Vibes by Amy Kathleen Ryan
Release date: December 30, 2009 (paperback)
Other books by this author: Zen and Xander Undone
Nothing is beyond Kristi Carmichael's disdain—her hippie high school, her friend Jacob, her workaholic mom. Yet for all her attitude and her mind-reading abilities, Kristi has a vulnerable side. She can hear the thoughts of her fellow students, calling her fat and gross. She's hot for Gusty Peterson, one of the most popular guys in school, but of course, she's sure he thinks she is disgusting. And she's still mad at her father, who walked out on them two years ago. Soon, a school project brings her together with Gusty, her father comes home and drops a bombshell, and a friend comes out of the closet, and suddenly she is left doubting that she can read people at all. Bitingly funny but ultimately poignant and positive, this YA novel is completely on the mark.
Vibes has been on my TBR shelf for quite a few months, it just never fully grabbed my attention and yelled "read me!". Luckily, yesterday, I was looking for something different to read and I picked up Vibes. It was definitely worth reading!
When I first began Vibes I was wary. Kristi seemed like a character I wouldn't like, but luckily, the more I read, the more I liked her. She was dealing with a lot. Her best friend has dumped her for the popular crowd, her mother was a work-a-holic, and her father had disappeared two years ago. On top of all that, she's caught in a love triangle and can read minds. This sounds like a confusing plot, but Ryan really ties it all together and keeps it smooth and organized. The reader always knows what is going on and I really liked how the mind reading aspect played out.
I couldn't really connect with Kristi as I've never had any of her experiences, but Ryan made her life believable and I felt for her. I also liked how Ryan made Kristi overweight and a little unsure of herself. It definitely made Kristi more real. Kristi wasn't the only great character. I liked her Mom a lot and enjoyed seeing their relationship grow and change for the better. Jacob, her best friend, was a unique character. At first I thought he was kind of creepy, but the ending explains a lot and he really is a good friend to Kristi. Her Aunt Ann was nice and of course I loved her cat Minnie Mouse. For some reason, pets make books that much better :)
Onto the love interests. There's Mallory, the acne-plagued new kid, who is in love with Kristi. He is a sweet guy, but Kristi's heart truly lies with uber-popular Gusty. I was nervous at first that this would be the typical girl falls for popular guy, blah, blah, blah kind of read. Luckily, Gusty was a terrific person and great to Kristi. Their background definitely made things more understandable.
Overall, the plot of Vibes was great. Kristi learned a lot about who she really was, and about the people around her. By the end of the book she'd matured a lot, made new friends and changed things for the better with her family. This was a solid, well written debut and I can't wait to pick up my ARC of Amy Kathleen Ryan's sophomore novel, Zen and Xander Undone!
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars