Review Detail

Young Adult Fiction 947
A non-stop thrill ride sure to leave you breathless
Overall rating 
 
4.3
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
Some time ago I read that sophomore books are much like sophomore record albums or movies. The enigmatic sophomore curse. The fight to keep the momentum going from a great debut, but only to fall short. DEVIATE by Tracy Clark is a sophomore book for The Light Key Trilogy and it blows this curse business to smithereens. Ka-Boom!

Deviate picks up right where Scintillate left off, and let me tell you, the action doesn’t stop. Cora is knee deep in trouble after the big show down with the Arrazi in Ireland. Finn is lost to her, in more ways than one. Her father was murdered right in front of her. Her mother is a basket case after years of torture. Only Giovanni holds her together at this point, but her feelings for him are seriously conflicted.

After being marked with tattoo-like scars through a trippy version of psychometry called a sortilege, Cora has more questions than ever regarding the Scintilla, the Arrazi, and the origins of her race. Why is her talent to see memories in objects? Why only certain memories? Do the memories mean anything? Why do the Scintilla see auras, but not the Arrazi? Why is the Scintilla aura silver and why does a freshly fed Arrazi glow with a white aura rather than a mixed hue of normal humans? And possibly the biggest question, why does Clancy, Finn’s uber sadistic uncle, want three Scintilla?

As Cora begins the next stage of her journey, these questions plague her. The significance of “three” is everywhere, but she has no idea what it means. She and Giovanni pick apart the works of Dante, searching for an answer to the “three” mystery. It’s obvious Dante knew of the Scintilla, but how? With each breakthrough in the Scintilla origins and secrets, more questions arise.

Just as Cora battles for answers, Finn fights a battle within himself. He knows what he is, and despises it. He doesn’t want to kill in order to live. Knowing he could never be good for Cora, his heart, Finn wants to die. He’d rather fade into a dark nothingness than take an innocent life. But how can he protect Cora if he’s dead? If only he could get an inside line on what Clancy is up to, whose side he’s really on, and what this mysterious Society is. Then maybe he could find a way to protect the girl he loves.

When I heard about the “sophomore curse” with novels, I also heard the best way to beat this handicap is to tear-your-characters-apart! Tracy Clark does this. Oh, boy does she ever! Cora is essentially broken at the end of Scintillate. Through the course of Deviate, Cora is crushed—pulverized even—on both physical and emotional levels. How she can take such beating and keep putting one foot in front of the other is amazing. Her lows get lower, and her highs…? Just enough to tease before something else blows her hope apart.

Finn’s journey is not any less tortured. His heart was ripped from his chest in Scintillate, but Deviate takes his heart, exposes every nook and cranny of hope he has in reuniting with Cora and incinerates it. Flambé style! He’s pushed to do the hard things he doesn’t want to do, to make the hard choices. Finn must decide what he’ll do, how much he will sacrifice, for love. And will it be worth it?

Now, when I say Tracy Clark tears these characters down, it’s not in a depressing way. Not at all. She takes Cora and Fin to the end of their will, to their point of breaking, and then makes them choose how to go forward. The arcs for both Finn and Cora are incredible. The two are on separate journeys, but they constantly cross, almost as if one is dependent on the other. They are on this journey together, whether they’re physically together or not.

The pacing is wonderful. Deviate is of the thicker variety for young adult fiction, but it’s so, so good. If it’s been a while since you’ve read Scintillate, don’t worry. Clark doesn’t spend too much time on the recap, which is great. She cleverly peppers it in so you don’t lose traction with the new storyline. Like I said, we start with some action and intrigue, and it just keeps going.

Let me just take a moment here to talk about Cora and Finn. Finn… I love Finn. But I love Cora, too! She’s very real, and the decisions she makes are very relatable. She doesn’t always choose the best path, but that’s life. Once she and her mom sort of bond, I may have teared up a bit. I’m a momma’s girl, after all. And Finn had the same effect on me. He’s flawed, but oh so likeable. Loveable! You want him to succeed, you want them both to succeed because gosh darn it they need to be together!

But there’s also Giovanni. Our big G protector. Tall, built, curly blond hair, and stunning blue eyes topped off with an Italian accent. Yum. He’s far from perfect, though. Giovanni has some serious baggage, but that adds to his allure, even if you’re not sure you can fully trust him. One of my favorite lines from Deviate comes from G: “If I do it right, it will feel like the first time. Every time.” Now, tell me that doesn’t give you the heart flutter!

In the end, Deviate is a show-stopping ride full of dark secrets and wicked intrigue. Tracy Clark creates a fascinating world where everyone’s emotions are plain as day to the Scintilla. How can you hide from the truth when your deepest secrets burst from your form in vibrant hues the likes of the Aurora Borealis? You will cheer with Cora and Finn as they inch toward victory. You will hurt with them as they continue to suffer unfair losses. When the sparks fly as attractions are realized, I challenge you to NOT swoon. Deviate is a fantastic thrill-ride full of hard choices and smart plot that will leave you breathless, whether you’re a teen or a teen-plus-some.
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