BANISHED is making the rounds of the young adult fiction reviewers, picking up some lovely accolades. Here's a couple of recent reviews:
From School Library Journal:
Gr 9 Up–Sixteen-year-old Hailey Tarbell lives with her negligent grandmother and foster brother, Chub, in a decrepit corner of Gypsum, MO. She tolerates Gram’s drug dealing and their outcast status, biding her time until she can start a new life with Chub. When a classmate almost dies in a gym class accident, Hailey discovers that she possesses a healing power. She uses this gift to revive her dog, Rascal, after a truck crushes him, but he doesn’t seem normal after being brought back to life. Then long-lost Aunt Prairie arrives in town, along with two mysterious men who trail Hailey everywhere she goes. Following a violent shoot-out and car chase, Prairie escapes with Hailey and Chub and takes them to Chicago, where they join forces with another Healer and her son. Prairie reveals that the Tarbells are part of an ancient Irish clan of “Banished” people. Healing is one of their gifts, though they are forbidden from resurrecting someone who has already died, which explains the trouble with Rascal. Hailey also learns that her aunt’s ex-boyfriend is a nefarious medical researcher who wants to use Hailey’s skill to raise a mercenary army of zombies. The action builds to a nail-biting climax at the research laboratory where Hailey tangles, quite gruesomely, with a room full of zombies. The mythology of the Banished is somewhat underdeveloped, but it may be better explained in the inevitable sequel. With plenty of action, family drama, and the promise of romance, this novel is seriously entertaining.–Amy Pickett, Ridley High School, Folsom, PA
From VOYA, the magazine for librarians serving young adults:
No sensible young girl wants to stay in Gypsum, Missouir, especially the down-at-the-heels neighborhood the rich kids call Trashtown. Sixteen-year-old Hailey Tarbell plans escape when she turns eighteen, leaving behind the poverty-stricken town and her vicious, drug-dealing grandmother. The only things she will take with her into her new life are her four-year-old foster brother, Chub, and her mongrel dog, Rascal. Hailey's life is altered completely when one of her classmates is hurt in gym and she is able to heal the girl's life-threatening injuries. As Hailey, bewildered by her sudden powers, frantically attempts to keep her life on track, a glamorous and enigmatic woman appears at the door declaring herself to be her aunt Prairie, sister of Hailey's long-dead mother. Prairie provides Hailey with details of her own life and career but is clearly holding back certain key details. Most importantly, why is Prairie hiding from her former employer and why does she evade questions about their shared project?
Prairie's appearance plunges Hailey, Chub and Rascal into a breakneck adventure, running from both Prairie's creepy boss and the sadistic residents of Trashtown who want Hailey for their own disturbing reasons. Award-winning author Littlefield offers teen readers an enthralling and sometimes gory mix of brutal gunmen, high-speed car chases, horrifying zombie armies, long-buried secrets, and a sturdy, resilient narrator with an awesome and occasionally terrifying power. A cliff-hanger climax promises spellbound readers a whole gripping series of Hailey's future exploits. - Jamie Hansen