My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent
Series: Soul Screamers #1
Published by Harlequin Teen on August 1 2009
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal
Pages: 279 (8.5 hours)
Rating: 3/5 stars
She doesn't see dead people. She senses when someone near her is about to die. And when that happens, a force beyond her control compels her to scream bloody murder. Literally.
Kaylee just wants to enjoy having caught the attention of the hottest guy in school. But a normal date is hard to come by when Nash seems to know more about her need to scream than she does. And when classmates start dropping dead for no apparent reason, only Kaylee knows who'll be next.
I went into My Soul to Take with very low expectations. I've read one Rachel Vincent book before, Stray which I didn't enjoy. At all. In fact, it's one of the worst books I've read this year, but that's beside the point. What I'm getting to is that I was very pleasantly surprised by my second foray into Rachel Vincent's work. There were some things that troubled me about it, but for the most part I enjoyed listening to it. The narrator was easy to listen to, though I noticed a few strange pauses that I think might be due to her temporarily losing her place in the book.
I liked Kaylee - most of the time. She could certainly use more development, but she's sixteen and there are quite a few more books in the series for her to grow up in. I'm giving that the benefit of the doubt. One big problem I faced with Kaylee was her insecurity when it came to Nash. I think this was partially due to the fact that she was kind of right - there was no real reason I could see for Nash to be interested in her aside from their shared heritage. I understood Kaylee's dismay in the scene at Taboo, but after that it just got irritating. The biggest annoyance was that it seemed to me that those thoughts and the way they were worded were simply copy/pasted from one scene to the next. They didn't have any depth beyond "why does Nash like me instead of those pretty, vapid girls who keep hitting on him right in front of me??".
Speaking of Nash, I actually quite liked him at first. And then his complete lack of personality started to become apparent. I hated the co-dependence between he and Kaylee. I think the book would have been much stronger if Kaylee hadn't needed to lean on him for support quite so often. Literally, she physically leans on him for support at the funeral. They immediately became one of those couples who are never apart. Just because you are dating someone doesn't mean you can't do things on your own every now and then.
One of the things that I really liked at the beginning of the book but that was quickly sidelined was Kaylee's friendship with Emma. I find in a lot of YA paranormal books the only relationship the MC maintains is the relationship with the LI, so I was excited at the prospect of a MC with a strong friendship that looked as though it might be given a bit more attention. Unfortunately, Emma ended up being far more of a plot device than an actual character. The only things I know about Emma are that she likes to get drunk at clubs, is more popular than Kaylee, and she has quite a few sisters. It didn't feel like a genuine friendship, which I found really disappointing.
My biggest annoyance, however, was Sophie. She was so hateful and mean and there was absolutely no character development. She isn't given any depth and I found the relationship between her and Kaylee completely unbelievable. Sophie is a stock character who doesn't exist in real life, and she and characters like her are one of my biggest pet peeves. It reeks of lazy writing. It really wouldn't have been difficult to craft Sophie into an actual multi-dimensional person.
On a more positive note, I really liked the mythology and the way it was used. It was painfully obvious that Kaylee was a banshee (or bean sidhe, as is the original Celtic spelling used in the book). I was a little bit frustrated by her ignorance, as it would be obvious to anyone with any knowledge of the creature what she was, but that seems to be a common theme in YA paranormal books, and I accept it as such. The use of Reapers and bean sidhe was clever and I'm interested to read more about Todd and how he exists at all. I'm not sure whether or not I'll actually continue the series, but the possibility isn't off the table.