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Untethered - Katie Hayoz A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my review in any way.

To tell y'all honestly, I wasn't expecting much when I read the blurb; in my eyes, it looked like it was another paranormal story where it would center on the romance, which I believe, is a little bit too common nowadays. But color me surprised — this book was actually pretty good! I started reading around 11:30 in the evening, and didn't stop until the sun was already rising at 5:30 — all in one sitting. That was how engrossed I was. Heck, I'll even go ahead and say it now: this book is better than a lot of published ones I've read this year.

I think what really made this book special to me was how it was able to make the plot character-driven, but at the same time fast-paced and full of suspense. I've read a lot of books that have tried to make their books so, and while some of them succeeded and did it nicely, many others just fail in the execution alone, so I was pleasantly delighted that Katie Hayoz incorporated it here effortlessly and beautifully. Kudos to that!

Using a 1st person narrative, the author was able to give us a clear and deep picture of the thoughts of the main character, Sylvie — her fears, frustrations, and insecurities. Every time she was sad about her parents separating, I couldn't help but feel sad for her, too. Every time she felt unconfident of the way she looked whenever she compared herself to her beautiful best friend, Cassie, I couldn't help but want to reach out and comfort her. Every time she was being bullied in her school with hoots of "Psycho", I couldn't help but want to punch something - anything - as if it could somehow make her feel better. I know, it's a bit weird, but the book's effect on me was a big magical. I loved that even though Sylvie was quite the jealous, obsessed, angsty character, it didn't make me feel detached from her (because honestly, emo characters get on my nerves); it actually made me feel for her more. I sympathized with her. I placed myself in her shoes. She did some questionable things, said some harsh words, made half-hearted decisions, but I understood what she she was going through, and the character development that ensued afterwards - her acceptance, her realizing her self worth and the worth of the people around her - became more meaningful and fulfilling. One of the ending scenes was a bit bittersweet, and in some ways, realistic. Not everything has to end absolutely in a positive note given certain circumstances (and consequences), and we all need to realize that. Heck, not everything ends that way, period.

The plot that involved astral projection and out-of-body experiences was also quite original. That is, I actually haven't read something like this before, and I'm glad the first book I read that did have it, it was this, because I think Untethered did it splendidly. I really liked how this activity became very vital to Sylvie's life and to the story, how it became both a sanctuary and also a nightmare. I've actually been trying to experience this for a while now, but I think I'll have to take a few steps back. There are just some things in the world that are better left unknown. Do I believe in other planes and realms? Absolutely. Especially since I've had a lot of paranormal encounters myself (cups floating, waking up in the middle of the night to find a beheaded ghost beside me twitching in a reaaaally weird way...) so I do believe these kind of things are possible, and I'm glad there are authors out there writing PR stuff beyond vampires and werewolves.

All in all, I think this was an excellent read. I do believe Katie Hayoz is a promising writer, and I'll definitely read more from her in the future. There's a lot of character development, a lot of plot, a lot of drama and suspense that will keep you going to the last page. Final verdict: 4 stars