Farrar, Straus & Giroux
January 12, 2016
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“I try not to think about it, what I did to that boy.”The Killing Jar has some great (and definitely broad, general) things that reminded me of Jennifer Bosworth's 2012 Struck. There was something different and special about Struck's Mia (she was addicted to lightning - as in being struck by it) and there was an element of a 'cult' like group. Here, there's something different about Kenna, as well, and there is Eclipse. That is it for the similarities, however.
Seventeen-year-old Kenna Marsden has a secret.
She’s haunted by a violent tragedy she can’t explain. Kenna’s past has kept people—even her own mother—at a distance for years. Just when she finds a friend who loves her and life begins to improve, she’s plunged into a new nightmare. Her mom and twin sister are attacked, and the dark powers Kenna has struggled to suppress awaken with a vengeance.
On the heels of the assault, Kenna is exiled to a nearby commune, known as Eclipse, to live with a relative she never knew she had. There, she discovers an extraordinary new way of life as she learns who she really is, and the wonders she’s capable of. For the first time, she starts to feel like she belongs somewhere. That her terrible secret makes her beautiful and strong, not dangerous. But the longer she stays at Eclipse, the more she senses there is something malignant lurking underneath it all. And she begins to suspect that her new family has sinister plans for her…
Kenna's secret was more supernatural than I was expecting based off of the synopsis. It was clear that she had, somehow, been responsible for the death of a boy and has had to suppress 'dark powers.' Just what all of that entails is left for the reader to discover.
Once we learn what Kenna did or caused and why it's meant keeping others from getting too close, the story really gets moving. I really enjoyed that we do not get all of the explanation right at once. Even though it is Kenna's secret, it is not something she fully understands.
As she uncovers more about herself, those 'powers,' and about her family, the story takes some fantastic twists and turns. The Killing Jar is one of my favorite first person narrations. Thanks to the story, her thoughts and interpretations, coming from Kenna, it was hard, at times, to know what to think of her. We didn't have an outside character or even a third person narration to tell us whether certain parts were really, truly Kenna or how things were impacting her. (There's likely a clearer but still non-spoilery way to explain that, but I don't have it.)
I loved that I seriously, seriously disliked her character, her perspective and attitude at times, but had to question whether it was 'real' or the influence of something/someone else. That bit of questioning the character was a nice added element and gave an extra layer to the whole story.
Kenna's secret and journey to the full truth behind it, her relationships and the development of her character all make The Killing Jar a great read. Eclipse and all that happens there - along with why - was weird, strange and sometimes disturbing but really creative and original.
review copy received, via NetGalley, from publisher