Laurel has never had much in common with other teenagers. For one thing, she has been home-schooled for all of her life, and is something of an introvert. In her sophomore year, Laurels parents move and decide that it is time for her to attend a public school, and Laurel realizes how different she really is from her classmates. Its not just her home-schooled, hippie background or peculiar vegan and sprite-only diet; nor is it just because of her beautiful, willowy looks or her affinity for the woods and sunlight. One day, Laurel discovers a welt on her back that simply wont go away&and it grows, blooming into a pair of stunningly beautiful, wing-like petals. Frightened and completely alone, Laurel turns to her new friend David for help and comfort, and she learns just how different from everyone else she really is. Aprilynne Pikes debut novel Wings has received rave reviews from YA critics, and has garnered comparisons to Stephenie Meyers uber-popular Twilight saga (even scoring a cover quote from Ms. Meyer) which is apt. Wings shares the same enchanting otherworldly feel with Twilight, as well as the awkward, pretty new girl in town premise but thats where the comparison ends. Why? Because in this reviewers opinion, Wings outshines Twilight in every possible way. Wings is a lush, beautifully written novel that encompasses romance, an imaginative spin on the realm of faerie, thrilling action and a strong heroine that would mop the floor with Bella Swan. Fifteen year-old Laurel sets herself part from the people she meets at school, feeling claustrophobic in the air conditioned classrooms and covered cafeterias but instead of passively going with the flow and trying to fit in, she prefers to sit outside in the sunlight on her own. A few reviews seem to take issue with the books slower start, dealing with the day to day musings and uncertainties of Laurel but this appeals to me, as a reader and grounds Laurel as a tangible, sympathetic character. When David talks to her, she welcomes his friendship and later confides in him when she cannot tell her adoptive parents exactly how different she is from everyone else but shes very careful not to lose herself in Davids comfort, or let her life become defined by their relationship. With Davids support and quiet strength, Laurel comes to grips with exactly who and what she is in a very nice twist on the faerie myth, and also a refreshing twist on the traditional girl falls for supernaturally sexy boy story. I have to admit that I loved Laurels mettle and her positive attitude; despite the immense changes she is going through (and growing a giant flower out of ones back is a pretty dramatic change!), Laurel keeps her wits about her. It is Laurel that discovers what her true parentage is; it is Laurel who recognizes the danger that threatens her family, and who saves them all from danger. As a strong, non-passive heroine, Laurel totally rocks. As a romantic novel, Wings is completely, winsomely enchanting. Theres a love triangle, which is to be expected in line with the Twilight comparisons but the very human and calmly dependable David juxtaposed against the emotional, supernatural charmer Tamani are much more fleshed out as characters and more desirable (in my opinion) than the tawdry Edward and Jacob. I think what I appreciate the most about this blossoming love story is that it is not founded on obsession or unrealistic premises Laurel is cautious with her emotions, and does not recklessly pin her entire self-worth on her truest of true loves. Both characters have their very different appeals, and the triangle is far from concluded sure to draw some intense David or Tam debates. At this point, the triangle is engaging and fresh I just hope Ms. Pike can keep the appeal going in the next few books without slipping into contrivance (Im always a little ary when starting into a love triangle story. Somehow I always end up rooting for the losing guy.) So far as plotting and world-building are concerned, Wings is deftly written and freshly original. I wont spoil the particular twist, but suffice to say that I was intrigued by Ms. Pikes take on faerie. Theres action and danger aplenty in this novel as well, as a mysterious stranger tries to buy Laurels family land and threatens her family with mortal consequences. Murderous plots, death-defying escapes, magic and romance abound in Wings whats not to love? I finished Ms. Pikes lovely debut in a single sitting, and cannot wait for the next installment in the series.