Publication Date: December 27, 2011
Type: Paperback, won
Every other day, Kali D'Angelo is a normal sixteen-year-old girl. She goes to public high school. She attends pep rallies. She's human.
And then every day in between . . .She's something else entirely.
Though she still looks like herself, every twenty-four hours predatory instincts take over and Kali becomes a feared demon-hunter with the undeniable urge to hunt, trap, and kill zombies, hellhounds, and other supernatural creatures. Kali has no idea why she is the way she is, but she gives in to instinct anyway. Even though the government considers it environmental terrorism.
When Kali notices a mark on the lower back of a popular girl at school, she knows instantly that the girl is marked for death by one of these creatures. Kali has twenty-four hours to save her and, unfortunately, she'll have to do it as a human. With the help of a few new friends, Kali takes a risk that her human body might not survive. . .and learns the secrets of her mysterious condition in the process.
I didn't expect to like this so much.
See, paranormals and I, we have a pretty shaky relationship. Sometimes, there's this absolutely fantastic idea, and the book . . . is just as fantastic as the concept. And sometimes, there's an equally fantastic idea, but then I start reading, and my mood sinks further with every page. It's the same as all the rest. Weak protagonist. Frightful love interest. Insta-love that dominates any hints of an actual plot.
I hadn't the faintest which one EVERY OTHER DAY would end up being. Happily, it was the former.
I think the idea is brilliant. I think it was executed brilliantly. This world where paranormal creatures have been known to exist since Darwin--where he, in fact, was the first to discover them--was completely enchanting. Barnes gave us enough detail to get a good idea of this dark, magical, but strangely familiar world without dumping pages worth of flat world-building on the reader's head. I was fascinated by this setting, by the mix of the bizarre and what we accept as normal--this place where hellhounds were on the endangered species list and kids fretted about the mean girls at high school.
I also think the plotting was done wonderfully. There wasn't one dull moment; I was fully engrossed in this novel from the beginning to the end. Also, Barnes pulled off something many authors struggle with: completing a full story arc within one novel while still leaving it open to the possibility of more. This could operate as a stand-alone, but it could also lead into a series. I really, really love that; cliff-hangers may provide a motivation to read the next novel, but they lack that sense of closure that many readers--myself included--seek.
But far and away, the best aspect of this novel was the characters. Barnes handled a large, varied cast and managed to give each character their own unique personality, their own way of speaking, thinking, and doing. I loved that she tackled two major stereotypes, the "slut" and the "cheerleader," and made them into something much, much more. The characters all had a wonderful dynamic--they played off of one another in the best of ways.
And there's our protagonist. Our awesome, awesome protagonist. Kali was fantastic, and I absolutely adored her. She was reserved at times, snarky at others, and always, always strong. I don't just mean strong in a physical way. Sure, she was a fearsome demon-slayer every other day. Sure, she kicked some major ass. But she also had that mental fortitude that I think typifies a truly "strong" protagonist. One doesn't have to be physically capable to be strong; there's a very large mental and emotional aspect to that quality. Kali happened to have all three.
“Sometimes, there aren't any good choices. Sometimes, making the right one is hard... It's funny, but when you think about it, we're all broken. That's what life does. It knocks you down and breaks you and you either get back up again, or you don't. You either do things on your terms, or you don't. You let the bad things win, or you don't."
"You either let it break you, or you don't.”
However, there was one thing I wasn't too fond of: the stereotypical high school. Barnes did some wondrous character development with Skylar and Bethany, the "slut" and the "cheerleader," as I mentioned before, but the rest of their high school . . . was not so fortunate. There were still the awkward nerds, the bitchy cheerleaders, the segregated lunch room. Perhaps it's really like this at some schools, but I've yet to find one. It just added a cheesy, well-worn atmosphere to an otherwise fresh, exciting novel.
Also . . . the romance. Otherwise known as "the insta-love." It wasn't nearly so bad as it could've been. This could've been one of those novels where the protagonist meets the love interest, gets googly-eyes, and refuses to see or care about anything else for the rest of the novel. That was not the case. The romance is essentially nonexistent for the first few hundred pages; the plot always takes precedence. But Kali's ~connection~ with this creature she'd known for only a few days was simply not believable, supernatural or no.
Overall, though, this was a very enjoyable book. I'd highly recommend it to any fans of the paranormal, and if it's the beginning of a series, I will certainly be reading the next installments.