Marvelous (Book 1)
Brandon Jeffrey is the average teenager boy and his hometown of Appleton seems normal enough. But when a fellow classmate winds up dead in the river, presumably murdered, Brandon starts looking at his town--and the world--differently. Then he meets a new girl named Marvel who turns his world sideways when she claims God is calling her to die in order to save others.
The story itself is intriguing, if a bit cliche (the whole small town, average kid falls in love with quirky new girl, and lots of ups and downs follow). The whole element of Marvel being extraordinary different because of God gives the book a different feel than most other contemporary stories of the same vein. The first handful of chapters started off slow, mainly because of Brandon's first person POV narration. He really gets sidetracked sometimes telling parts of his story and life. Some of the random scenes of dialogue or his friends playing video games felt out of place and unnecessary and a lot of the plot isn't resolved at all in the first book, but overall the story flowed well and kept me interested in the plot of the murders and this girl named Marvel.
For me, the characters were a bit tricky. I personally don't relate a whole lot to a seventeen year old boy that just likes to play violent video games and try not to make his alcoholic father mad. Brandon is definitely a punk kid. He doesn't know what he believes, he acts strong but sometimes isn't, he's just kind of living life (or getting through life), and he spends too much time ogling over a girl. His narration though is definitely a strong point of the novel to really get into a kid's head. I don't think it'd be the same story without him telling his story himself.
Marvel, on the other side of things, is hard to nail down. She's quirky and she's had a twisted life, but a lot of her character felt to be the author's way to preach the gospel. It didn't feel complete or making sense. She's still mysterious and I don't know a lot about her or what she's doing.
Overall, it was an interesting story with good moments, cheesy moments, fear-gripping moments, and the glimpse of marvelous moments. I think it'd be a good fit for high school teens who are interested in contemporary stories with a twist of supernatural elements. The book does deal with darker content like violence, abuse, and murder, but for the most part it's clean and an easy read. I definitely was prompted to read book two: Wonder.
In addition, my favorite part is at the end of the book Thrasher included playlists of songs for characters and elements of the story since a main portion of the story is set in a records store. Very cool.
Following the events of the first book, Marvelous, school is starting and Brandon is looking forward to spending more time with Marvel. However, the events of the summer have followed Brandon into the school year and it's clear there's a growing shadow on the town of Appleton. And Brandon is worried Marvel's so-called calling of God is about to come true.
I found this book to be much more put together than the first one. Some of the events or scenes that occurred earlier seem to be tying together toward the larger picture of the plot. The stakes are definitely higher in this book than the first. There are no tragic murders like the first book but the violence level is still high throughout the story.
As I read, I adjusted to Brandon's first person POV narration. I think this story works how it is told like real life events. The supernatural aspects aren't over-done or cheesy, but they enhance the plot and give glimpses of wonder for the story.
Overall, I enjoyed the second book and the last few events of the book set-up for a great start to hopefully the next book. Anyone who enjoys a good story with a little mystery, a little romance, and a little bit of crazy would enjoy this book. It does include Christian themes, violence, supernatural elements, and drugs/alcohol. I'd say high school age and up would be a good age range for the novel.
I'm excited to see what else Travis Thrasher has up his sleeve. Please, I need the next book!
Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.