Dangerous Reflections (#1) by Shay West

Published: 17th June 2014
Goodreads badgePublisher: Booktrope Editions
Pages: 214
Format: ebook
Genre: Young Adult/Historical/Science Fiction
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

Alexis Davenport wants to go home. She hates her new school, her mother for moving her away from her friends, and her father for walking out.

To make matters worse, Alex is haunted by images of strange girls reflected in her mirror. It’s bad enough juggling homework, a relentless bully, boys, and a deadbeat dad; now, she must save the world from an evil presence hell-bent on changing the past – and our futures. Who knew her A+ in history was going to be this important?

 Note: I was provided a copy of this book for review.

I like the concept that West has created, it is clever, interesting, and has room to grow and develop.  Trying to find out why someone is trying to alter history and change key moments in time is fascinating in itself, but added with the fact Alex is the one to stop them, a girl unaware of her abilities and thrown into this situation makes it an intriguing read. I enjoyed the gradual progression into discovering Alex’s abilities. Starting slow allows a believable development in the emergence of her gift and it also makes it a good introduction for the reader. Once Alex understands more so does the reader, and allows the narrative to move on and increases the enjoyment of the story that one step further. This progression ends when Alex is physically drawn in through the mirror and finds herself out of her own time and out of her own body. Alex is pulled against her will into history, not knowing where she will end up or why.

There is no real introduction into Alex’s abilities, we are confused just like she is, but she handles it surprisingly well. Whether her love of history trumps the fear of what has occurred, or even an ingrained sense of her abilities I don’t know. I think also that when you are living something, regardless of when or where, you get caught up in the situation, something which is evident in the events of not just Alex’s first journey but the others as well. It isn’t until she returns and has time to process that she can reflect on what has happened.

Alex’s ability to travel into the past is not the sole focus of the story. The novel starts with Alex and her mother moving to live with her aunt after her father leaves. This gives us an introduction into Alex and the anger she feels towards her mother and the inconvenience she believes it has added to her life. These feelings balance out somewhat, rearing their head on occasion, but it isn’t long before Alex settles in with new friends and learns to like her new town.

The two sides of the story are not connected by anything other than Alex at this point. Alex is still a regular girl trying to get through high school, survive bullies, and get the attention of the boy she likes. There is a message about self confidence and being yourself, as well as the troubles of being a teenager, especially a fifteen year old girl, trying to fit in. It is sad in the beginning watching Alex try to be a different person, trying to be the person she thought she should be but it’s nice watching this attitude change as the book goes on. Alex experiences new things through her time in the past and gains confidence in herself to be who she is and not worry about what others think.

Having said that she is still prone to the temper tantrums and hissy fits she has in the beginning. I understood Alex’s sullen and angry nature at the beginning when we are told about her dad and the move, but she falls into the whiny teenager very quickly when things don’t go her way. I understand there are factors such as bullying that lead to a few of these, but they seem so extreme and a little childish, not like a teenage outburst at all. I felt that when she got upset about something she almost changed personalities. She doesn’t seem selfish or childish until things don’t go her way and when this happens it doesn’t seem to fit.

I can’t put my finger on it but the writing style didn’t always sit right either. I liked the story when Alex is in the past, the writing feels natural and runs smoothly, but when it came to her everyday life something seemed off, maybe a little bit stilted, it wasn’t enough that it threw you off the story but I did notice a difference. I don’t think that was intentional, certainly the story itself was interesting though you could almost claim the story rushed in places, but perhaps it is because we stay more within Alex’s thoughts rather than alternating to others like her mother and her friends’ thoughts at times.

As I say, when she is in the past or discussing her journeys it is very engaging. The more often Alex goes on these journeys the better she gets at coping and you are able to see that she is learning. She gains more memories of the person she inhabits, hones in on her skills and adapts more easily. In West’s writing you are also able to see the smooth blending of Alex’s mind and the other person’s. She alternates effortlessly between her memories and those of the host, and she inhabits the body well, allowing you to accept for a moment she is actually the other person, not just Alex’s spirit inside another person.

West also gives us a small insight into the other side of the story, the perspective of the man trying to change history. Nothing is given away, but through hints and clues, and combined with what Alex learns the puzzle can be pieced together, but is still nowhere near complete. I like that this is added in the first book, it is a tease of what is happening and gives us a mystery to hang on to besides total uncertainty or having to wait for further books to know more.

What I liked with West’s writing was the way we often understand things after the fact. Through Alex’s journeys and the numerous perspectives, you are able to gain a small understanding about what is happening. Seeing the “villain’s” point on view offers some information, but Alex also helps us understand as she tries to make sense of it to herself. We also learn a little about Alex’s gift through others, but we aren’t told, West lets us piece it together, and even then there are a lot of unanswered questions.

There is a lot more I could say about this book, there is a lot going on from both sides of Alex’s life that are worth mentioning but I would end up with an essay. I enjoyed both sides of Alex’s life and see a great start to a series forming, certainly one that captures the modern and historical. I have no doubt we will learn a lot more about Alex and the mysterious man in the next book and it is evident West has created a premise that is intriguing enough to make you want to keep reading. With a cliff hanger of sorts West leaves enough open ends to tempt you but also enough answers to satisfy you with a creative concept that not only mystifies, but requires a solution and an explanation not just for the characters, but for the readers as well.

 

Purchase Dangerous Reflections via the following

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iTunes

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