Title: Mystical High
Author: Lisette Brodey
Published: October 7th, 2013
Publisher: Saberlee Books
Word Count: 72,700
Genre: YA Paranormal
Content Warning: Mild sexual content and non-gratuitous profanity
Recommended Age: 14+
In Mystekal, a small, dying town in the Southern California desert, only 75 students attend the old, sometimes creepy high school dubbed “Mystical High,” where strange things have been known to happen. Jessie Dalworth and Jinxsy Patterson are juniors and lifelong best friends. At home, Jessie deals with the pain of an absentee mother who has abandoned the family for the lure of Hollywood; Jinxsy contends with a 17th “birthday present” she never wanted or expected.
Meanwhile, at school, the unexplained activity begins to escalate when Jinxsy keeps seeing a long-haired guy in the hallway checking her out. Jessie can’t see him, but her younger brother, River, can.
Then, in English class, a stapler mysteriously flies off teacher Eve Carrow’s desk, hitting a student in the face who has just mouthed off to her. The beloved teacher is in the unenviable position of having her brute of a father as principal, so she hates sending any student to his office. As Principal Ernest Carrow begins to terrorize Eve and others more openly, something or someone unseen decides that it’s payback time.
School is getting stranger, and Jinxsy and Jessie are faced with mind-boggling changes in their home lives that complicate everything. When a string of shocking events expose explosive secrets, decades-long mysteries are finally revealed.
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The characters. If you want stereotypical, awesome teenage characters in their natural high school environment, I recommend reading Mystical High. The teenagers and their personalities and reactions to goings-on around them had an almost comical feel to them. Whether that was intentional or not, I quite enjoyed the over-the-top drama, the comical interactions between Jessie, Jinx, and Taylor, the bully, and I quite enjoyed the relationships portrayed, including the short one between Jessie and Cade, and the almost disgustingly gross one between the two bullies, Taylor and Santino.
I especially enjoyed the parent-child relationships between Jessie and her father, Mick, her aunt Stella, acting as a mother figure, and her real mother, whose development throughout the novel becomes more and more motherly. Jinx's relationship with her parents intrigued me. I quite liked her father, though her mother confused me to start with until I read further and discovered secrets that I'm not going to share with all you guys because they contain major spoilers.
This area would be the things I didn't care for, but which were more of a personal preference. I would say what I really didn't care for all that much is that the book boasts to be a paranormal young adult, but the extent of paranormal included is a couple of "ghost" encounters, while the rest of the plot focuses mostly on the lives of the two teenagers and their parental relationships. That said, it doesn't make the plot necessarily bad in any way--I just didn't care for it as I am more interested in the paranormal element in books playing a major part in the whole plot.
Secondly, i didn't much care for the extreme focus on dialogue which the author used. I got the feeling this could have been a really well-written script. I would say a good three-quarters of the book was dialogue (approximately) and the final quarter of the writing was only a 'point A to point B' sort of deal. This led to very little description of events and places, as well as lots of fast-paced work. The dialogue was, at least, easy to follow in most places and was fairly realistic.
This is the section I hate writing. I don't like putting down others' works, so I try really hard to balance the bad out with the good in this section. In Mystical High, I strongly felt like there needed to be more of everything. The writing itself was a little bland because there was very little description. I did not develop barely any ideas of what characters looked like. I did, at least, identify with most of the characters, but they needed to be described in more detail.
I found the tendency for telling as opposed to showing in many of the scenes distanced me from feeling anything with or for the characters. This meant that while I could identify with their situations and their ages, I did not emphasize with them very often.
Finally, I found that the book as a whole did not draw me in. The beginning didn't have a hook, and after that, there wasn't enough tension (or I wasn't engaged with the characters enough) to want to continue to read. I felt the book could have been improved astronomically if some of the scenes that might have provided conflict weren't just skipped over and if Brodey had created less passive characters. The passivity of some of the mains meant that they either backed down from conflict or they accepted the other person's views and feelings, avoiding arguments and conflict entirely.
Mystical High was a creative and slightly comical take on teenage life. If you're a fan of the paranormal, I wouldn't necessarily recommend it as it does not put very much focus on it at all, however, if you're a fan of YA and enjoy reading about the lives of teens, definitely give it a read. The characters were cute, funny, and for the most part well-developed. They created lots of enjoyable-to-read drama. The book places quite a focus on dialogue, so if you're a huge fan of theatre and scripts, this book is probably for you. The tendency to telling instead of showing, the lack of descriptions, and the lack of a good hook and good tension prevented this good book from being a great one, but it was still an enjoyable read.
Lisette Brodey was born and raised in Pennsylvania. After high school, she moved to New York City where she attended Pace University and studied drama. After ten years in New York, several of them working in the radio industry, she moved to Los Angeles, where she held various positions at Paramount Studios in Hollywood and CBS Studio Center in Studio City, CA.
Back on the East Coast, she worked for many years as a freelance writer, specializing in PR and the entertainment industry. In 2010, she returned permanently to the Los Angeles area.
Her first-published book, CROOKED MOON (General Fiction) was published in both the trade paperback and Kindle editions in 2008. Her first-written, second-published book, SQUALOR, NEW MEXICO (Young Adult/General Fiction) was published in the Kindle and trade paperback versions in 2009.
Her third novel, MOLLY HACKER IS TOO PICKY!, a romantic comedy, was published December 1, 2011. The author blogged as her character, Molly Hacker, for over a year. All blogs can be found at www.mollyhacker.com.
In January 2013, the author edited and published a book of her mother's poetry (written 50 years earlier) called MY WAY TO ANYWHERE by Jean Lisette Brodey.
Lisette's fourth novel, MYSTICAL HIGH, is the first book in her YA Paranormal Desert Series trilogy.
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