Author: Kimberly Pauley (Twitter)
Publisher: Soho Teen
Publish Date: April 8, 2014
Genre: YA Paranormal
Ask Aria Morse anything, and she must answer with the truth. Yet she rarely understands the cryptic words she‘s compelled to utter. Blessed—or cursed—with the power of an Oracle who cannot decipher her own predictions, she does her best to avoid anyone and everyone.But Aria can no longer hide when Jade, one of the few girls at school who ever showed her any kindness, disappears. Any time Aria overhears a question about Jade, she inadvertently reveals something new, a clue or hint as to why Jade vanished. But like stray pieces from different puzzles, her words never present a clear picture.Then there’s Alex, damaged and dangerous, but the first person other than Jade to stand up for her. And Will, who offers a bond that seems impossible for a girl who’s always been alone. Both were involved with Jade. Aria may be the only one who can find out what happened, but the closer she gets to solving the crime, the more she becomes a target. Not everyone wants the truth to come out.
Just when it seems as though the paranormal genre has given readers all that it had to give, the dedicated authors who write it give us something much more than we could have ever expected. In the case of Ask Me by Kimberly Pauley, I'll readily admit to not expecting too much from the novel due simply to the extreme lack of hype surrounding it. So, imagine my surprise when the novel ended up blowing me away. This is the type of novel that captivates, enthralls, terrifies and consumes you long after the last page, giving you all you could want from the genre and so much more.
Ask Me presents as a fairly cut-and-dried paranormal novel, but we quickly realize within the first chapter, that there is much more to the story than the synopsis implies. Our protagonist, Aria, is an oracle, or a Sybil, a being of immense power and foresight. Yet her persona offers us the exact opposite. She's fragile, resentful of her gift and does her very best to block out the world - if only to block out their questions. If she hears the questions, she has to answer, and she's found that has made her extremely unlikable in social circles. When a classmate is murdered though, Aria knows she must learn to harness her gift, if only to stop a serial killer's mad rampage.
I found that the characters within Ask Me, for the most part, heightened the plotline immensely. Whereas Aria's power and demeanor grows in strength throughout the novel, we sense immediately that both Will and Alex are forces to be reckoned with. While one is outwardly aggressive, the other is quietly dangerous and outwardly personable. I'll admit that I knew the killer from the start of the book, but it didn't diminish my overall enjoyment of the novel, or the final reveal at the end of the book. I felt as though the characters held an equal footing in terms of development, and this created clear character arcs to heighten both the plot and the mystery.
In all honesty, I found Ask Me to be an immensely satisfying paranormal novel with delicate and haunting touches of darkness throughout. While not outright horror, there is a subtle rage to our killer that taints the pages red and bathes us in a lurking danger that we're never quite immune to. By adding Aria's gift, we see the connection between her paranormal power and brute humane strength being used as power over others. While Aria believes her gift is a curse, she realizes that there is a power to it that can be used for either good or evil, and she must master it, learn it and fully embrace it before it's too late. Her journey, her confusion and her pain makes the novel stronger; perhaps even stronger than the mystery itself.
Overall, I was completely surprised by Ask Me, and it's the type of novel that I'd recommend to any readers of my blog, simply because it was that well written and fleshed out. I give this book a very high 4 out of 5, and I highly recommend it to all fans of YA, especially those who enjoy paranormal mysteries and horror stories.
I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.
And now, a giveaway! The generous folks at Soho Teen have provided me with an extra copy for a giveaway for my readers. This giveaway is open internationally and will end promptly at midnight PST on 4/14/14. Simply fill out the Rafflecopter for your chance to win!