What makes a novel good? The truth is, I don’t know. Obviously, an interesting storyline and great characters are part of it. But why do we like some books over others? Especially these days, when many young adult novels can be a little bit same same.
Well, in some respects, Sarah Alderson’s novel, Hunting Lila, fits into that same same category. Lila’s mother has been murdered and she’s living in London with her grieving father, as far away as possible from her beloved brother Jack and his best friend Alex – who Lila has been in love with since she was little. Lila also has the ability to move things with her mind, something she keeps under wraps until she is mugged, escapes London and lands back in Southern California with Jack and Alex. Jack and Alex are part of a secretive special ops force on the hunt for Lila’s mother’s killer – who just happens to ‘gifted’, just like Lila.
This is not the most unique narrative I’ve ever read, but it works really well. Alderson has a talent for keeping readers in suspense without annoying them, and she is equally adept at teasing out a love story. Mostly, I find love stories in teen novels a bit mushy, but I really liked the romantic tension between Lila and Alex. This book sits astride the YA/Adult divide; it’s adult in content but quite an easy read. Think Da Vinci Code, X-Men, John Grisham and you’ve got an idea of what Hunting Lila is all about.
There is a sequel (called Losing Lila – catchy!) but this would work as a standalone novel if you can’t be bothered wading through yet another series. I highly recommend Hunting Lila as a great novel in which you can escape to a world of excitement and suspense.