Book Review: Gifted

Gifted (Hayven Series #1)
Author: J.A. George
Publication Date: 2016
Page Count: 236
Buy it at Amazon
Source: e-book provided by author
Audience: Young Adult - Urban Fantasy

Jessica George has created a new and exciting world, with beautiful places and people and an underlying evil that threatens to destroy it all.

In Gifted, Ava is living at university, away from home and family, taking each day as it comes, nothing of importance ever changing her day-to-day life. Then one night all that changes when she witnesses the strange death of an old woman.  Odd things start happening, she can hear other's thoughts, has strange visions, and knows a person just by touching them.  Soon, she meets other people with strange abilities like hers, they are gifted and now she is too. But it's not all sunshine and roses for Ava and her new found abilities.  As she embraces her new gifts and makes new friends, she also must deal with the death of the woman who gave her these powers because it wasn't an accident. Evil is coming back to Hayven, the city Ava has grown to love along with her new friends, and they must find a way to stop it before it destroys everything they hold dear.

I really loved this book.  I loved the story line and the characters, good and bad; and the new world the author created sounds amazing.  George described Hayven beautifully and it's someplace I would love to visit.  You can tell there is background to each new friend Ava makes, and you want to read more about them, find out how they each came to be at that point in their lives and how they found out about their abilities.  I love how each gift is different, no two people have the same, they are each unique as well as the colors each gifted person produces.  It's an endless rainbow.  I love the idea.

 I felt as if there were a lot of characters, almost too many, and as more were introduced, the first ones just sort of drifted off the pages. Ava has several friends at her university, but as she meets her new, "gifted" friends, the ordinary ones get lost.  It's almost like her first group of friends is replaced by her second group. This can happen in real life as well and if this is what the author was trying to do or show, then I feel like she could have done it in a better or different way.  By the end of the book, the scenes with her original friends almost seem pointless and inconsequential, they have no bearing on what is going on in the story at all and could have been left out.  If they do play a bigger role in later books, then again I feel like it could have been handled differently.

The plot line reminded me a bit of Harry Potter.  An evil, magical person along with dark-robed followers wants to take over and rule their world.  Those who do not willingly follow are threatened and coerced into joining their side. They fought and were pushed back once, most think they are dead, but others know the truth, and it's up to the new generation to stop their evil plots once again. That's just a general overview of both Harry Potter and Gifted, but the similarities are there.  I think in this day and age, it's hard for any magical or fantasy story not to be compared to Harry Potter in some way, but the trick to standing apart from it is the uniqueness of it, the ideas that are only that author's; and I think Jessica George has enough of that to let Gifted be its own story.  As I said before, I love the way the gifts are unique to each person, the friends have to figure out ways to use their gifts together to fight against Madrina and her followers.  The world behind Hayven and Nevaya is so unique and fun, I would love to see more of it, learn more about the residents and what their gifts are.

I am looking forward to reading the continuing story of Ava and her new friends and of seeing Ava's new gifts develop more. We are left at the end of the first book wanting so much more. I was disappointed when the story ended, there are so many unanswered questions and I can't wait to find the answers in the following books.

One Last Thought: There were a few things brought up in the book that never went anywhere. Ava's weight issue is one example. I know there are other books to be written in the series, and they will hopefully be revisited then, but I would have liked a bit more closure.

Favorite Thing About This Book:  I loved how artistic Ava was and how she was able to capture each of her friends' colors exactly and how her visions drove her to draw more and became so much more intense.  I am hoping this develops into more in the following books.  I can imagine how beautiful they must be and I would love to see her artwork for real.

First Sentence: Someone was watching me.

Favorite Character: Ava

Least Favorite Character: Summer