Hello All! I know it’s been a while since my last book review, but I assure you the wait was well worth it. This book I’m discussing today is absolutely incredible. I recently read The Girl Who Could See by Kara Swanson, and not only is the cover stunning, the story is as well.
So, what’s it about?
All her life, Fern has thought she’s crazy. Her imaginary friend, an armored warrior named Tristan, appeared during the darkest days of her childhood and never left when she grew up. But when Tristan starts warning Fern about a danger to the entire world, she’ll have to let go of her desire to be normal and embrace the fact that she may be the only one who can truly see.
This YA novella walks the line between urban fantasy and sci-fi dystopian in my opinion. It’s a bit like Legion by Brandon Sanderson. My usual complaint with novellas is that they often feel lacking, but Kara Swanson delivered a complete story arc with a richer plot and more vibrant characters than many full length novels currently sitting on the YA shelf. I devoured it in a single night, unable to stop turning pages as the tension throttled forward.
While the plot was excellently executed with high stakes and pulse-pounding moments, it was the characters who truly built the core of this story. Fern pulls the reader in with her unique “psychosis,” fractured hope, and yearning for a healed life. Her voice is raw and authentic, yet full of strength and love. I loved her natural growth and rooted for her the whole way through.
Tristan’s selflessness and desire to protect makes him easy to admire, though we never got his perspective. The relationship between him and Fern, especially with their banter, balanced out the some of the intense, emotionally painful scenes. One of my few critiques is that “smirk” is frequently used to describe his expression. A few times is fine, but it got to the point of seeming a little repetitive.
My main critique with this novella is that some of the descriptions were occasionally a little confusing. With one scene in particular, I found myself rereading it, unsure exactly what to picture. This is a small issue, though, and the description overall was fairly clear.
Without getting into spoilers, I just want to note that the ending absolutely blew me away. It’s explosive and intense, but it’s also more than that. It hits you in the gut as Fern’s arc is brought to a point of courage, heartbreak, realization, and beauty. At it’s foundation, this book weaves a story of selflessness– of using your unique placement and gifts to help others even when it hurts. It displays the healing that arises when we choose to care more about others than ourselves.
In conclusion, I’m still a little stunned at how invested in the characters, romance, and events Kara Swanson was able to get me. This book was compelling and authentic, hopeful and beautiful. I can’t wait to pick up Kara’s Peter Pan retelling, Dust, that comes out later this month. Highly recommend. 5 out of 5 stars.