In this post: Book Details, My Review, Author Hot Seat
Book One in the Nirvana Series
Jade has spent her entire life within the confines of the eye-colour- obsessed Nirvana commune. She dreams of experiencing freedom but travel to the Outside is forbidden. Besides, she’s a dutiful daughter who never breaks the rules. As her seventeenth birthday approaches, however, she realizes just how little she wants to follow the commune rules. She doesn’t want to undergo another eye color surgery, or immediately choose a life partner, or follow her parents’ life paths of teaching or wine making. In fact, her green eyes suit her just fine, she’s never even been on a date, and she’s passionate about photography. And yet she’s resigned to do as she’s told because it’s easier for her to close her eyes and follow orders.
Her Grandmother Ruby’s murder is the catalyst that causes Jade to open her eyes wide for the first time in her life. She’s devastated yet determined to find the killer and their motive. With help from her mysterious friend Tyrian, and Peaches, the commune leader’s sweet daughter, Jade unearths dark secrets which include her mother’s illicit affair, her maternal grandparents’ escape from Nirvana, and a plethora of murders. To make matters worse, someone is hell bent on ending Jade’s mission for the truth, and that someone is most likely the killer.
Jade can’t continue conforming to an evil society and yet she fears the Outside is just as corrupt. If she resolves to flee and is caught, the punishment is banishment to the slave cabins…and blinding.
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I get really excited when I find a writer who really knows how to tell a story. Kristy Feltenberger Gillespie could have turned the phonebook into a narrative and I would have lapped it up page by page. I am delighted to say that Jaded is a serious page-turner, a well told story with fully formed characters and an intriguing plot that sets up what promises to be a fascinating series.
Gillespie takes puts a huge twist on the tidal wave of (mostly boring) dystopian fiction that the YA world is dominated by right now, taking the idea of totalitarianism, surveillance and control and bundling it into a claustrophobic commune with shocking ways of life and little contact with our modern day existence. It was so well conceived and realistic that I felt as though Nirvana could really exist out there somewhere.
As usual I found that my favourite characters were some of the minor ones (Ivory, Rust and True), but surprisingly for me I sincerely related to Jade, the lead heroine and found her love interest Ty to be sweet and sincere. I don't go in for gushy romantic moments and there was none of that rubbish in Jaded: Gillespie has created something far more important and far more real for her characters to experience.
Overall this was an excellent read. If I had the second book in this series I would be starting it right now. As it is I will have to wait patiently for Hunted and imagine all the possibilities for Jade along the way. A definite recommended read for everyone I know.
The Hot Seat: Five Essential Questions with author Kristy Feltenberger Gillespie
1) If you could choose an eye colour (from those of the characters in your books), which colour would you pick for yourself and why?
I would choose the color blue for a number of reasons. For one, it's my favorite color, my eyes are already blue so perhaps I could somehow dodge the eye color surgery, and like Jade's father Royal, I love wine, so that's the career path I'd hopefully land!
2) How much research did you do into the professions of Jade's parents to get such vivid descriptions of their workplaces?
Fortunately, I didn't have to do too much research on Jade's parents' professions. I worked at a winery for three years and I currently work as a middle school counselor, so I know quite a bit about wine making and teaching, which helped!
3) Who would your dream cast actor and actress be for Ty and Jade?
It it was 1994, Claire Danes and Jared Leto, who stared on my favorite show at the time- My So-Called Life (pictured above). Not sure which actress and actor now!
4) Can you give us a tease of what's coming next in Book 2: Hunted?
A few teasers from Book Two, Hunted: This novel goes back and forth between Jade and Peaches point of view. Ty's uncle Hunter causes a slight rift between them. At least one person in this novel is hunted, and at least one person in this novel is kidnapped!
5) What sort of books and writers influence your storytelling style?
To me, one of the most influential YA writers is Lauren Oliver, who I met several years ago at a writing conference. After listening to her talk, I started thinking about writing in the YA genre. She's fabulous!