My interesting read this week is a young adult novel called “The Explosionist” by Jenny Davidson, although I’m not exactly sure what kind of review to give it. I have to be honest: I picked up the book because of its cover. It’s a FANTASTIC cover and, even though it’s a text-only work, I was impressed by the visual presentation of everything from the title page to the typesetting. In short, this is a good-looking book and, after it caught my eye, it caught my interest a little more thoroughly as well.

My interesting read this week is a young adult novel called “The Explosionist” by Jenny Davidson, although I’m not exactly sure what kind of review to give it. I have to be honest: I picked up the book because of its cover. It’s a FANTASTIC cover and, even though it’s a text-only work, I was impressed by the visual presentation of everything from the title page to the typesetting. In short, this is a good-looking book and, after it caught my eye, it caught my interest a little more thoroughly as well.

The story centers around a young woman named Sophie in an alternate history Scotland that (from what I could tell) inhabits a vague sort of politically tense historical lull somewhere before a WWII that may never come to pass. My knowledge of WWII era European history is admittedly sketchy, so I don’t have much comment on the alternate history aspect of the book, except that it allowed the author some interesting creative license to play with various aspects of science and technology in a quasi-historical society. As an unusual complement to the weird-science aspects of the book, Davidson also employs several paranormal elements, the primary one being the Sophie’s realization that she’s a gifted medium.

With my compulsive science fiction tendencies, I couldn’t help being a little disappointed at how minor most of the technological changes seemed to be, but in combination with the supernatural elements, they provided enough of a weird edge to an otherwise normal story that I think it held my interest better than it might have without becoming so strange that it would trip up a more typical member of the mainstream YA fiction audience.

The plot of the book follows Sophie and a series of her friends and acquaintances through investigations of a political murder, a sinister secret organization, and several acts of domestic terrorism. There was more than enough action to keep me reading right up to the end, but I was extremely disappointed with the way the author wrapped things up. At approximately the halfway mark, the book had tremendous potential, but from there it settled for a series of weak surprises and odd twists that managed to be more unlikely than surprising. The good news is that there’s a sequel in the works and I’m definitely willing to give the author a second chance to address some loose ends and (hopefully) expand on some of the disappointingly truncated parts of the story.

To wrap up on a positive note, I should mention that the characters and settings of the novel are well-described and detail-rich while maintaining a very accessible reading level. In this way, the book showcases some of the best aspects of YA literature. For the time being, I’ll go ahead and recommend the book in spite of its flaws, if for no other reason than I’m curious to find out what other people think.