5 intense Stars
JA Huss always has a section at the back her books called “End of Book Shit (EOBS).” She talks about acknowledgments, how she felt when she was writing the book and stuff like that. It’s one of my favorite parts of reading her books because you get this fantastic story and then you get a love note direct from her mind as well. At the end of this book, she talks about her characters. About how as long as her characters make her readers feel something, she’s done her job. Well if that is her barometer, then she exceeded expectations with ease.
Harper is 18 and on the run. We know she’s on the run right from the start. From who or what we don’t learn until much later. We know she’s smart, pays attention and whatever is chasing her is bigger and badder than she thinks she’ll ever be.
James has been watching Harper for months. He knows everything about her that can be discovered through observation alone. It’s quite impressive really what he has been able to intuit about her. You get a quiet violence from him immediately. There’s a disciplined mercenary always just under the surface, waiting to have his shoulder tapped and put in the game. He’s also claimed Harper as his own.
Harper is skittish and doesn’t trust anyone. James is lethal and utterly confident in everything he does. Together they are something altogether different. Harper learns how addicting power can be and James reveals a tenderness to him that is endearing even if the age difference between them makes you squirm just a little.
Huss has written a machine gun spray on mute with this book. You get the pain and the impact and the danger without all of the noise. It’s calculated, precise and extraordinarily quiet.
Huss never ceases to amaze me with her level of writing stealth. When I first started this book, I did not expect to like Harper. She was a little wishy washy and irritating at first. And then, without warning she was crawling under my skin, making herself at home and inviting James along for the ride. There was no huge announcement that they were moving in. There wasn’t any fanfare. They simply arrived and settled in. Leeching some kind of addictive substance into my blood stream upon arrival. How is it possible to get this attached to characters with which you only spend 118 pages? When they are this well built, I would question a lack of addiction.
This book is bold. This book does not pull its punches. This book is a predator stalking its prey. I hope Huss never figures out that I’m willing to stand perfectly still so she can catch me at will. I love the way she hunts her readers.