Book Review: Eleanor (Book 1 of The Unseen) — by Johnny Worthen
Wow! I picked up this book and couldn’t put it down. It was amazing. Eleanor definitely gets five stars!
For ten years Eleanor has hidden what she is by blending into the crowd, never doing anything outstandingly better or noticeably worse. But now her beloved adopted mother’s cancer is worse, and the smell of death fills their house. The social worker is just waiting for an excuse to send her mother into a care facility and Eleanor into foster care. And then her old best friend, David, moves back to their little Wyoming town, and he still feels the same way about her, even though he remembers her secret. His friendship and encouragement give her the courage to speak out. But now Eleanor can’t hide in the shadows anymore, and as the bullies of the school focus on both her and David, she must fight harder than ever to hide the monster within.
Eleanor is a flawed being with the instincts and senses of a wild animal, but the heart and mind of a teenage girl who loves and yearns to be loved. The bullying from teachers and classmates, plus the peer pressure, gossip, and racism found in high school are portrayed in grim realism. Even though Eleanor considers herself a monster, she is much more humane than those around her. Her devotion to her adopted mother, her protective love for David, and her basic goodness force her to stay, to face her problems, and to trust, even though every instinct tells her to flee.
Johnny Worthen has created a tense drama that has you caring for Eleanor, hoping against hope that somehow things will work out for her. The writing is excellent. The tension begins on the first page and never quits. The characters are vividly drawn, and the setting is easily visualized. This YA paranormal/horror is intense. It’s easily the best book I’ve read in a long time. Thank you, Johnny, for a spectacularly good read!