We don’t usually post formal reviews on this blog, but I found out after I wrote this review of Nova Ren Suma’s 17 & Gone for VOYA that they had already assigned the book to another reviewer. So I figured I wouldn’t let my time go to waste, and I’d post my review here. If it isn’t obvious, I think this is one of the best books of the year so far, and I’d be very surprised if it doesn’t make our Mock Printz shortlist at the end of the year (so for those of you playing along at home, you can start reading!). Since I wrote the review with VOYA in mind, I avoided spoilers, but since I know you’ve read the book already, if you want to chime in with thoughts about the ending, I’d love to talk about it. Here’s the review:
Suma, who was introduced to the YA world with the stunningly beautiful, if somewhat flawed Imaginary Girls, has outdone herself with another gorgeously evocative story of grief and loss. Shortly before her seventeenth birthday, Lauren begins to see the spirits of first one, but soon dozens of 17-year-old girls who have gone missing and are assumed runaways; she is particularly obsessed with the first girl she encounters, who Lauren is sure did not run away but was kidnapped. As her obsession with “her girls” grows, she grows increasingly distant from friends and family. Do her visions mean that the girls have all died? Or that they are somehow able to cry out to Lauren to save them? Or, as the reader comes to suspect, do they mean that Lauren is in the grip of a diseased mind? The ambiguous intersection of ghosts and mental illness has been a literary trope at least as far back as James’s Turn of the Screw and as recently as Poblocki’s Ghost of Graylock (Scholastic, 2012), but few writers (even James himself) have dug so deeply and poignantly into the specific psychological reasons for this intersection as Suma does here. Lauren is a deep, intriguing character who readers will not be able to forget. Suma’s writing is ethereally beautiful throughout, and she has overcome the flaws in plot and balance that plagued Imaginary Girls to create a thoroughly engaging story to hold her magnificent words.