After putting Graham Joyce on my list of authors I’d like to read more of, I finally got around to reading another one, The Exchange. And I liked it. This could be a pattern.
It took me a while to warm up to the story. Our heroine, Caz is a little messed up, but she’s all right at heart. She hangs out with her best friend, Lucy, and skate the hairy edge of trouble without quite getting there. We meet Caz’s mother, we pointedly don’t meet Lucy’s parents, and we met their passable boyfriends. Then Caz gets a mysterious glowing bracelet on her wrist, and she can’t take it off. I was hooked.
And two hours later, I put down the book with a glow. I was surprised; in a lot of ways, it’s your typical YA novel about messed-up kids. It helps that the girls are portrayed with none of the forced perkiness that throws me out of some books. They do grouse about their lot, but manage not to whine. And I was moved by their loyalty to each other.
Even so, I doubt I would have stayed with the book, if it weren’t for the bracelet. Its magic is original, and unwinding its mystery kept me engaged. It leads Caz into some strange, scary, and cool places. Since she’s all right at heart, she figures out how to turn its curse into a blessing. In the end, the book reveals a just universe, where the good are rewarded and the wicked chastised.