April 19, 2012

Harbinger by Sara Wilson Etienne {Review}

Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons BYR
Publish Date: February 2, 2012
Source: Library
When sixteen-year-old Faye arrives at Hollbrook Academy, she doesn't expect to find herself exactly where she needs to be. After years of strange waking visions and nightmares, her only comfort the bones of dead animals, Faye is afraid she's going crazy. Fast.
But her first night at Holbrook, she feels strangely connected to the school and the island it sits on, like she's come home. She's even made her first real friends, but odd things keep happening to them. Every morning they wake on the floors of their dorm rooms with their hands stained red.
Faye knows she's the reason, bu what does it all mean? The handsome Kel tries to help her unravel the mystery, but Faye is certain she can't trust him; in fact, he may be trying to kill her -- and the rest of the world, too.

Harbinger was…strange. That’s honestly the best word I can think of to describe it. I’d say it’s a strange that falls onto the side of good-strange, though.

It took a while for me to really get into the story because I knew there was something more than just a regular ol’ boarding school story there. The only indication of that was the red hands, though and the synopsis had already told me about that. I wanted something more and I just wasn’t getting it. Ask and you shall receive, right? Harbinger definitely delivered on the “different” front by the end.

Sadly, though it was definitely different, it still didn’t quite work for me. It felt a bit like the ending was just kind of thrown at me. Like there wasn’t really much easing into it and then BAM crazy ending. I did appreciate the ending to some degree, though. Before reading I’d heard a lot of people wanting to know whether this was a standalone (it is) which usually means some sort of cliffhanger-like ending and I like my standalone endings to be tied up nicely. I needn’t worry, though, because I ended up being rather satisfied with the ending.

The Nutshell: Harbinger is strange. A sort-of good strange, in my opinion, but incredibly strange nonetheless. If you like strange, dying worlds, and/or reform/boarding schools, you’ll find at least something in Harbinger for you.

Pages: 309
Series: No
Rating: Near Miss (this is the first review with the new rating system and the explanation can be found to you right.)


  1. Yay new rating system! I had some issues with the ending. It really was thrown at you how crazy the ending is and I got REALLY confused the first crazy chapter. Good review!

  2. Too bad you didn't love this one .. Thanks for the honest review Jasmine. I wasn't planning to read this one because I had heard it was a strange book before and I wasn't totally interested in it anyway so your review enabled me to really make my mind about it. Thanks :)

  3. I agree with your assessment, Jasmine! This is one case where I felt like EVERYONE seemed to be gushing and raving over this book and I just thought that the second half went a little...odd and the ending was rushed, like you mentioned. I liked the beginning, though, and I think it had potential. I liked the characters and the setting. It just fell flat somewhere in the last half to one-third, I thought.

    That cover, though? AMAZING. So beautiful with that moon and the red sash. Love it.

  4. Great honest review. I actually liked this one but I can certainly see why you didn't. It was definitely not a book for everyone.

  5. This one looks so neat - I really am curious to give it a try for myself and see what I think.

  6. This is actually the first review for Harbinger that I've read, and I'm glad it's from you because I feel like we usually feel pretty similarly on books! I didn't get as excited about Harbinger as some people, but I do still want to read it at some point. I'm a sucker for boarding school, and I like strange, but we'll see. Not a priority knowing how you felt. Thanks, Jasmine!

  7. Oh and I agree with Ashley about the cover...did you see Forever YA's calendar for this month? LOVE IT!

  8. Sara Wilson Etienne's debut is very original and set in what seems to be a dystopian world, but without being a dystopian story. The characters live in Cooperatives, there has been a big war and there's an underlying theme of the planet dying but the story takes place in a boarding school that is seemingly removed from it all. The setting (both the school and what's happening in the outside world) are great for the story and having the added complexity of the world the characters come from not be what we're accustomed to, really adds to things.
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