This book was not what I was expecting at all. I honestly don’t know what I was expecting, but I didn’t think it would be this good…I was completely blown away by the amount of action and the brilliant plot that this book offered.
I really loved the characters in this one, especially our heroine, Allie. She’s independent, she knows who she is as a person, and she isn’t one of those girls who needs to be in love at all time just to function.
“I don’t want to be that girl who’s nothing without her boyfriend. I want to be a reflection of what I love—of who I am on my own, not just an empty echo of who I love. Does that make sense?”
“You think I’d overwhelm you?” he asked.
“We’d overwhelm each other.”
Plus, the plot of this book is so original. Allie’s parents move her around a lot, and she never really understands why. In fact, the book opens with her saying goodbye to a boyfriend she cares quite a bit about. It’s really sad, to see her ripped away from the happiness that she has to go somewhere else and start her life all over again.
So, when she has to start over again, she doesn’t really question it as much – she kind of just goes with it. Until her sixteenth birthday, when things really change for her. She discovers she’s one of the Immortals, along with Aiden (a boy at her school) and a few of the other friends she has made. Overwhelmed at first, her new friends help her discover who she really is and accept her new life.
I love the whole relationship with Allie and Aiden in this book. It’s different. From the very beginning, when Allie discovers who she is, she and Aiden make it clear that they are equals, and in a way you can really tell that the two of them belong together. It’s not the main focal point of the story, but it’s a sweet part of it.
I didn’t really have many problems with this book, except for the fact that there were so many characters in the beginning – it was a tiny bit overwhelming to remember who they all were, but nothing that would ruin the book. Also, the stories in the beginning slowed the book down a little for me, but they help you understand the Immortals, so I believe they were important.
This book was completely original and entertaining, and while the beginning was a little slow for me, the second half of the book just flew by. It was such a great story!
Note: I won a copy of this book from the Goodreads First Reads Program.
• Interview with Melissa A. Craven •
Q. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Where did you grow up? What made you decide to be a writer?
A. I grew up near Atlanta, Georgia, but I also lived in Cleveland, Ohio for a long time. Cleveland feels like home to me so it was never a question about where the setting for Emerge would take place. I’m back in Atlanta now, but I’m kind of a Nomad, so I like to wander around and experience new places. I was a bit of a late bloomer and didn’t get around to doing the college thing until I was in my late twenties. I discovered my love for writing while I was in college and that’s when I first started writing Emerge. For a long time, writing was just this thing I loved to do and it just kind of grew from there until I had the confidence to really go for it.
Q. What do you like to do for fun when you aren’t writing?
A. Honestly, writing is my fun thing to do, but sometimes I need a break. I was an interior designer before I became a writer, but I still do small design projects for fun. I love finding old furniture and giving it a facelift.
Q. What’s your favorite part of the writing process?
A. Just getting lost in something new. Emerge: The Awakening was my learning project and I had a lot of learning to do. I spent years, writing, rewriting, editing and proofreading again and again before the rough draft evolved into the final product. Working on something completely new to further the series is so refreshing! I love delving into the minds of my characters and just letting the scene take me there. When I’m in the zone, I’m totally in la-la land. A war could be going on around me and I wouldn’t notice! I love that.
Q. Where did you come up with the idea for the Emerge series?
A. Well, I did it backwards because I like to do things the hard way. I decided to write a book before I actually had the idea. I’d just come off a very disappointing reading stint where heroines in YA were just killin’ me. Every time I picked up a book, I was disappointed with the way young women were represented. There was no balance. Girls were either whiny and weak without their male counterparts to hold them up or they were hard and jaded, leaving their love interests to trail along behind them as a liability. There was zero balance or even a shred of equality, and that is a subject I am passionate about. I was inspired to write a story that could fill that gap, something that could show young readers that it doesn’t have to be one way or the other–that men and women can be equally strong together. Once I started thinking about what I wanted my story to be, I decided early on that my characters would be young Immortals with cool powers and that their parents would have interesting histories. Over the years, Emerge has gone through many different phases and it’s light years away from my original draft, but those core elements have always remained the same.
Q. In Emerge: The Awakening, the main character, Allie, undergoes a major change on her sixteenth birthday when she finds out she is one of the Immortals. How would you have handled news like that if you were in Allie’s shoes?
A. Not nearly as well as she does. I’m not sure if I’d be cowering in the corner, completely terrified or if I’d be out skydiving singing The Queen song, Princes of the Universe. (and I probably just dated myself there!)
Q. In the beginning of the book, it’s mentioned quite a bit that Allie moves around a lot. That couldn’t have been easy for her. Did you move around a lot when you were young?
