Thursday, August 12, 2021

Review: Under the Milky Way by Vanessa Barneveld


by Vanessa Barneveld
Entangled Teen
YA Science Fiction
400 pages

Nothing ever happens in Dawson, Colorado.

Until high school senior Cassidy Roekiem’s mom checks into a “wellness center,” but nothing is wrong with her.

Then people start seeing lights in the sky and missing chunks of time, but the town insists nothing is going on.

And now Hayden, the new boy at school who keeps to himself and is more than a little mysterious, starts to notice her like it’s nothing out of the ordinary.

Suddenly, “nothing” is starting to feel a whole lot like something. And everything leads back to Hayden. The boy she’s starting to fall for. The boy with too many dark secrets for his kind heart. The boy she’s pretty sure isn’t human…



Aliens and space meld with high school drama to form a high tension, well-woven read.

Cassidy is struggling. Her parents are divorced, her mother is a well-known figure, and now, her mother has checked herself into some strange wellness ranch, where Cassidy isn't allowed to visit her. Nothing makes sense, and everything about life seems out of sorts. So, when one of the boys at school...a 'hot' one...can't take his eyes off of her and starts accidentally running into her everywhere, she's not sure what to think. As she warms up to him, things on her mother's side grow stranger and stranger, especially as Cassidy begins to delve into the research for the novel her mom was writing. Add her sudden blackouts and hours being lost at a time, and she's afraid something big and sinister is going on.

When I picked this one up, I was expecting a sappy, alien-human romance...but this is so much more. The author weaves tons of secrets and intrigue around the characters, creating a tale which is packed with unexpected twists and turns, high stakes, and dangerous shadows. Nothing is as it seems and so much is at stake. So, romance is there, and it does carry the tones of usual high school drama, but that is only the beginning.

There's quite a bit going on in the background. To get this to all click together by the end, the author tells the tale not only from different perspectives, but includes emails and notes from the past. Each chapter does put a place and date at the beginning to help keep things clear and coordinated. Still, I was more than a little confused during the first half of the book and just trusted that this was all going to fall into the right place by the end. And it does for the most part, although some things were still blurred and I'd have to go back and reread several spots to see exactly how it worked. But to say this ruined the read for me would be wrong.

I read this one in a single sitting and couldn't put it down. The characters and situations are very original, and while it's clear there are some evil doings happening, it's not so clear how it all works. The tension is high, the characters are more than easy to root for, and it's an entertaining read until the very end. So, if you're looking for high school romance with a dash of science fiction and a super helping of evil intrigue...this one is for you.

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