17 & Gone: a review
17&Gone by Nova Ren Suma
Seventeen-year-old Lauren is having visions of girls who have gone missing. And all these girls have just one thing in common—they are 17 and gone without a trace. As Lauren struggles to shake these waking nightmares, impossible questions demand urgent answers: Why are the girls speaking to Lauren? How can she help them? And… is she next? As Lauren searches for clues, everything begins to unravel, and when a brush with death lands her in the hospital, a shocking truth emerges, changing everything.
With complexity and richness, Nova Ren Suma serves up a beautiful, visual, fresh interpretation of what it means to be lost.
I mean, whoa.
Look at that cover to the left. Looked? Good. Cause this is what a five-star book looks like.
It sucked me in from page one and refused to let go. I finished it literally in a day, which is not good because this one will be hard to follow.
It’s not just the hauntingly beautiful writing. It’s not just the creepy, dark and bleak atmosphere of gloom and hopelessness that trails the heroine, Lauren, like wisps of smoke. This book didn’t have a breakneck pace, no explosions, superpowers, or shocking twists on every page. And yet I just couldn’t put it down.
HIGHLIGHT TO SEE SPOILERS: So here we have the reverse paranormal. As in 99% of YA paranormal when the heroine’s powers start to manifest and everyone says it’s schizophrenia, but then—dun-dun-dun!!—it turns out she really can see dead people. And in this book, the heroine starts seeing dead people, and only toward the end we realize that it’s schizophrenia that she’s inherited from her deadbeat dad. It was magnificently researched and rendered not just with accuracy but with respect. (This is one of my pet peeves—sensationalizing and romanticizing mental illness, especially in young women
played by Angelina Jolie or teenage girls.) This bothered me a lot about Pretty Girl 13—the two books have similar themes, but are just worlds apart. Worlds.
I loved that in the end, it didn’t turn out to be all for nothing. Lauren’s visions did end up saving Abby Sinclair’s life. The end is not 100% optimistic—it can’t be, not with that diagnosis, there’s always a degree of uncertainty—and it works perfectly.
This book is very sad at times, especially the stories of the missing girls—some of them made me cry. (And I think I love Fiona even though she’s not a real ghost. For whatever reason, I think I want to read her story. She’s my kind of character.)
Absorbing. Moving, Powerful. True. I give this book five stars.