I know, I know. It's been a while since my last Bookanista review. I hate how little time I have to read! One thing I DON'T hate?? Untraceable, by S. R. Johannes! In fact, I LOVE IT. :-D
I've been hearing about the Nature of Grace series for a while, and given that the books take place in the wilderness of NC - and I both like the wilderness AND live in North Carolina - they seemed right up my alley. So I decided to check out Untraceable, the first in the series.
16-year-old Grace has lived in the Smokies all her life, patrolling with her forest ranger father who taught her about wildlife, tracking, and wilderness survival.
When her dad goes missing on a routine patrol, Grace refuses to believe he’s dead and fights the town authorities, tribal officials, and nature to find him.
One day, while out tracking clues, Grace is rescued from danger by Mo, a hot guy with an intoxicating accent and a secret. As her feelings between him and her ex-boyfriend get muddled, Grace travels deep into the wilderness to escape and find her father.
Along the way, Grace learns terrible secrets that sever relationships and lives. Soon she’s enmeshed in a web of conspiracy, deception, and murder. And it’s going to take a lot more than a compass and a motorcycle (named Lucifer) for this kick-butting heroine to save everything she loves.
It took me about three chapters until I was as desperate as Grace was to find her dad. This story had a lot of elements - suspense, mystery, environmental thriller, romance, and coming of age to name a few - and they all combined seamlessly to create an intense, fast-paced read. It took me a few pages to get used to Grace's voice, but I think it's because it was very authentic...and she begins the book a bit of a whiny teenager. Of course, she has reason to be. She's lost her father and everyone else seems to be moving on. In a way, this story is about faith...and also the process of letting go.
I loved how the forest became a character in and of itself. I LOVE books where the setting does more than merely provide a backdrop, and the wilderness here is a great example of this. I love how Grace's state of mind is reflected in how she perceives the forest...when she's relaxed and confident, it's beautiful and comforting. When she's scared, the trees claw at her and make her stumble. It's so beautiful when a character's inner state is reflected in her/his surroundings...and Johannes does this SO well.
The environmental thriller element was really well done and I actually learned a lot without feeling like I was being preached to. I particularly like the "tips" at the beginning of each chapter. That was a nice touch!
I didn't feel as invested in the romance, but I have a feeling the next books in the series are going to build on that element, so I'm looking forward to that. In general, I think it will be fun to get to know the characters even better and discover what new injustices Grace is going to fight.
The plot moves quickly and took some unexpected twists and turns. I really had no idea how it would turn out. Well, I had *some* ideas but they were all wrong. :-)
If you're a fan of environmental thrillers or coming of age stories, this is a great blend of the two. You'll be rooting for Grace in no time! :-) I'm off to check out book 2, Uncontrollable!
Check out what the rest of the Bookanistas are raving about this week!
- Tracy Banghart finds intrigue and adventure in UNTRACEABLE by S.R.Johannes
- Nikki Katz finds her voice with THE GIRL GUIDE by Christine Fonseca
- Jessica Love loses her dreams with THE DREAM THIEVES by Maggie Stievfater
- Kimberly Sabatini exposes the secrets of REMOVED by S.J. Pajonas
- Katy Upperman finds love in THE TRUTH ABOUT YOU AND ME by Amanda Grace