A. Yes, yes I did. I changed schools a lot growing up and it was never easy. I drew on those experiences when developing this part of Allie’s story, even more so in Emerge: The Edge, which is a prequel novella to The Awakening. I struggled during that time of my life and as much as my parents regret it, I don’t. Those experiences shaped me into the person I am today and I’m not sure I would have the strength I have now, if I hadn’t gone through that.
Q. Allie undergoes a lot of changes and definitely grows as a character. It must have been so satisfying watching her develop and learn about herself. Did her character surprise you in any way while you were writing? Were there any unexpected plot twists in the book that you hadn’t planned on originally?
A. It has been extremely rewarding to watch Allie evolve into this very real person. She’s gone through many stages to get where she is and I’m so happy with the way she’s learned to keep her head up no matter what life (or my imagination) throws at her. There is so much of myself in Allie, I’m usually pretty certain how she will react to different situations and people. She’s always been the character that is crystal clear in my mind, but I never really planned for Allie and Gregg to have such a special relationship. That particular relationship has taken a different direction than I originally intended, which you will learn a little more about in The Edge and even more so in my currently unnamed work in progress.
As solid as Allie has been from the beginning, there have been many unexpected twists that were not part of the original plan. In the first several drafts, the ending was completely different. As I built the story, layer by layer, that ending didn’t feel as strong as I wanted it to be.
Q. Which character is your favorite?
A. I adore Allie and Aidan, but Darius might be my most favorite character to write. I really never know what he’s going to do or what’s going to come out of his mouth next. He’s that character that just came out of nowhere and did his own thing. He was never supposed to be anything more than one of Aidan’s many brothers, but no one ever told him that! He likes to do his own thing so you can expect to see much more of him later in the series.
Q. Can you tell us a little bit about your next book?
A. Emerge: The Edge is a prequel novella, which takes place in the months leading up to the events of The Awakening. The Edge is a result of all my years of working on book one, which in its original draft, was way too long for one book. The Edge is the missing content of book one. I felt it was important for the reader to go back and get to know the “before” Allie and Aidan a little better before the series continues. We know Allie is flawed, but she’s real and her struggles have shaped her into the girl she’s becoming. She will always be a strong young woman, but no one is strong 100% of the time. Not even Aidan. Aidan has his own flaws, and he struggles with them throughout this book. I wanted to show a side of him we only got a glimpse of in book one. Allie and Aidan have changed each other in a positive way, and as they move forward, they will continue to grow and learn how to stand on their own two feet as individuals, while drawing strength from their friendship and the unique understanding they have of each other. But it’s important to know what they’ve been through on their own.
The Edge is Aidan’s book and it’s told primarily from his perspective. Here’s a quick look at the synopsis.
Alienated by everything that sets him apart, Aidan McBrien suffers in silence.
He is the most powerful Immortal of his generation, but he chooses to live behind a mask to protect himself, even from those he loves. They can never know how much he struggles just to get through each day, overwhelmed by the pain and loss of everyone around him. As he fights a constant battle to control the gifts that threaten to push him over the edge, he dreads the day his world will look to him to fulfill a prophecy that he doesn’t even believe in.
As Aidan’s equal, Allie Carmichael endures the same isolation, but in complete ignorance of her true nature. When she meets Gavin, Allie sees a tiny glimmer of the life she wants to live, and the person she wants to be, but her instincts tell her it will never work.
Allie and Aidan have led parallel lives on opposite ends of the earth, but their paths are about to converge. With others making decisions for them, will they ever truly understand the immeasurable power they posses, or the prophecy that might not be about Aidan after all?
The Edge will make you want to go back and read The Awakening again, and I guarantee you will see things differently upon a second reading.
See the cover reveal on August 25th only on YABooksCentral.com available for pre-order on Amazon on 8/25/15.
Q. What are some of your favorite books, and why?
A. I’m a huge fan of epic fantasy, and have been long before Game of Thrones made it even more awesome. The Demon cycle by Peter V. Brett is one of my favorites because it is everything I love about the genre, without the huge time commitment of a dozen 800+ page books (at least not yet!) Brett’s work is very original and I love that.
But I’m a YA fangirl at heart. I’ve been so busy writing, I’m way behind in my TBR pile. I’m not much of a fan of Dystopian, but I recently read the first book of Kayla Howarth’s, The Institute series and I loved it! She’s done an incredible job creating a genuinely strong female lead with a dynamic cast of supporting characters.
Patrick Hodges’ Joshua’s Island was a recent, very emotional read that really surprised me. The characters are a very young, adorable couple, but I love the way they have so much strength together through a very trying time. You’ll need a box of tissues with this one.
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