I honestly wasn’t too sure what I’d be getting with “The Trace” and it’s Metahumans—a group of people with some X-men like vibes with their superpowers—and the Grifters—disgusting looking creatures who are morally opposed to the good guys. I wasn’t sure where a story like this would take place that would make it suspenseful or exciting. But Thorne delivers so many wonderful surprises that I was enthralled and excited and entertained and any other positive E word you want to add in there. We follow young Ella Kepler, normal high school girl one day, the next? She discovers she’s a metahuman and has super speed and strength, and the Grifters want her for reasons she doesn’t understand. Whisked away when the Grifters attack her home, Ella is told the truth about who she is, what she can do, and introduced to a secret society of sorts right under her nose that’s raging a war against the Grifters to keep humans safe. How cool is that? This book has so many enthralling (ha, there’s another E word for you) moments alongside its secrets, that I was hard pressed to put this book down and pick up others for book reviewing purposes!
This book has a lot of fun action, but the character banter between Ella and her best friend Kara, and Ella and her new found protector, Ethan, is just as fun. The mystery of what’s happening is teased early and well to where the reader always feels just a step away from all the answers, only to discover something else, something vital, is still missing. Thorne masterfully teases out the secrets, so when the twists come—of which there are a few throughout the story—they feel like a REAL twist, not one of those twists that simply has to be done because the author has accidentally written themselves into a corner. I LOVED that about this book because those kinds of twists are so hard to do, and when they are done well, I find them to be incredibly satisfying.
While the vast majority of the book is kind of like a training montage for Ella, I liked that she wasn’t immediately the most amazing metahuman there was. It felt real and made watching Ella grow and get better all the more realistic. Plus, it allows the author to explore the conflict between the metahumans and the Grifters, teasing out the reasons WHY they fight and that perhaps everyone has been wrong the whole time. It’s wonderfully done without feeling preachy, and helps enhance the mystery around both of these groups that operate in the shadow of the general population. But, even with all the exciting action, and mysteries, and fight scenes, I must say that watching Ella grow and overcome the tremendous hurdles thrown at her was a real treat. So if you like some complex character development alongside your action and secret societies, this is going to be a fun ride for you.
The only thing I found a tad frustrating about the story is that Ella has one goal pretty much the entire time she’s at the academy learning about her new strengths and abilities, and that goal isn’t really accomplished come the end of the book. I’m being vague on purpose because knowing any of the details around that is super spoiler-y. Ella learns a ton that complicates her goal, that raises the stakes with accomplishing what she is driven to do, so I won’t say it’s a letdown, but it did feel a bit dragged out, especially at the end with the cliffhanger and the final surprises about who is behind all of Ella’s troubles. Which, the cliffhanger, oh lord! It’s the good kind of cliffhanger, one that makes you nervous and excited and race out to get the next book immediately, so don’t worry, but I did want more of that original goal to feel wrapped up, instead of feeling even farther away. But even with that, I so enjoyed this urban fantasy, and it’s touches of science fiction, along with all the twists and turns the author threw my way, that I’d be remiss to give this story anything less than 5 stars! I’m so happy I won this book as a giveaway, and am kicking myself that I didn’t read it sooner, it was so good!
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