The Echoing, by Jessica Blackburn, was a book that got better and better as it went along. It is a YA fiction novel that centers around a teenage girl named Rylee, who one day while taking a walk with her dog, encounters a strange blind woman in a hut. She introduces Rylee to a great gift she possesses, and gives her the choice to unlock this gift. Rylee makes that choice, and her life starts to change.
The concept of karma in this book is really interesting. Rylee has the power to bring good luck to those who are kind to her, and bad luck to those who aren’t. As she learns more and more about her gift, though, and continues to encounter the mysterious old woman, she realizes there is much more to her gift than she thought. She can’t help everyone she loves in the ways she wants, and there is one who would do anything to get access to her gift.
Rylee’s character was well-developed over all. It was clear the type of person she was, and though likable, she had noticeable faults, making her more believable and easy to relate to.
This book has everything that a reader would want – romance, friendship, cruelty, evil, courage, and suspense. I must say, some of the last events of the book were brilliantly written. I did feel the suspense, the danger, the burdens, and the heartache. Once an adversary was introduced to the story, as well as more understanding of the old woman, the book really took hold on me.
The Echoing is definitely worth reading, but for me, it wasn’t perfect. For the author’s and readers’ benefit, I wish to share what I didn’t like about the book as well:
The book began with a short prologue that was surprisingly spiritual, and I couldn’t figure out why it was there. After reading the book and going back to it, I get it, but I think there was a better option for the prologue. I think introducing us to the supernatural – perhaps the characters of Esther and Nathaniel, would have been a great way to foreshadow events in the book. Instead, I felt like the supernatural aspect was thrown in out of nowhere.
Some of the characters in the book were too perfect. I can’t think of any real flaws in Rylee’s mother or her childhood friend, Merritt. They were really admirable characters, but would have been much more believable had they had faults to overcome.
Shyler was Rylee’s best friend in the book, and happened to be a Mormon. While I admire the author’s courage in sharing her beliefs in a book setting, I felt that it was really random. Shyler being Mormon didn’t affect Rylee’s decisions or life in any noticeable way, so was thus irrelevant to the story. It felt forced. I also thought it very strange that a devout Mormon would be so attracted to the bad boy of the school, especially based on the way he treated her best friend. That didn’t work for me.
Once things started to get really dangerous and intense for Rylee, her character suddenly stopped acting like a teenager. Surely she would become more mature going through what she did, but she should still have had some characteristics of a teen to remind the reader who she really is.
Overall, I recommend reading this book. I think teens will love it, especially the girls. They will undoubtedly fall head over heels for Merritt, and be connected to Rylee.
*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.