Thursday, May 19, 2011

My Soul To Take Book Review

Release date: 2009. Author: Rachel Vincent. Publisher: Harlequin Teen. ISBN: 9780373210039.

Annotation: Kaylee Cavanaugh has an unusual ability: she can sense when someone is going to die. Kaylee discovers that this ability means more than she realized, however, when the gorgeous and popular Nash takes a sudden interest in her, and seems to understand the truth about her visions.

Personal thoughts: I absolutely loved this novel. There are so many stories, especially for teens, that include monsters, whether it's vampires, zombies, werewolves, fairies, etc. I was so excited to see one that included one of the most interesting characters from Celtic lore: the bean sidhe. Kaylee is a very likable heroine as well, and takes on her newly discovered abilities with a sense of humor, not a pout or temper tantrum. I also highly recommend the rest of this fun series!

Plot summary: Sixteen-year-old Kaylee Cavanaugh has a strange ability: she knows when someone is going to die. She senses it, sees the person covered in shadow, and is unable to do anything but scream. Kaylee is not sure if this ability is a gift or a curse. She lives with her uncle Brendon, aunt Val and cousin Sophie; her father lives in Ireland and sent her to America after her mother's death. Her aunt and uncle seem to think her ability is psychological, like a panic attack. When gorgeous and popular Nash takes a sudden interest in Kaylee, and seems to know a lot about these visions she has, however, Kaylee begins to wonder if maybe she's not crazy. It turns out, Kaylee is a bean sidhe (or "banshee"): a mythical death herald. Screaming and wailing for the nearly deceased is part of who, or what she is. Nash knows this because he is a bean sidhe too, only he has the ability to guide souls that have recently departed their bodies. Together, Kaylee and Nash have to figure out why beautiful and healthy girls keep dropping dead at their high school. Can two bean sidhes in love save their classmates before it's too late?

Review: Creative, original and entertaining, My Soul To Take, the first book in the Soul Screamers series by Rachel Vincent, is a delight for any fan of monsters, vampires, ghosts, faeries, and other paranormal creatures. The novel begins with Kaylee experiencing a vision of death right away. Instead of opening with back-story and an introduction of the characters, Vincent gets the action started immediately, capturing the reader's interest from the start. The rest of the novel is devoted to expanding on the characters of Kaylee and Nash, and the history of the bean sidhe, all while moving forward with the plot. The result is a page-turner that is difficult to put down until the conclusion. In an almost Harry Potter fashion, it is revealed that Kaylee comes from a long long of bean sidhe, her father, mother, even her uncle Brendon are all bean sidhes. The reader discovers along with Kaylee the extent of her powers, the truth behind her life, and how she can use her abilities. Instead of observing Kaylee from the outside, Vincent places the reader right in the plot with her, creating an exciting experience that teens, and adults, will love. The novel also sets the stage for the other books in the series, keeping the reader interested in learning more about Kaylee and Nash, and seeing what kind of situations they will undoubtedly encounter in the future. Vincent's writing style is also very relevant for teens. Kaylee acts and speaks like a typical sixteen-year-old girl, despite the fact that she is a bean sidhe, and teen readers will identify with her feelings and attitudes. Overall, My Soul To Take is a must-read for teens who enjoy the genre.
Genre: Fiction/Horror

Reading level: Grade 7+
Similar titles: Rest of the Soul Screamers series, Hereafter by Tara Hudson.

Themes: Bean sidhes (banshees), demons, netherworld, mythology/lore, high school.
Awards/reviews: New York Times bestselling author. Positive review Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Kirkus Reviews.
Series information: First novel in the Soul Screamers series by Rachel Vincent. Other titles: My Soul to Save (2010), My Soul to Keep (2010), My Soul to Steal (2011), If I Die (September 2011).
Novellas in the series: Reaper (2010) and My Soul to Lose (2009). My Soul to Lose is available online free at !

Discussion Questions:

- What did you know about bean sidhes (banshees) before reading this novel? Did you learn anything about them?

- How would you feel if you were Kaylee and learned that you were actually a bean sidhe?

- What did you think of who the actual villain was in this novel? Were you surprised?

- Do you think religion played a role in Rachel Vincent's writing of this story? Why or why not?

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