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Unblemished
Cover of Unblemished
Unblemished
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"Sara Ella's debut novel is a stunning journey into a fascinating new world of reflections. Intricately plotted, the story is complex, but not difficult to follow. Eliyana is a strong heroine, yet also...
"Sara Ella's debut novel is a stunning journey into a fascinating new world of reflections. Intricately plotted, the story is complex, but not difficult to follow. Eliyana is a strong heroine, yet also...
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  • "Sara Ella's debut novel is a stunning journey into a fascinating new world of reflections. Intricately plotted, the story is complex, but not difficult to follow. Eliyana is a strong heroine, yet also has a vulnerable side that readers will definitely identify with. The other characters are also well-developed and have many hidden secrets revealed throughout the course of the tale. Good vs. evil is the overarching theme, and it's easy to draw parallels with faith. The book is set up for further installments, and it will be fascinating to see where the author takes the characters next." —RT Book Reviews, 4 1/2 stars, TOP PIC

    Eliyana can't bear to look at her own reflection. But what if that were only one Reflection—one world? What if another world exists where her blemish could become her strength?

    Eliyana is used to the shadows. With a birthmark covering half her face, she just hopes to graduate high school unscathed. That is, until Joshua hops a fence and changes her perspective. No one, aside from her mother, has ever treated her like he does: normal. Maybe even beautiful. Because of Joshua, Eliyana finally begins to believe she could be loved.

    But one night her mother doesn't come home, and that's when everything gets weird. Now Joshua is her new, and rather reluctant, legal Guardian. Add a hooded stalker and a Central Park battle to the mix and you've gone from weird to otherworldly.

    Eliyana soon finds herself in a world much larger and more complicated than she's ever known. A world enslaved by a powerful and vile man. And Eliyana holds the answer to defeating him. How can an ordinary girl, a blemished girl, become a savior when she can't even save herself?

 

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Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    November 14, 2016
    A high school coming-of-age tale combining dystopian magical realism, a winsome romance, and a good-versus-evil messiah plot, Ella’s debut novel is an ambitiously intricate mashup of genres that never quite comes together. Eliyana Ember, a senior at the prestigious West Prep in New York City, has always been self-conscious of the birthmark on her cheek. Just weeks before her eighteenth birthday, Eliyana is left as the legal responsibility of her twenty-one-year-old next-door neighbor, Joshua, when her artist mom suddenly dies in a fire. When she makes the mistake of going to a party to combat her grief, Eliyana is kidnapped by Ky, a young man with a strange power over her, and transported to the Second Reflection—a parallel world existing within New York that seems familiar to Eliyana from her mother’s paintings. The novel struggles to find its footing amidst the many forces at play: building the world of the Second Reflection, introducing the broad cast of characters, weaving together the many plot points, and keeping the romantic tensions lively. The bookis at its best in the quiet moments between battles and explanations, when Eliyana can draw herself out, stop hiding her birthmark, and become proud of what her unique feature could mean. Although her promisingly ambitious debut struggles to maintain a clear focus, Ella has created a captivating, relatable protagonist and never hesitates as she keeps thingsmoving briskly through the many twists and turns.

  • Library Journal

    Starred review from November 1, 2016

    A disfiguring facial birthmark has been the source of endless taunting for Eliyana, who hopes to survive high school unscathed. With the exception of her mother, no one treats Eliyana with kindness. Until Joshua. For the three years they have been friends, Eliyana has hoped for more. But then her mother disappears and Joshua becomes her legal guardian and takes Eliyana to an alternate New York City where nothing matters except breaking free from a powerful demon of a man and the horror of the world he has enslaved. Eliyana is an unwitting heroine who finds the internal strength to go beyond her disfigurement and selflessly give of herself in order to save someone else. VERDICT With plenty of YA crossover appeal, this engaging and suspenseful debut urban fantasy features superb worldbuilding and a tightly paced story line. Reading groups will find plenty to discuss concerning self-image, the nature of good vs. evil, and the power of the marginalized to change the world. Suggest to fans of Tosca Lee's Demon or Ted Dekker's Eyes Wide Open.

    Copyright 2016 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • School Library Journal

    August 1, 2017

    Gr 8 Up-The first two books of a planned trilogy introduce readers to a fantasy world with glimpses of the familiar all around them. Unblemished finds 17-year-old Eliyana mourning the loss of her mother and somewhat secretly in love with the guy next door. All that changes when she discovers that her entire life has been built on half-truths and she is forcibly returned to the Second Reflection, a world that resembles, but isn't quite, the New York City she knows and loves. In the Second Reflection, Eliyana discovers the birthmark across her face designates her as an important piece in the battle between good (the Verity) and evil (the Void). Unraveling picks up immediately after the first book and focuses on the love triangle between Eliyana, Joshua, and Kyaphus that began in book one. There is much to like in the start of this series-the adventure, the idea of multiple worlds and various powers (Callings) that the inhabitants have-but the world-building is at times overly complex. Rather than explaining the Verity, the Void, and other magical elements within the context of the story, the characters often stop all action and spell things out, which breaks any flow the author has built. Pop culture references are liberally sprinkled throughout both volumes and already feel dated (Shania Twain, Titanic, Phantom of the Opera), particularly in Unraveling. VERDICT Purchase only where readers clamor for world-bending, Christian fiction, and love triangles; otherwise, skip it.-Heather Webb, Worthington Libraries, OH

    Copyright 2017 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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