Freeksby Amanda Hocking
Published by Macmillan, St. Martin's Griffin on January 3rd 2017
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Welcome to Gideon Davorin’s Traveling Sideshow, where necromancy, magical visions, and pyrokinesis are more than just part of the act…
Mara has always longed for a normal life in a normal town where no one has the ability to levitate or predict the future. Instead, she roams from place to place, cleaning the tiger cage while her friends perform supernatural feats every night.
When the struggling sideshow is miraculously offered the money they need if they set up camp in Caudry, Louisiana, Mara meets local-boy Gabe…and a normal life has never been more appealing.
But before long, performers begin disappearing and bodes are found mauled by an invisible beast. Mara realizes that there’s a sinister presence lurking in the town with its sights set on getting rid of the sideshow freeks. In order to unravel the truth before the attacker kills everyone Mara holds dear, she has seven days to take control of a power she didn’t know she was capable of—one that could change her future forever.
I have been wanting to read a book by Amanda Hocking ever since she hit the “scene” with her huge hit Switched, about trolls. Of course I own it, along with Hollowland and I’m pretty sure My Blood Approves… all just sitting in my Amazon account. Story of my TBR… but we’re not talking about that today. We’re talking Ms. Hocking’s books! Specifically her newest release, Freeks.
Freeks is about humans with special abilities who joined together to form a traveling sideshow that works alongside a carnival they manage. Run by Gideon Davorin, he employs those people who don’t fit in with regular society and want to escape their lives to be with similar people who also don’t fit in anyplace. Gideon takes in runaways with extra-special abilities AND your typical sideshow freaks like the “bearded lady” or the “three-legged man”. They are all there.
The story is told from 18 yr old Mara’s point of view. She travels in the sideshow with her “fortune telling” mother doing odd jobs around the show because it appears Mara has no powers of her own. Mara doesn’t mind the life but someday she would love a home and bed to call her own.
Running low on money, Gideon receives a lead on a town for the carnival/sideshow. So, running on fumes, the convoy enters the town of Caudry, Louisiana and sets up their show. But as soon as they cross the town limits a few of them get bad vibes from the entire area. When sideshow workers start disappearing or turning up in, errr, not in the condition they were in before, that’s when things start to get scary.
And they could have been even more scarier if I wasn’t distracted by references to 80’s music and clothing. You see, the story is set in 1987 and for some reason, it just kept distracting me. Maybe because I was alive and 18 years old then, too? But for whatever reason, the references interrupted the flow of the story for me and the older setting just felt superfluous to the story, totally not needed. Just give me some blood and gore today and I’m good, thanks 🙂
I did LOVE all the different characters that Ms. Hocking wrote into the story. She managed a huge cast of characters without overwhelming the reader. I was able to keep track of everyone! A rare feat for me in normal circumstances but when you have 7-10 supporting characters that have great personalities and that are adding major dialogue to the story, my head starts to swing around my neck 360 degrees. That did NOT happen here.
One thing I could appreciate was that Mara’s character stayed consistent throughout the story. She started out streetwise and smart and stayed that way to the end. Mara thought through her actions and saw that what she did had ramifications on other people. You don’t see that often in young adult stories. Kind of refreshing.
There is one thing to be said about young adult and that is that the stories are usually simple. That’s definitely the case here. Nothing too confusing here. But there were some plot holes that I would have liked filled. Some characters were a bit easy to spot as the bad guy. Some characters were over the type stereotypical and were kind of too hokey for me. Eh, didn’t take away from the story for me, though. I still liked it overall!
Heads up, parents: there is sex in this book. I know, go figure. But just thought I’d mention it because it’s not a “fade to black” sex scene like most young adult sex scenes I’ve run across. It’s kind of… all there. Know what I mean? Yeah, you know what I mean. Hey, they’re over 18, of course it might happen. Just letting you know it’s here 🙂
I do have kind of a spoiler-ish complaint about the book packaging. In the ARC, there is some artwork in the inside title page that, UGH, gave a major surprise away for me. Or rather, maybe it wasn’t meant to be a surprise but I kind of wanted it to be. Heck, it’s on the cover art if you look carefully enough (don’t look!) I guess that’s up to the author to decide whether it’s a surprise or not but dang, that would have been a cool reveal for me.