It’s fun to get excited to read a book even before you read the first line. In The Alchemy of Being Fourteen, the cover, the chapter art, the chapter titles, even the intro all scream READ ME! (Have you heard a better chapter title than “Polyglot Muse”?)
And the book itself does not disappoint.
I love it when an author’s writing style can suck you into the story and almost make you forget you’re reading a book. Leah Williams writes her main (female) characters as smart. And real. I felt like these were friends of my daughter that I could meet in real life. It’s nice that YA books are not only the most diverse books with the most cutting edge stories, but that they do a really good job of reflecting reality.
And, she does a fantastic job of showing you what it’s like to be in high school.
It was like Dante’s Inferno except the seven circles of hell were different levels of starter-kit adolescent embarrassment on up to the patented, more potent, teen angst.
She has an amazing flair to her writing. It really is the kind of book you don’t want to stop reading. And you know you’ve found an author that’s great at writing suspense when you find yourself holding your breath.
So often in paranormal fiction, it ends up overtaking the whole book. This book is about the supernatural. But it isn’t. The conflict between the Praeta and Supra is there (read the book), but it’s not, like, the focus of the book. (Sorry, had to get one “like” in there.) It’s the conflict between Winter and herself; between Arden and herself. About coming to terms with who they are. As teenage girls. Adolescence sucks in so many ways. There are so many conflicting things going on. Leah Williams captures that perfectly, adding a fascinating subplot. In this way it’s like real life – you have the stuff you’re truly dealing with, and everything else just serves to make it more frustrating – or more interesting, depending on your perspective.