Ashleigh Paige

I'm a full-time college sophomore pursuing my B.A. in English with hopes of one day working as an editor. Cats, musicals, documentaries about cults/disasters/tragedies, and curse words are just a few of my favorite things. Also, check out our blog or I WILL FIND YOU.

Alyzon Whitestarr - Isobelle Carmody Also appears on The Screaming Nitpicker.Alyzon Whitestarr was the plainest member of the Whitestarrs, a seven-person family with many eccentric qualities, little money, and a whole lot of love. She gets knocked in the head with a car door because of Wombat, the obese family cat, and when she wakes up from her month-long coma, her senses have drastically improved. She can hear, taste, and see better than ever before and she can smell the moods and essences of others, such as her Da's caramelized sugar contentment and sister Serenity's licorice (as Sybl) and violets (as Serenity) essence. Then when school hottie Harlen Sanderson starts coming around, she finds that he smells disgusting! While learning to control her new senses and avoiding a persistent Harlen, she and her new friends try to discover what this rotting scent of essences means and save Alyzon's family from their various dilemmas.I was captivated by this idea as soon as I read the summary and the first few chapters. It sat on my wish list for months before I finally ordered it and I'm glad I did because it was worth the read. This book brings up some pretty deep points, such as the talking about doing something to help vs. actually doing it debate and the futility of anger because of how we waste our lives being angry instead of doing something about what has made us so unhappy.I didn't have a favorite character this time around because I had a soft spot for so many of the characters: Da, the musical, loving father of the family; Mum, the head-in-the-clouds, artistic mother; Jesse, the oldest child who plays blues and has words inside him waiting to be let out; Mirandah, who wears clothes all of one color until she decides it's time for a new color; Alyzon, her new powers, and her determination to keep her family safe; Serenity, who demands to be called Sybl and is easily the most complex character in the book; and adorable baby Luke. Everyone has a little piece of my heart this time around- even the bad guys, except for one of them.By the way, Alyzon: thank you for not finding Harlen's possessive, almost stalker-like behavior romantic! You found it just as creepy as I did (which is to say, very creepy).This book had its fair share of flaws, too. Sometimes when I was reading, I would get so annoyed with just how many deep issues Mrs. Carmody was trying to handle in one novel that I commented to myself that the book wanted to be as deep as a bottomless pit. I love deep issues as much as the next girl and can't stand it when a book has no substance at all, but not so many issues in one book, please! My puny human brain can only handle so much before it wants to explode from all the thinking. It did make me think a lot, so that's great.I felt like the novel was a little longer than it needed to be. Long books are awesome too, but there were a few places that I feel like things were drug out for a little too long. If I went through the book right now, there are at least ten pages I could immediately strike out as not-very-contributive and with more careful analysis, who knows how many more might be eliminated? Another little thing that made me wonder was that Alyzon told her friends- who, in reality, were mostly people she'd just met- about her new powers when the family that she was so close to was left in the dark. I almost understand because of the circumstances around the time that she told them about her enhanced senses, but then I remembered how odd her family was. Does she think they won't understand because of how weird it is, yet that these near-strangers will because of what happened just before she told them? I don't get it. For a little while, I was worried about false advertising because I was at page 300 or so and hadn't seen any signs of the mythical romance. If there's anything I hate, it's false advertising on my books. It did show up, though I felt like Alyzon and the guy she had the romance with had a better friendship dynamic than a romantic one. I would have preferred that they stayed just friends because part of what brought this book down was this mostly-inauthentic romance.I also feel this book was miscategorized. On the back cover, it calls itself "a fantastical tale of... the paranormal," but I wouldn't call this a paranormal romance book. I would call this more of a sci-fi lite book. Alyzon's powers have an origin that's grounded in reality- brain damage- and the rotting of the souls is often called a virus or sickness, which also makes it feel more scientific than fantastic. (On a very late note: I found it amazing how many people the sickness touched. Just... wow.)This wasn't a bad book by any means, but there were a few issues holding it back from being truly great. I do recommend it, but be ready for a book that develops rather slowly and tries to cover a huge number of subjects in a fairly large amount of pages. It'll make you think or your money back! I just wish there was a sequel; when I did a search, I found something saying that the author was unlikely to write a sequel to Alyzon Whitestarr.