Kind of Like Life by Christina McMullen

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All Renee Ward ever wanted out of life was two things: Good friends to share her love of fantasy and fairy tales, and for magic to be real. When her family moves halfway across the country in the middle of her senior year, it appears as if Renee just might get her wish. With its Victorian homes and quaint downtown, Waterside is almost too good to be true. Not only does she find friends who share her interests, but she also meets a cute guy who seems to have a magical secret or two of his own.

But after a visit from the mysterious Blake Carter, Renee’s new utopian life suddenly turns into a never-ending nightmare. The only question is, how much of this is real, and how much is just in her head?

Wow! For a surprise, this book gave me a rollercoaster ride. What starts like a normal YA with school, friends and all, soon turns into something much deeper, something I would never have imagined and very different from other books I’ve read. While the blurb outlines the story, the real big ‘boom’, what’s really happening, isn’t explained. I don’t know why Ms. Mullen decided to keep this part out of the blurb. As it is, I went into the story without knowing and while well written, I still wasn’t sure if it would be my kind of read. If I had had a hint of the true story, I would have picked up the book earlier. I almost missed on a little jewel.

The characters, Renee and Blake, kept me on my toes the whole time. They made me wonder how they could ever get out of this nightmare. They also had me smile and yes, cry too. They aren’t perfect: Renee is some kind of recluse who doesn’t feel at ease with people, and Blake hasn’t had it easy with abusive parents. Together, they learn to trust each other and it all feels so natural.

‘Kind of Like Life’ is classified as science fiction and adventure, but it has a huge paranormal feel about it and I would most definitely recommend it to lovers of that genre.

Kind of Like Life has every element I could ever want in a YA book. McMullen’s writing is intelligent, creative and thoughtful. Things don’t just happen–events occur that make the reader think about what’s happening. There’s also a touch of romance that’s meaningful and not overdone.

What I like best about this book is that the twists and turns are layered, kind of like the movie Inception. Just when you think you’re about to settle into a fantasy or paranormal tale, the story deepens. The focus changes in unexpected, yet understandable, ways that shift the story back and forth between fantasy, sci-fi and (perhaps most shockingly) reality. When you get to the meat of the tale, you’re still not safe. The surprises continue throughout the book which is well worth the read.

I have several favorite quotes from Kind of Like Life, but I’ll leave you with this one: “Nothing good could ever come of entering random doors that appeared in the woods.” Or does it? I guess you’ll have to read Kind of Like Life to find out.

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