Book Review: Banished

Published By: Ember
Publication Date: September 2011 (Paperback Edition)
Page Count: 320
Source: Won in a Giveaway (Thank you, Book Cover Justice!)
Audience: Young Adult - Urban Fantasy

I went into reading this one knowing that it involved some paranormal aspects and that the main character had a rough life, but I was not prepared for the darkness that invaded this story-line. The main character, Hailey, comes from a long line of healers who came to the United States from Ireland with others from their town. The group collectively became known as the Banished. While the Banished females outside of the Tarbell family are not gifted, the men are able to see visions. In the town of Gypsum, Missouri, the Banished have learned to steer clear of Hailey and her grandmother. They fear that the Tarbell women are a curse. 

Hailey has no idea of the power that lurks beneath her skin until a classmate is seriously injured in gym class. This moment is pivotal and causes so many questions to arise. From that moment on, things get intense fast and don't stop until the novel ends. I really enjoyed the fast pace of this one. It was nice after reading so many novels that were heavy on the world building and contained slower rises to the action.

One of my favorite aspects of this book is the lore behind the Banished. I found their gifts and story to be intriguing. I loved finding out more about who these people were and why they left Ireland. I am hoping that in the next book I will learn even more - especially about the group that immigrated to Poland.

My biggest complaint with the novel is that I didn't really connect with any of the characters. I did feel sorry for Hailey and Chub, but it was from a distance. The first section of the book was really hard for me to read. Hailey's life is so far from ideal and the scenes with her grandmother made my stomach churn. Things picked up when Prairie came onto the scene, but even she didn't lure me closer to the characters. 

This book is certainly well written, but the dark nature turned me off more than entertained me. I should have saved this read for a time when that kind of story would have been more appealing. I did enjoy the "project" that Prairie was involved in and the nefarious plan that evolved from her research. The zombie element is also sure to appeal to many readers.

One Last Gripe: I hated some of the names in this one: Prairie, Rattler, Chub. It really irked me that a toddler was named Chub. It seems so cruel.

My Favorite Thing About This Book: In addition to the lore, I liked piecing together the story of Prairie's past.

First Sentence: Waking up hurt.

Favorite Character: Prairie

Least Favorite Character: Rattler

There isn't much worth living for in Gypsum, Missouri, or "Trashtown," as the rich kids call the run down neighborhood where sixteen-year-old Hailey Tarbell lives. As far as Hailey knows, she's never going to belong. Not with the kids at school or with her cruel, sickly grandmother, who keeps their household afloat by dealing drugs out of the basement. 
But Hailey can't help the feeling that she has some kind of gift, or curse, that makes the other kids shy away from her. Hailey is drawn to those in pain, those who need to be healed. And when her dog Rascal is hit by a car, Hailey's gift is revealed. Not only can she heal, she can bring the suffering back to life. And Hailey will soon find out, this power to heal is just the beginning . . .