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#1 Gifted Touch

An explosive secret...
"Sometimes when I touch things, words fill my head. Words that feel like thoughts - thoughts that are inside of me...but not mine. I used to think I was crazy. Used to. I'm starting to wonder if there's a reason for all the voices that tangle together in my mind. And if I'm right, then it's not my sanity I'm worried about - it's my life."

Brief Synopsis
Rae has been hearing other people's thoughts and is afraid that she is going insane. She meets Anthony in group therapy and he helps her to realize that she has the power to read fingerprints. Meanwhile, someone has hired a killer to "off" Rae.

-Rae liked the idea that Lea didn't even have a flicker of memory of the somewhat dorky Rachel, the girl who'd drawn unicorns on the top of every single assignment she'd turn in. Unicorns with names printed under them - names like Flirtalina and Fabulousa. (pg. 5)

- That's what those who were not sanity challenged did at lunch. They ate. (pg. 12)

- "Looking good. Looking normal," she told herself. "Except for the talking-to-yourself thing." (pg. 23)

- "I'm not really a Slurpee person. Although I like the word. Slurpee. Slurrpeee. It's onomatopoetic, don't you think?" (pg. 78)

- How to sparkle. Step one - go insane, Rae thought. Not an article soon to appear in Self magazine. (pg. 79)

Have a favorite quote from this book? Email me and I'll add it.

Remember! Reading this threatens serious spoiler content. Also, please be prepared: these reviews were written when I was in high school and, as such, read like a high schooler's ramblings. I intend on keeping the reviews as they are, as the opinions of a teenager are probably more relevant to this series than my older perspective. I'm sorry. I thought I knew a lot about writing in high school; now that I'm older, I realize writing YA is a lot harder than my 17 year old self gave Melinda Metz credit for. Hahah. But I guess when you write YA, you have to put up with the pretentious teen know-it-alls who take every English class offered...

The prologue is very intriguing, but I don't think it was really well written. I think Metz tried too hard to make the perfect life for Rae. Everything was so perfunctory. Marcus is the sweetest guy ever. People are saying unreal stuff at the lunch table, like Will you pass me the salt? Still, it was necessary for the plot and it did give us a little insight into Lea's character. Lea is really not all that developed, but we learn that she is very superficial when she comments on Kayla Carr's clothing. This also helps to develop Rae's character, because we learn that she is the epitome of "cool" before her freakout.

The novel has a very driving plot that makes you not want to put it down. The imagery is also incredible. I love the way Metz uses Rae's painting skills to reveal Rae's feelings and emotions. I just wish we could have learned what those crazy predatory flowers represented.

Anthony's first impression towards Jesse is a little surprising. He comments on how he doesn't need another little brother, but throughout the whole series, Jesse does become a very important honorary little brother to Anthony. I think Anthony's character is the most interesting. When we first meet him, we are given this bad-ass character who is a complete loser. He wears BSB shirts, hates his friends, and is an all out jerk. Still, once we begin to learn his psychology, we see that he is incredibly sweet. It is almost hard to imagine that he has anger management problems. Metz expertly compensates for his truly good persona by adding the parts where Anthony is smoking pot and having mental porn sessions.

Metz has a very interesting contrast between the characters Rae and Anthony. Rae is a prep school Cardinal; Anthony is a dumb dyslexic Bluebird. Their two personalities are different to the outside observer but once you get to know them, you find they have the same feelings and internal conflicts. Anthony has issues with his dad, Rae with her mom.

The families are also very intriguing. Anthony feels he must be the parent figure in his family, as is evidenced by him calling about his brother's antibiotics. I think Anthony needs this feeling of superiority, since he is always being put down for not being so smart in school. Rae, on the other hand is the complete opposite. She craves the position of daughter and relishes in her father's status.

Rae's dad is cool. Metz develops his character nicely. She portrays him as a somewhat geeky English teacher who is obsessed with King Arthur, and thinks his dead wife was a perfect angel. Still, under all his outrageous goodness, he is given the spark of humanity that makes his character real. He is always trying to buy Rae things and is always thinking about her feelings. Typical response for a parent who just had a child in a mental institution. The relationship between father and daughter is sweet; I love the little drawing that Rae leaves in his pocket. That scene shows that they are not perfect in their relationship, but that they usually can work things out.

Jeff's character is a real mystery to me. Metz introduces him and then shows us all his good points. He is a good nice stable guy for Rae to talk with at school since all her other friends think she is crazy weird. Yet, out of the blue, after we all come to like this Jeff, she makes him a complete jerk who just wants to use Rae. Ironic.

This book had a nice closing. Friendships have been formed between Rae, Anthony and Jesse. Yana still has a little more character development needed, but her performance at David's house gives the reader a (false) feeling that she will be there for Rae no matter what. The series has an obvious sequential story line, so it is good that Metz leaves the first book with a lead in to the next book - to keep readers reading.

Also, readers want to know more about the characters. Metz developed the main characters in great detail - Rae and Anthony. It's time we learn a little more about Jesse, Yana, Lea, and Marcus. The most driving question that keeps readers coming back to this series is who hired David to kill Rae? And who is it that has a short narrative in a different font at the end or beginning of chapters?

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