Disclaimer: I received a free ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Lynette Noni, author of the Medoran Chronicles has released the first in a new young adult series, Whisper. Given the high rating of Noni's Medoran novels (an average of 4.39 on Goodreads), I'm surprised that I hadn't heard of this author! I picked Whisper up as a Netgalley ARC shortly before it's official release - and I'm so glad I did.
Whisper tells the story of Subject Six-Eight-Four. Six-Eight-Four is a young woman, locked away for two and half years, experimented on in a secret government facility called Lengard. During her stay she has failed to utter one word, becoming known as Jane Doe to her evaluators and guards. Her silence prompts the head of the facility to assign her a new guard whose surprisingly kind approach begins to disrupt Jane's resolve. But as she begins to speak, Jane also begins to learn more about Lengard, its operations, mysterious program, and her place in it.
As a young adult novel, Whisper stands apart from the crowd; a difficult task in a saturated genre. Told in first-person form, Whisper's protagonist offers a singular view of the Lengard facility, creating a sense of mystery. Jane Doe is a well-rounded character, albeit sometimes self-centred (but what teenage girl isn't?) and repetitive, but overall an enjoyable narrator.
Typical of a young adult novel, a sense of romance permeates the pages. For someone who isn't fond of a lot of romance in their reads, the other elements of Whisper kept me enthralled enough to see it through. My main issue with the semi-romantic plot was the use of one unexplained nickname, which a boy continues to use despite Jane's insistence that he stop. Although it made me uncomfortable and wary of the character, the reasoning revealed by the final pages was satisfactory.
I am interested to see how Jane's relationships with friends and possible romances continue throughout the future novels. The characters were all compelling, particularly Cami. Thinking retrospectively, I don't often see strong female friendships represented in young adult novels. This one was wonderful.
Some of the topics in Whisper are typical for a young adult novel; friends, family, attraction, self-confidence, fear, truth and trust, and responsibility. All are handled very well, integrated perfectly into the story through Noni's writing. The themes that really shine, however, are those of mental health; PTSD, depression, anxiety, and panic disorders. The main theme of the novel, in fact, the very premise is the power of words. While some say "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me", most people know it isn't true. Whisper takes a literal look at just how badly words can hurt, and how much power can be wielded with them. It's amazing and praise-worthy that Noni has managed to cover so many themes and topics in a relatively short novel, particularly given its status as young adult fiction.
"Words are too precious to throw around carelessly ... Words demand respect. They are beautiful; they are terrible."
- Lynette Noni, Whisper
Whisper is a breath of fresh air in the young adult genre. The characters, relationships, primary theme, and setting all make Whisper a compelling start to a new series. I look forward to following Jane Doe's story in Lynette Noni's follow-up books.
Why Read This Book?
- Young adult
- Female author
- Australian author
- First in series
- Strong themes
- Captivating characters
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