Raphaelle (call her Ella. Do it.) is starting a new school with a new name and a new attitude. No more rivalries, no more 'pranks', no more glowing in the dark, and certainly no remembering the horrible night. She'll fit in, get through it, and start her 'real' life after high school. But when her muse calls, she has to answer and her art gets labeled a crime.
I love a good verse novel and this is a very strong addition to the form. It has snark to spare, confronts Serious Issues with a deft hand, a crackling pace, and a memorable narrator. Of course, verse novels live or die by the narrator. A good narrator makes the poetic language feel natural and confessional. A bad narrator painfully reminds you of your own terrible teenage poetry that should most definitely be burned with fire. Ella's dark as midnight on a moonless night humor made me want to be her partner-in-crime BFF from page one. She can be cutting and is already very removed and aloof when the novel starts, but her interest in The Starbucks boy later to be known as Sam, humanizes her and adds some much appreciated warmth in the early pages. Sam's issue with his Muslim faith conflicting with his growing interest in Ella are handled well without ever seeming to mock or bash the idea o religion itself.
The book is wonderfully interesting to read even before the plot gets into serious motion, which is always a sign of a good novel. However, the story sometimes does seem to have a lot going on all at once. There's a love forbidden by Religion, art vs. censorship, Mom's eating disorder, general high schoolery, and Ella's painful past all thrown in the mix. Overall, I think the novel balances them pretty well and, of course, often life does hit you with everything at once, but there are places where it feels like more could have been done with less. If you like verse novels like those by Ellen Hopkins or Carol Lynch Williams, you should greatly enjoy Audacious.
You find Audacious in our catalog here.