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Publisher: St. Martin's Press
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When Wendy Everly was six-years-old, her mother was convinced she was a monster and tried to kill her. It isn't until eleven years later that Wendy discovers her mother might have been right. With the help of Finn Holmes, Wendy finds herself in a world she never knew existed - a world both beautiful and frightening, and Wendy's not sure she wants to be a part of it.
On her 6th birthday, Wendy's mother decided the kitchen knife was better used on her daughter than the birthday cake. She's been in an asylum ever since and Wendy's grown up with her older brother, Matt, and their Aunt Maggie. Wendy hasn't been the easiest child to deal with over the years - incredibly fussy and oftentimes bratty, but that could be a result of emotional trauma from a psychotic mother trying to kill you, right? Maybe not. When Finn, the new guy at school, refuses to take his eyes off Wendy (emitting serious creepy vibe), she soon discovers she's a troll - more specifically, a changeling - and he's been sent to bring her home. Maybe her mother wasn't so insane afterall.
I liked that Wendy showed potential to be a strong, kickbutt heroine from the start. She did lose some of that upon arrival at Förening, where live a community of 'trolls' known as Trylle, but I suppose having to face an intimidating Queen when you first arrive will make you just a teensy bit submissive. I'm pleased that she did show that streak of stubborn rebellion again, particularly toward the end. I was weirdly intrigued by Finn when we first saw him. Yes, he gave off a creepy stalker vibe at the start and was very hot and cold with Wendy (a lot of which mildly amused me), but there was something about him that drew me in, just as it did Wendy. And as we learned more about him, I found it hard not to love his character. He's a protector, he's strong and sticks by his morals. And also a Tracker, who are considered lower class among the Trylle, which rules out any hope of a relationship given Wendy's higher status. But despite the impossibility of a love ever happening, they can't fight their growing feelings and the lingering attraction builds and builds until it demands to be unleashed.
I adored many of the secondary characters, Rhys and Tove in particular. While I guessed the twist with Rhys the moment I met him, he was so sweet and vibrant and added this light-hearted air to the novel. Tove was a fascinating character. At first quiet and perhaps a little weird, he later reveals more of himself and you see what amazing potential lie within him. And he's actually quite a fun guy once he allows himself to open up.
The paranormal aspect hooked me in even before I started reading. Trolls. But not as you know them. Most would instantly think towering green monsters who grunt. Or that one time when Harry, Ron and Hermione had a friendly run-in with one and become BFF's forever. But Hocking has crafted something much more appealing here. Most of them are much like humans in appearance and intellect, except for their ability to draw magic from the earth. One aspect of their powers reminded a little of Vampire Academy in the way Moroi's rely so heavily on the dhampir's to protect them, despite having such powerful magic at their disposal. The same can be said about the Trylle. The magic in so many of their population has been long forgotten because they fail to practice it anymore and when trouble does strike from the Vittra, a warring tribe, they rely on their Trackers to use brute force. But it's not enough, especially when the Vittra are growing in number and skill. I'm really curious to see where this is headed. I want to see more of the community rekindle their lost magic and I'm especially eager to see Wendy grow into her powers.
Amanda has taken a common setup - girl meets boy, discovers she's special - and spun her own refreshing take with a flavour of supernatural I rarely see in YA. And when I do ever see trolls, they're certainly painted in a much uglier shade of green! Switched is a quick, fast-paced read with likable characters, intriguing politics and forbidden romance. The ending will have you eager to pick up the next book to dive back into Wendy's adventure!
4/5 Golden Apples!
GIVEAWAY: WIN A SIGNED COPY OF SWITCHED!
Thanks to the amazing folks at St. Martin's Press, I have one signed copy of Switched to giveaway! If you want to win a copy of this fabulous read, then just fill out the form below. Good luck!!
Ends January 15th 2012