Harbinger by Sara Wilson Etienne

Coming Thursday, Feb. 2, is “Harbinger,” a new young adult novel by debut author Sara Wilson Etienne.
“Harbinger” is a change from the normal fantasy novels usually found today.
It was praised by author Tamora Pierce as, “Heart-wrenching, terrifying, hot, and un-put-down-able!” I, too, found the book “un-put-down-able,” but this was because I really had no idea what was going on.
The story starts in a post-apocalyptic United States with 16-year-old Faye Robson being dropped off by her dad at Holbrook Academy, a school that’s more like a World War II concentration camp/teenage insane asylum.
Faye is there because as long as she can remember, she’s been haunted with “visions” of water coming in and nearly drowning her.
The principal of Holbrook, Dr. Mordoch, assigns Faye to her “family” of other students that she’ll be spending all her “classes” with. These kids include Zach, Nami, Damion, Maya, and the mysterious Kel.
Faye instantly has a connection with Kel, and when strange things begin to happen to them, Kel and Faye find they are pulled together to figure things out.
After their first night together as a “family” all of them wake up with their hands stained blood red.
Faye knows that it must have something to do with her, but doesn’t understand the reason.
As she delves deeper into the history of Holbrook and her visions become more detailed and urgent, Faye unwraps an ancient and mysterious prophecy that tells of a Harbinger bringing the end of the world.
If the above summary seemed choppy, or lacked sense, that’s because confusion is the general feeling I got from reading “Harbinger.”
Reading the back of the book, I expected a teen romance with some supernatural plot twists thrown in. What I actually got was a big heap of what I can only describe as, “whaaaaat?”
I didn’t even realize that the setting was in the sometime near-future, until Etienne mentioned a war that never happened.
Faye herself isn’t physically described except for one quick sentence, while Etienne spends far too much time describing the setting in the middle of the climax.
I felt the relationships between the characters, especially between Faye and Kel, weren’t fully explored or explained. They just jumped from emotion to emotion.
The climax itself, in my opinion, was disappointing. It took me a moment to realize that I was even reading the climax because there were so many little plot twists in a row that it left me spinning.
“Harbinger” has been described as a “psychological thriller,” so perhaps it was supposed to be this . . . jarring. But personally, I was not impressed with a plot line that held a lot of potential.





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