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July 11, 2017
"The New Recruit" by Elise Abram
You may not have heard of Canadian YA Author Elise Abram yet, but that's about to change.
You know that feeling when you're totally fangirling a new YA and you want more, more, more? When you discover a new author and you just can't get enough? That's how I feel after reading Elise Abram.
I met Elise at an authors' event back in 2014. Our paths have crossed many times since then at author readings, Local Authors Nights, and the Vaughan Writers Club. Yet in all that time, I'd never read any of Elise's work; not until now, that is... which has left me shaking my head, wondering what took me so long.
Let me tell you a little bit about Elise Abram's latest novel, The New Recruit. It begins like a typical YA: teenage girl (Judith, or Jude for short) starts a new school and meets a super cute guy (Cain). Only here's the catch: the cute guy feels a little off and is involved in something big... something that Jude is about to get caught right in the middle of.
The New Recruit isn't a romance but it's during those moments when Cain and Jude grow closer that Elise Abram is really in her element. There is something magical about the way she describes first love and each little moment the main characters share. It's the best—and worst—thing about The New Recruit. Remember how I said something off about Cain? Well, I had those warning bells going off in my head from the start, and yet Elise Abram still managed to sell me on Cain. On Jude and Cain. On Jain.
So what is The New Recruit if it's not a romance? It's a commentary on ecoterrorism and I'd also say it's a cautionary tale. It's so wrong that somehow it's right. It's terrifying and intriguing and nauseating and frustrating and yet somehow innocent and sweet.
Like Jude's favourite drink—a half dark roast coffee, half hot chocolate— The New Recruit is a mix of dark and sweet. Each page, each sip, has a bitter, uncomfortable aftertaste but it somehow still leaves you wanting more.
The New Recruit does start a little slow and takes time getting good. It takes a couple dozen pages, but then it turns into a plot-driven emotional rollercoaster that's definitely worth waiting for. I also spent at least three quarters of the book convinced Cain was actually a vampire: I know, I know, but his music and interests really made him seem less 19, and more 190. Jude mostly seems her age, but not always. When she describes her Dad's job, she talks about middle management, suppliers, and recession... I mean, what teen really cares about all that stuff? That and all the obscure old rock bands? Jude, I guess. I mean, doesn't every high school have that one business-savvy sixteen year old who listen to eighties music, keeps up with current events, and compares her crush to John Hughes? If you overlook these minor quirks, Jude does comes off as pretty normal and relatable.
Bottom line? The New Recruit is well-written, and can I just say the cover is absolutely awesome? I can't wait to read the sequel and I'm super excited because Elise Abram already has five other books out, and I plan to read them all. Oh, and when her next book comes out, I'll be first in line.
I absolutely adore YA and I predict that one day, we'll be seeing Elise Abram on a YA bestseller list. Just remember that you heard it here first!