Thursday, 6 August 2015

Review: Semester Aboard (More than Magic #1) by Elizabeth Kirke Synopsis:
College student Jen Maddox is a few days into her summer study abroad program and has loved every moment. She just left Mexico and is back on her cruise ship campus, ready to sail to Panama. Everyone tells her that the experience will change her life, but none of them realize just how right they really are.
One night Jen goes out on deck and encounters five other students. She knows Charlie from one of her classes and he's a funny, friendly, regular guy. Picture-perfect Dani and his gorgeous wife Mariana live right down the hall from Jen. And she has seen TS, who's built like a truck, around the ship and recognizes the cute, but quiet Thomas as well.
Then Jen sees something that isn't humanly possible. Jen would have thought that it was all a dream, if not for the fact that Charlie, Dani, Mariana, TS, and Thomas are making every effort to cover it up. Suddenly, the five of them are everything but normal and Jen is determined to figure out what they're hiding.
When she does, her life really does change. Jen expected to spend her summer studying the cultures of Latin America, she never dreamed she'd learn about a magical culture instead. 
But Jen's childhood fantasy come true is about to turn into a nightmare; there's something on the ship. Something dangerous. Suddenly, everyone on board is threatened by a creature that Jen never even believed existed. Jen and her new friends might be the only people who can stop it!
Now Jen has to learn everything she can about her new world before it kills her. And her friends. And maybe everyone on the entire ship.

***I received the paperback free as a review copy from the publisher by being part of their social media team in exchange for an honest review***

After what I realised was nothing more than a slow start in order to introduce the characters, I couldn’t put this book down; mainly because those characters are incredible! Originally it was overwhelming (after recently reading books with less than 3 side characters you can’t blame me for taking a while to get my head around 5) but their vivid personalities jumped off the pages and it takes no time at all for you to get to know them.

Of course that doesn’t mean you won’t be continually surprised by the revelations about their pasts… One of my favourite things about this book was the character development we both see and don’t. It’s clear the author knows her characters exceptionally well along with the world she’s created.

The magical beings in this book are similar, yet so different to the ones from movie/novel lore. It really emphasises the point to not believe everything you read, something of which Jen is regularly reminded when facing vampires who do not burn in the sun and werewolves who love to be petted. Her lack of magical knowledge meant the reader could learn alongside her as well as unravel the mysteries surrounding the cruise.

Being a very character orientated story meant there were plenty of fun banter scenes, but action was not to be missed out. The second half of Semester Aboard flew by in a whirlwind of tension and life-threatening fights until I was at the final page catching my breath and with heaviness in my heart that can only come from not having the sequel in my hands (something I plan to remedy, immediately).

It’s safe to say I definitely enjoyed this book and believe fans of YA paranormal/fantasy will to. But only if you’re ready for something without a love triangle which I’m pretty sure we all have been for some time!
Favourite Quotes:
“The summer had been like a dream, some parts of it a nightmare, but overall a good dream. Magic.”

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