Book Review: Golden

Golden (Golden #1)
Narrated By: Jenna Lamia
Published By: Brilliance Audio
Publication Date: July 2006
Length: 5 hours, 50 minutes
Buy it at Amazon or IndieBound
Source: Library
Audience: Young Adult - Paranormal

On the Writing & Story:

I heard Jennifer Lynn Barnes speak at the Smart Chicks tour stop in Seattle earlier this year. I was really intrigued by her background as a writer (she started publishing works in her teens) and her life experiences. One doesn't often hear of someone who has been both a competitive cheerleader and a primate researcher. She is such an interesting person. I have her wolf series to read, but I wanted a taste of her writing now so I looked up what audiobooks my local library had available. The only title that popped up was Golden; I had never heard of this series, but I figured I could give it a try. Golden wasn't the best I've read this year, but it was interesting and kept me laughing.

Golden focuses on Lissy James, a teen who has the sight. Lissy isn't too happy about this gift that seems to plague the female members of her family, but there isn't much she can do about it. Lissy sees the color of peoples' auras and that allows her to understand their personalities and gives her insight into their actions. In addition, she can also see the connections that bind people together in relationships. As Lissy is struggling to cope with moving from California to Oklahoma and fitting into a new social scene, she is also finding out more about her gift and how it works. She soon learns that she can untie or strengthen the connections between people. She's also shocked to learn that she can even create new connections based on her knowledge of aura colors. The books spends most of its time unveiling Lissy's gifts and her exploration of them. It almost felt like too much at times. However, my patience was rewarded when the investigation of the math teacher began. I found that element of the plot to be the one that truly kept me listening to this one. I also enjoyed learning more about the color of the auras.

Golden wasn't a horrible book and it has lots of merits, but it just fell flat for me. I found myself being irked with elements one second and in love with them the next. For example, Lissy frustrated me and I didn't really like her for most of the book, but then her inner voice would turn on and she'd having me cracking up. The humor was by far one of the biggest strengths of Barnes' writing in this one. I'm curious to see if it makes appearances in her other works.

I suppose my biggest complaint is that this book was just mediocre for me.  There wasn't anything unique or compelling to make me want to finish this one in a hurry. It was slightly predictable. However, with all that being said, I'm still impressed that Barnes was able to craft something of the caliber at such a young age. I am still going to read her newer works, but I don't know that I will go out of my way to finish this series.

On the Audio:

I suppose I could blame some of my feelings about Lissy on the fact that this was an audiobook. I seem to allow the narrator's voice and interpretation of the characters to dictate how I feel about them. Jenna Lamia's voice in this one was whiny and grated on my nerves. I have listened to other books that she has narrated and I have not had the same issue. I don't know what is was about this one. I would suggest avoiding the audio version and reading this in traditional format. There was also music between each chapter of this one; it actually annoyed me and often would jolt me out of my reverie.

One Last Gripe: There were so many hidden gems in this one. I just feel like they got buried beneath the mundane.

My Favorite Thing About This Book: The powers of those with the sight

Favorite Character: Dylan

Least Favorite Character: Fuschia

When Lissy James moves from California to Oklahoma, she finds herself in the middle of a teenage nightmare: a social scene to rival a Hollywood movie. And as if understanding the hierarchy of the Goldens vs. the Nons isn't hard enough, Lissy's ever-growing Aura Vision is getting harder and harder to hide. If she's not careful, she's going to become a Non faster than you can say “freak.”

But it's becoming clear that Emory High has a few secrets of its own. Around the halls, the term “special powers” goes way beyond one's ability to attract the opposite sex, and there may be something more evil than the A-crowd lurking in the classrooms. Lissy can see a lot more than the average girl, but she's about to learn the hard way that things aren't always as they appear and you can't always judge a girl by her lip gloss.