Publisher's Note:  

"You will never read another shapeshifter book like this. Every surprise will catch you unwary. And, like me, you will find that others will have to pry it out of your fingers." -Tamora Pierce, bestselling author "Alma Alexander has created a gripping and complicated story of family loyalty and teenage rebellion. [..] An excellent start to a brave new series." -Ysabeau Wilce, award-winning author of the Flora Segunda series RANDOM My name is Jazz Marsh. I am a Random Were, which means I am a Were of no fixed form - like all Random Were, my family can become any warm-blooded creature which is the last thing they see before they Turn. For me, when my time came, that meant... trouble. I was quite young when I lost my older sister, Celia, and my family never spoke about her. It was only when I found the secret diaries that she had left behind that I began to discover the truth behind her life and her death. I never understood what drove my moody and dangerous older brother until I began to get an inkling about his part in Celia's death... and until, driven to the edge of patience and understanding, he finally had to face his own Turn problems... and disastrously took matters into his own hands. One thing is clear. Everything I thought I knew about Were-kind was wrong. THIS IS BOOK ONE IN THE WERECHRONICLES SERIES.

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Palomino Press

Random (The Were Chronicles #1)

by Alma Alexander

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Overall Review:  

Author Alma Alexander's latest YA series, The Were Chronicles, perpetuates speed with its starter novel, Random (The Were Chronicles #1). A befitting title for the novel, it will seem to readers as if Ms. Alexander selected the most evasively random ideas and somehow created not only a cohesive crossover of subjects, but a stellar one at that. The plot is complicated with twists that are startling, but it all comes together, though albeit not wrapped in a nice, little box topped with a bow. If that is what you're looking for, move on because this story cannot be caged.

In a contemporary setting readers are introduced to the normal:  a family that has secrets, and a teen who thinks their family is so weird that it's physically painful for them. (The agony!) Readers are also introduced to the not so normal:  a family that has shape-shifting abilities, that holds their secrets in a closet and the basement. (The horror!) Introspectively told by female teen protagonist Jazz Marsh, her story and point of view parallel other stories (mainly her sister Celia's), with Jazz narrating throughout.

Jazz knows her family isn't normal in the traditional sense, but when she finds her deceased older sister's diaries, things come to the surface that bring on an unexpected shift for Jazz.

Those diaries sucked me in like a whirlpool; I drank in the poison of Celia's life in great gulps, and I could feel it changing me as I did that.”

Expect the unexpected, and be prepared to have the sequel Wolf (The Were Chronicles #2) ready to go because after you think you've solved one dilemma a new one pops up, only delving deeper into the secrets of Jazz's family.

I'm finding out secrets. Secrets are out to get me”

Content Analysis:  

Profanity/Language:  5 religious exclamations; 12 mild obscenities; 1 scatological word; 2 anatomical terms.  Note: Ass is used once in its proper term in reference to a donkey; damned is used once not as an obscenity.

Violence/Gore:  Secondhand reports of sibling's death; death is mentioned several times throughout the novel as it is a main theme; secondhand report of humans killing a different species; few (about 5) mentions of character getting into fights, resulting in injuries; secondhand report of relative's murder, no details; implication that character's loved ones are in mortal danger; character is tripped; character pulls character's hair and touches his/her throat in a threatening manner; character feels threatened by a character in a position of authority; character believes another character somehow contributed to their sibling's death; secondhand report of underage character's death by drug overdose, suspected suicide; secondhand report of accidental overdose of minor who partook of a party drug; characters witness the after math of an animal that has eaten another animal, blood mentioned; character admits to verbally threatening another character, details undisclosed.

Sex/Nudity:  Friendly hug between male and female characters; mention of character being naked; brief discussion between characters regarding sex of certain species (use of sexual reference) and impregnating species; character contemplates going without underwear under their clothes; character examines their body (2x) mention of female and male body parts; male character refers to their genitalia as “male equipment”, embarrassed about purchasing underwear and going into the fitting room where other undressed males may be present; female is examined by a female Dr., examination described as “intimate”; extended scene (about 1 page) discussion of hormone production, pregnancy, and female cycle; character is confused about their gender/change of gender (fantasy element, not approached in a contemporary fashion, i.e. surgery, drag, transgender identity.)

Mature Subject Matter:  

Bullying, drug use of minor(s), teen suicide, discrimination/prejudice, dealing with bodily changes, adult's misuse of authority, death, death of a family member.

Alcohol / Drug Use:  

Character mentions they need a shot of brandy; cocktails are served at an event/party; mention of the illegal selling and distribution of a prescription drugs, minors involved; mention of overdose resulting in death of minor by party drug; mention of sibling's death by overdose of prescription drug.

Reviewed By MaryLou
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