Thursday, 24 February 2011

Book Review: Haven by Kristi Cook.


Product details:
Publisher: Simon Pulse.
Hardcover, 416 pages.
Release date: February 22nd 2011.
Rating: 3½ out of 5.
Ages: 14+
Source: Simon & Schuster Galley Grab.

One month into her junior year, sixteen-year-old Violet McKenna transfers to the Winterhaven School in New York’s Hudson Valley, inexplicably drawn to the boarding school with high hopes. Leaving Atlanta behind, she’s looking forward to a fresh start--a new school, and new classmates who will not know her deepest, darkest secret, the one she’s tried to hide all her life: strange, foreboding visions of the future.

But Winterhaven has secrets of its own, secrets that run far deeper than Violet’s. Everyone there--every student, every teacher--has psychic abilities, 'gifts and talents,' they like to call them. Once the initial shock of discovery wears off, Violet realizes that the school is a safe haven for people like her. Soon, Violet has a new circle of friends, a new life, and maybe even a boyfriend--Aidan Gray, perhaps the smartest, hottest guy at Winterhaven.

Only there’s more to Aidan than meets the eye--much, much more. And once she learns the horrible truth, there’s no turning back from her destiny. Their destiny. Together, Violet and Aidan must face a common enemy--if only they can do so without destroying each other first.


Kristi Cook’s debut novel Haven is a quick, fun read and a total page turner, with a feisty female protagonist and lots of surprising plot twists to boot. Boarding school paranormals are a great weakness of mine, and when they come equipped with a hot love interest, then I’m pretty much sold. While this one contains all the elements you know and love from boarding school paranormals you’ve read in the past, Cook adds an element of surprise that allows this one to stand on its own. I also found Cook’s writing style a joy to read. The prose flows effortlessly, making this one a total page-turner. Haven is a fast paced read, and contains a great bunch of characters that I loved getting to know. Certain characters also struck me as being a little more mature than those I usually encounter in YA fiction, which adds to the crossover appeal of the book.

Winterhaven is a boarding school with a difference. For one, only pupils who have psychic abilities are accepted at Winterhaven, and these pupils are drawn to the school by some strange, unexplained means. In effect, the school chooses them, and that’s how Violet McKenna finds herself enrolling as a student at Winterhaven. Violet has a pretty tragic past, and has always felt like an outsider amongst her friends and family because of her psychic ability. This comes in the form of prophetic visions which allow her to foresee mostly bad things that are going to happen to the people closest to her. While she finds it hard to relate to people in the outside world because of this, she soon forms a close group of friends at Winterhaven, each with a very special gift of their own.

The girls that Violet meets at Winterhaven, and the friendships formed were realistic and easy to relate to, and were my favourite aspect of this book. Violet’s various friendships were well developed and while there are a few teething issues between Violet and some of the girls there is no jealously or bitchiness and the typically mean-girls element so often present in boarding school books is notably, and refreshingly absent here.

While at Winterhaven, Violet also meets the mysterious and elusive Aidan Gray, the brooding hero of the piece. To say that Aidan is a tortured soul is an understatement. While the guy is undeniably hot, he’s definitely got issues! Nevertheless, Violet is instantly drawn to Aidan, and the feeling is definitely mutual. What these two don’t immediately know is that their destinies are inextricably linked, and not in a good way either! Even though their connection is explained through the story, Aidan and Violet didn’t totally work as a couple for me. Their relationship is tumultuous to say the least, and yet these two totally and utterly fall in love very quickly indeed. For me, the chemistry between them was a little off, and I found it difficult to warm to Aidan, but then he is harbouring some big secrets, which made me wary of him right from the start. And, when I say big, I mean it in a pretty huge! When Aidan’s secrets are revealed, the book definitely takes off in a direction that I wasn’t expecting.

With this one set to be the first in a series, there are a couple of unanswered questions here and things are set up very nicely for the next book. While I definitely had a couple of issues with this one, I  very much enjoyed it overall, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how Aidan and Violet deal with the major obstacles lying ahead of them. This one is a fun, entertaining read, and a great debut!

22 comments :

  1. Mature YA characters always appeal to me. Haven seems like a great read, different from the recent YA paranormal romances. I am glad to hear about the absence of "mean-girls" element which has been overdone in other books.
    Thanks for the review!

