I originally got wind of this title by receiving an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of another book, but once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down. The premise immediately grabbed me, and the story kept me hooked until the very end. This is a great selection for readers who are into a bit of magical realism.
17-year-old Hannah is losing her grip on reality, which is affecting not only her but her friends and family too. She wrecked the car when bugs crawled over her hands, but were the creepy things even real? Now someone is moving Hannah’s possessions around in her room, or is she imagining that also? Why does she feel like she isn’t in control of her own brain anymore? Hannah is terrified she’s headed for a horrible life in and out of the mental institution, just like her dad.
When her friends bail, Hannah is left floundering. Her boyfriend, Manny, doesn’t believe her wild stories, and new girl Chelsea is practically replacing her at school. Only artsy outsider and self-proclaimed occult expert, Plug, agrees to help Hannah discover the truth, but even he can’t help Hannah reclaim her mind from whatever is taking over. She’ll have to do that on her own, especially if she wants to save her friends, her mom, and herself.
Review: I was immediately drawn to the carnival-like atmosphere with its colors, tastes, and smells. And even though the carnival was only a small part of the overall plot, the author did so well to create Hannah’s sensory experiences that I was really afraid for her when things started going wrong. It wasn’t always clear whether what Hannah was seeing and perceiving was actually happening, and the use of her as an unreliable narrator really made this story pop–especially when the truth was eventually revealed. I also liked how realistic this book was in its portrayal of high school friendships, especially the diverse characters–having lived in the southwest for the best part of ten years, I’m always happy to read accurate portrayals of Native Americans and people of Latin American descent. It’s also a helpful book for dealing with the stigma that often comes with mental illness, and allows plenty of ways for teens to see their own experiences within the story. I was even taken back to my own senior year, when I suffered a similar fate of having to change classes, and crowds. I wouldn’t only recommend this book to readers who love magical realism, but for those who are looking for a complex story with an interesting twist at the end.
To grab a copy of UNLOCKED for yourself, feel free to click the links below: