BOOK REVIEW: The Girl Who Could See by Kara Swanson

All her life Fern has been told she is blind to reality—but what if she is the only one who can truly see?

Fern Johnson is crazy. At least, that’s what the doctors have claimed since her childhood. Now nineteen, and one step away from a psych ward, Fern struggles to survive in bustling Los Angeles. Desperate to appear “normal,” she represses the young man flickering at the edge of her awareness—a blond warrior only she can see.

Tristan was Fern’s childhood imaginary hero, saving her from monsters under her bed and outside her walls. As she grew up and his secret world continued to bleed into hers, however, it only caused catastrophe. But, when the city is rocked by the unexplainable, Fern is forced to consider the possibility that this young man isn’t a hallucination after all—and that the creature who decimated his world may be coming for hers.

We are going to pretend for just a moment that this book was not written by someone so young.  Why are we pretending?  Play along.  There is such a difference between a writer and an author.  But there is whole other level out there called a storyteller.  A storyteller has a gift, a talent, something that can't be learned but can definitely be skilled, that sets them apart by another degree.  Anyone can be a writer.  Very few writers are authors (and yes I make this distinction) as being an author requires a dedication and skill that sets them apart.  However, very few authors are storytellers, someone that no matter the education or the editing or the 'process' can make you believe and fall in love with what they have to share.  Kara Swanson is a storyteller.  Despite her young age she has a talent to tell stories that will only deepen and grow more vibrant with age, experience, and education.  And no matter if she never reaches further this is something that can't be taken away.  OK, back to reality folks, and I've got a bit to share.

I really and truly loved this novella.  The concept for the story line, the characters, the setting all of it.  However, sorry had to throw that in there, in reads like a pristinely perfect first draft.  A draft that has all the flaws and story elements lined out to perfection.  I wanted, no needed, more.  More conflict (the FBI is a great place to start), more detail on what was actually happening, more description on what Tristan has actually been dealing with, more action as the rift is actually closed, just more.  I feel like there is this amazing story that has the potential to be so much more.  It's like me and homemade Chex mix, I can't just eat a little bit but if I don't stop myself I'll eat the whole container (it's like my crypotnite).  I was happy and content with the serving I was given but it just didn't fill me up.

Swanson has a nature gift to tell this story and any other story that comes to her.  She has the ability to create believable worlds, endearing characters, and an edge that brings this sci-fi/fantasy world to life.  I am beyond thrilled that I chose to pick up this novella and cannot wait to find more opportunities to read her work as she grows as an author and storyteller throughout her hopefully long career.

I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by CelebrateLit.  I was not compensated for this review and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.  I was not required to write a positive review.

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The Girl Who Could See

About Kara Swanson
As the daughter of missionaries, Kara Swanson spent sixteen years of her young life in the jungles of Papua New Guinea. Able to relate with characters dropped suddenly into a unique new world, she quickly fell in love with the speculative genre and was soon penning stories herself. At seventeen, she independently published her debut fantasy novel, Pearl of Merlydia. Her short story is included in Kathy Ide’s 21 Days of Joy: Stories that Celebrate Mom. She has published many articles, including one in the Encounter magazine, and she received the Mount Hermon Most Promising Teen Writer award in 2015.

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  1. This is an intriguing description!

    1. It is absolutely amazing! So well written and just draws you in to the story.

  2. Love the way you described the need for more depth in the story. I tell my students it's like giving me celery and carrot sticks when I really want mashed potatoes and roast beef.

  3. I never had an imaginary hero or friends, for that matter. It'll be interesting to read about one.

  4. Thank you for your review! I appreciate your kind words about my writing style :)

    --Kara Swanson

  5. A definite must read to add to my reading list.