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  2. I'm surprised that you say that Haven took off in a direction you weren't expecting because, frankly, I spent a great deal of the book hoping that my suspicions were unfounded and groaning when they were confirmed instead. I also felt that Violet's friendships with the other girls was a little too intimate to fast, especially for a girl who formerly eschewed intimacy.

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  3. I have trouble with Aidan and Violet constantly going back and forth. But the writing was easy to read. Overall though I thought it was a good start and I am interested in seeing where the series go too. Great read.

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  4. Sounds like a fun read. Has anyone else noticed the huge numbers of butterflies on upcoming covers???
    I like it, just wondering why the trend.

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  5. I like fast-paced books but the characterization issues are a bit worrisome. Still, I am definitely interested in reading this one and enjoyed reading your thoughts on this one.

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  6. Thanks for your review !! I look forward to read this one !! I hope the unanswered questions will get answers in the sequel !! =)

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  7. The Aidan effect! I admit this boy Aidan had me swooning a lot. I loved the book. Great review!

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  8. I can't wait to get around to reading this one. I love it when books have a great group of characters and realistic relationships.

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  9. @Misha - it's definitely a fun read, especially if you love the Boarding School Paranormals like I do!

    @Ruby - I guess we had different reactions to this one. I think I was maybe a bit slow on the uptake regarding Aidan, but I totally stand by my thoughts on the friendships Violet formed. Winterhaven is the first place she ever felt people understood and accepted her.

    @Nic - Talk about back & forth - these two are worse than Chuck & Blair in Gossip Girl! It annoyed me too, and then I remembered that I had a similar relationship as a teen. We were similarly besotted, but still broke up and got back together every three days or so. lol!

    @Amber - I haven't really noticed the butterfly trend. I must keep an eye out!

    @Savy - The Aidan effect! Oh yes! I can see the appeal, but I have just fallen madly in love with Vincent from Die for Me and I don't have time for another book boyfriend so soon! ;)

    Thanks for the comments, guys! :)

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  10. Fabulous review, Leanna! I don't love the cover, but the book sounds amazing. Loved your review, and I'm definitely dying to read this one :)

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  11. I love boarding school paranormals as well, so I will definitely have to check this one out. I'm bummed that you feel that the love connection didn't work; I hate when that happens! Nonetheless, I think I will have to check this one out- you made it sound pretty entertaining! Great review!

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  12. I have seen a lot of great reviews about this book and I am quite excited to read it! Thanks for the great review!
    ;)

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  13. I'm curious to find out about the mystery in this book. The way you described the relationship makes me wonder if I'll like it, but it sounds like the plot is good enough to make the book worth reading even if I don't love the relationship. Thank you for such a balanced and thorough review!

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  14. I can't wait to read this one, I'm so glad to know you enjoyed it Leanna! Aidan sounds like an absolutely fascinating character, I actually like the ones I'm wary of, they keep me on my toes:) And I of course am a fan of a feisty female lead, so this one sounds perfect for me! Thanks for such a thorough and fabulous review, I can't wait to get my hands on this book!

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  15. I certainly didn't mean to imply that you should feel the way I did when I read Haven. If we all felt the same way, why would we bother discussing books at all. And I agree that Winterhaven was the first place that Violet felt she was understood and accepted. I just felt that they got too close too fast. Which, admittedly, happens. Teenage girls are as prone to platonic girlfriend crushes as they are to the more romantic kind.

    And, Amber, what other book covers have butterflies? The only other one I can think of is an already released title (The Adoration of Jenna Fox). Actually--wait--I think one of the Wicked Lovely books does. Yep, I checked. It's Fragile Eternity.

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  16. I really enjoyed Violet's fiestiness, it made me happy. The Aiden effect-- yah!! :)

    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

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  17. I already have this book added to my wishlist and I cannot wait to read this story. I do have to say that I'm a bit tired of the dark mysterious bad boy. Where is the cute, serious loving good boy?? lol. Great review.

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  18. LOL Nina :D I really like the sound of it and he sounds like my type of dude hehehe. Fab review missy!

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  19. I'm so looking forward to reading this! I love books about boarding schools! I like that there aren't any mean girls at the school. That is refreshing! Love the names in the book. Violet is one of my fave names. I'm wondering if the butterfly plays into the story.

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  20. @Julie - The butterfly doesn't play into the story at all, unless that's going to happen in later books. I was trying to think of any reason it might feature so prominently on the cover, but I came up blank!

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  21. l don't understand about the butterfly before!
    Like you said, maybe it will play a part in the next book or something!

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  22. Wow this one sounds great. Terrific review :D

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