Author: Kristi Cook
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: February 22, 2011
One month into her junior year, sixteen-year-old Violet McKenna transfers to the Winterhaven School in New York’s Hudson Valley, inexplicably drawn to the boarding school with high hopes. Leaving Atlanta behind, she’s looking forward to a fresh start--a new school, and new classmates who will not know her deepest, darkest secret, the one she’s tried to hide all her life: strange, foreboding visions of the future. But Winterhaven has secrets of its own, secrets that run far deeper than Violet’s. Everyone there--every student, every teacher--has psychic abilities, 'gifts and talents,' they like to call them. Once the initial shock of discovery wears off, Violet realizes that the school is a safe haven for people like her. Soon, Violet has a new circle of friends, a new life, and maybe even a boyfriend--Aidan Gray, perhaps the smartest, hottest guy at Winterhaven. Only there’s more to Aidan than meets the eye--much, much more. And once she learns the horrible truth, there’s no turning back from her destiny. Their destiny. Together, Violet and Aidan must face a common enemy--if only they can do so without destroying each other first.Deceitful and strikingly dramatic, Haven twists overused concepts into a captivating mystery of electrifying romance, rich background, and an ancient sense that instills itself gradually into the tension-filled air. The paranormal and contemporary elements blend perfectly and form a flawless dynamic that catapults readers into the veiled world of Winterhaven. The ensemble of characters result to explosive connections and friendships made. The plot brims with undulated mystery and intricate details that enhance the nuances of the paranormal aspect.
Violet is confused with her abilities that she classifies as a burden. She's naive and clueless to the Winterhaven's real purpose. Her relationship with Aiden doesn't build up at all. At first sight, they already have a sizzling interaction which plays out to be unconvincing. Her actions prove to be clingy and reckless which doesn't seem pertinent to her real, inner character. Although her character is quite well-built, her voice isn't distinct and her interactions with Aiden, cliché and misused.
Aiden is a multifaceted character, clear from the different sides he shows. Throughout the novel, he is hot-and-cold, instead of being an attractive asset, it turns to an annoying, irritating side of his personality. His distant personality ultimately classifies him as a loner at Winterhaven. He lacks interactions with the other classmates, not solidifying his character enough to be believable. And although he drives a big portion of the mystery and intrigue, almost every interaction with him is seemingly awkward. Aiden has the potential to be a great character, but he falls flat as a love interest and as a friend.
Violet's friends drive the comedic elements of the plot and they are their interactions with Violet are always humorous and fun. Sophie, Cece, Kate, and Marissa's support for Violet is always constant, no matter what crazy stunts Violet is up to. The bond they form is admirable and each character has their individual flaws and personalities. Their friendship blossoms steadily as they begin to trust each other. With their different powers, and their unbreakable bond, they are an unstoppable force.
Cook's writing is exceptionally captivating and compelling. The paranormal elements really seep into the words and writing style, weaving an intricate play of words. Pertinent to the ancient air, the setting's atmosphere is molded to mirror the enigmatic role of the school and the students there. Haven's pacing is consistent and adept, speeding up just right to lead into the explosive climax.
Haven is a compelling, complex novel that keeps the reader absorbed in fiery drama, unraveled lies, and the ultimate deception. Cook brings immense surprise with the shocking ending and it ties up the events flawlessly and leaves room for an obvious sequel. Detailed and vivid, with somewhat lacking main characters, and effortless writing, Haven is a gripping read with haunted illusions and suspense.
The Bottom Line: An fantastic debut with lots of potential to become a great, developed series.
My reaction/enjoyment: 9/10
Total Score: 84/100 (B+)