple of teen girls. I thought this entire scene just unfolded way to easy. They were too trusting. Personally, I was kind of creeped out by the guy, the way he stood under a tree staring at the two girls, and yet they’re like “hey, baby.” It felt ‘off’ to me. It through my creep groove off. However, I liked the character and I really enjoyed watching the way he helped Ash come to terms with her dreams.
Anyway, Ash’s relationships with Tate, Nadette and Skylar are all very typical teenager, and there is a strong YA voice when the three of them get together. I would have liked to have seen deeper characters, a little bit deeper POV with Ash and her feelings toward Tate. Don’t get me wrong. We know her relationship with him. We know how she feels about him. I just would have liked to have seen a bit deeper connection.
The settings are pretty typical – high school and college campuses. The scenes are easy to picture in my mind. The prose is fairly quick overall and engaging. The storyline and plot are easy to follow, but there are some twists and turns that are really quite nice.
There is a scene where Ash falls asleep in class that I would have liked to have seen developed a bit more. I think there would have been more reaction among the students. I really liked this first introduction into carrying things over from sleep to reality – one dimension to another. Very nicely done.
Bad thing is, I found myself wanting to get to the dreams instead of reading the story. At one point I found myself skimming because I thought it was taking too long to get to the dream scenes, which were becoming more and more intense and vivid. Ms. Estes knows how to write these villains and monsters, and even better, she knows how to weave them into reality. I can’t really say it’s the author’s fault I wanted to jump ahead. Then again, a slow enticement is much better than a WHAM! Know what I mean?
As for the end of the novel, Jen Estes knows how to end a book. I loved the twists and turns in the end and the last line was most excellent. It made me go “ooooo”. All I could think of is if I were Fifteen, everything she’d just been through would completely freak me out.
Overall, I wish there had been a tad more deep character development. Sometimes they felt flat to me and then in other spots, they were bopping all over the page. I didn’t like the ending with Tate and Nadette. That really sucked and I would have liked to have seen a different ‘ending’ for them and Ash. Again, my preference and nothing the author did wrong.
Try as I might, it is really difficult to peg down score for this one. It would be between a 3.75 and a 4.0. I think I’ll give a 4.0 because the creepy, wraithy kind of villain was just written so damn well. I could see him in all his ghoulishness. At times, it was if he were standing right in front of me. *Shiver* And then to find out he’s really …
Nope, not going to tell you. You’re going to have to read the book to find out.
I give FIFTEEN 4 stars. It really does have a menacing, hair-raising storyline and I think most people who like edgy YA horror without going overboard, will love this novel. It is pretty intense for the most part, with a very interesting plot line. I am happy to say this is the first book I’ve read in 2015. Thank you Curiosity Quills Press and Jen Estes with starting out my year with a really enjoyable read.
About the Author
Jen Estes is the author of the Cat McDaniel Mystery Series and the forthcoming FIFTEEN (The Dreamwalker Diaries).
Born and raised in the Midwest, Jen had to choose between staring at corn or reading books. Corn husks just didn’t have the appeal of the Baby-Sitters Club, and so a bookworm was born. Reading later turned into writing and in 2011, Jen published her first novel. After releasing four books in the mystery genre, Jen finally gave in to the literary demands of her inner teenager with her YA debut, FIFTEEN (The Dreamwalker Diaries) with Curiosity Quills. Jen lives in Illinois with her husband Nathan under the tyranny of their three cats: Wrigley, Ivy and Captain Moo.
She is an active member of the National Writers Union. When she isn’t writing, Jen enjoys sci-fi in all its mediums, attempting yoga, using her passport, watching baseball, and reading a good book. You can find Jen on the web at http://www.jenestes.com, on Tumblr as AuthorJenEstes and tweeting under @jenestesdotcom
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