Paranormal Young Adult
Received through Teen Book Scene for review
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Mikayla doesn't want much: just to rock out to her favorite band, become the next Kwiki Stop video gaming champion, and keep her Q-tip habit under control. What she does want is the sight of the sudden inexplicable dark auras around everyone to stop. Problem is, those auras are demons and Mikayla is the last trait holder with the power to ban them. Which is a total buzz kill.
To make matters worse, the town folk of Sulphur Springs don't look the same, and her classmates are a little dark in the eyes. There are murders, suicides, reckless skinny-dipping, gratuitous use of Q-tips, and newfound powers that Mikayla must learn to control.
Her past becomes present when a shape-shifter tells her what her true identity is, and how to keep the demons of Hell from nipping at her Converse. Through him she'll discover who to trust, who to kiss, and how valuable her abilities are to the right beings. Because the evils of Hell aren't staying down without a fight...
Or without her soul.
Reading Watched is somewhat akin to being tossed into the deep end of a pool with little or no warning while our surety of our ability to tread water is far less than absolute, and so we begin this tale left to our own devices, floundering to catch our breath and open our eyes despite the sting and disorientation in trying to do so. We struggle a bit as Mikayla is brutally attacked, her understanding of what’s happening to her chaotic and bizarre, fed to us in flashes and short sentences that give us just a few moments to claw our heads above water and search out the familiar before we are plunged back under. So much of the world Ms. Richardson has created is darkly intriguing, however, we are given pieces of so many different aspects to Mikayla’s new existence without any of them fully expounded upon that we find ourselves continually searching for–but not finding–the footing that will allow us to break the surface, blink away the excess drops of water, and finally see clearly.
Mikayla has a the potential to be an extraordinarily strong and memorable heroine, her snarky attitude amusing and her ability to digest her new supernatural role in life admirable, but at times the overabundance of teenage slang that falls from her mouth dilutes some of the richness we know is there. This “teenage speak” is most apparent in the beginning chapters, but luckily it seems to taper off a bit as the story progresses though every once in a while it’s as though we’re listening to a favorite record, completely absorbed in the sound and the lyrics until all of a sudden Mikayla resorts to that slang and causes the record to skip, jolting us from our reverie. By the end a tenuous bond has formed, one that could easily strengthen depending on how she grows in subsequent books or one that could just as easily fizzle, fading away to nothing because some of her phrases and mannerisms block our way to knowing the girl behind them.
In addition to a young woman we definitely want to get to know better despite our inability to figure out how to crack her shell, we also find ourselves challenged by the seeming immensity of her role as a Hunter of demons. Terms are tossed around but not fully defined, her past is oh-so briefly alluded to but never illuminated, and her relationship with Sentry Lucas we're told is complicated for reasons that have yet to be revealed to us. By the time we reach the last page, even the most unorganized of us has an almost overwhelming desire to make a chart that details all the things we know and compare them to the colossal number of questions we have remaining, however before we can we're quickly catapulted out of the story on a cliffhanger that leaves us blinking in disbelief.
Overall, despite the confusing nature of how we are introduced to the world of demon hunting, this is an entertaining read with a very tense and interesting relationship between Mikayla and Lucas that could easily turn into one of those unforgettable and deliciously difficult romances. The desire to know more outweighs the slight frustration of being left with so many things unaddressed, and I will certainly be continuing on to see if Mikayla allows herself that growth and maturity I know is there waiting.