Title: Becoming (Daughters of Saraqael Trilogy #1)
Author: Raine Thomas
Publisher: Iambe Books
Pages: 250 paperback
My Rating: 4/5 stars
Source: I received a copy from the author in exchange of an honest and thoughtful review
Every three years, Amber Hopkins explodes. Okay, not a blown-to-smithereens explosion, but whatever it is always hurts like hell and leaves her life a shambles. She’s already worked her way through five foster placements, and she’s doing whatever she can to avoid getting blasted into a sixth.
As her eighteenth birthday approaches and she feels the strange and powerful energy building, disaster looms. When the inevitable explosion occurs, her life gets its biggest shakeup yet. She’ll not only learn how her fellow foster and best friend, Gabriel, really feels about her, but she’ll discover that she isn’t really without family.
To top it all off, she’ll finally find out why she’s having the power surges: she isn’t entirely human.
Amber must Become, transitioning to another plane of existence and risking the loss of the most important relationship she’s ever had. Her choice will impact the future of an entire race of beings, and will pit her against an enemy that will prey upon her doubt to try and take her very life.
Kind of makes the explosions now seem like a cakewalk.
Let me just start off by saying that you will want this book! It possesses everything I love and have come to expect from a good book: a strong MC, a unique plot that stays interesting throughout, and a sizzling romance that will melt your heart. Really, what’s not to like?
When the story first starts off, we meet Amber. You learn she is quiet, reserved, snarky, she has one heck of an attitude, she’s stubborn, but she also has a sweet side…down in there somewhere. Amber has faced a difficult life with having no real family, getting passed from foster home to foster home until she finally ended up with Mrs. B., and of course the fact that she occasionally bursts. Things are definitely not easy for Amber so you see why she tends to distance herself from others. I may not have had a whole lot in common with her but I still loved Amber from the very first page. This girl is a true fighter; she doesn’t back down when times get tough, she just keeps on fighting.
To make the story extra interesting and to create a few “oh la la” moments, we have Amber’s best friend Gabriel who happens to share a home and foster parent with her. Gabriel is undeniably gorgeous but we mustn’t forget how truly beautiful he is on the inside as well. I loved how confident, sweet, and genuine he was. Mrs. B. teaches him to be a perfect gentleman and that only adds to the natural charm this boy already has. Gabriel is a truly great friend to Amber, always nudging her along and trying to get her to come out of her shell. His fierce protectiveness over Amber and acceptance of her had me swooning before Amber even realized his true feelings. Even though all these qualities made me fall for Gabriel right off the bat, it was his loyalty towards Amber when things started going bad that made me truly love him.
The relationship between Gabriel and Amber is one all great authors should strive for in their own books. It isn’t perfect by any means, but these two just work so well together. Gabriel brings out this side of Amber, a brighter and happier side. I can only imagine her having that special glow that only love birds have whenever she is around Gabriel. Being friends first and then taking their relationship slow and one step at a time was actually really refreshing. It can become so boring to read of a romance that seems to form with just one glance.
So you may be a bit confused when see in the summary of the book that Amber explodes. It is hard to explain without containing a lot of spoilers but this power surges through Amber and it can be pretty creepy and dangerous all rolled into one. Since it has happened every 3 years since she can remember, Amber knows it is coming up. She feels this energy building up in her and she worries what will happen to her once the big “ka boom” moment actually happens. When it finally does happen, she is surprised to see that Gabriel stands by her side regardless of how strange this is. As you can probably guess, this made me love him even more <3 But more importantly it really added a sense of mystery to the middle of the story. I was desperate to know the answers as to why this kept happening to Amber.
A series of events lead Gabriel and Amber on an adventure in which we learn that Amber is not alone and not entirely human. It is also at this point that I got a little bit confused. We are introduced to some family members that Amber didn’t even know she had. I totally adore Olivia and Skye, we learn quite a bit about them in a short amount of time and they really added to the story with their little quirks. It was also great to see Amber interact with them. As I’ve mentioned she is usually pretty distant with people but when interacting with both girls, there is a different side of Amber that readers are introduced to, a much sweeter side.
Once we meet these two new characters, things only speed up and it is all action packed, information packed, and it was just a little too much for me to take in at once. Raine creates this alternate universe where magical beings live and it is just so complex, detailed, and unique. I found myself drinking in every detail about what Amber, Olivia, Skye, and even Gabriel were, their history, and the difficulties they would likely be facing in the future. The whole concept of Estilorians amazed me but it baffled me at the same time. While reading through it, I got lost on some of the smaller details of this fictional world but not enough to really take away from the story.
I know this review probably did not do this book justice. Raine created characters from different backgrounds and whose personalities are so vibrant and realistic that readers can’t help but love them. We watch as these very characters grow, change, and become more throughout the story while staying true to who they are. The magical world is one that captures your attention and the whole premise of the story is likely something you have not read about before. Things go from normal, to weird, to romantic, to even weirder really fast but it is one thrilling and magical adventure you will love reading about!