Sixteen-year-old genius Matty Ducayn has never fit in on The Hill, an ordered place seriously lacking a sense of humor. After his school’s headmaster expels him for a small act of mischief, Matty’s future looks grim until King Hadrian comes to his rescue with a challenge: answer a question for a master’s diploma.
More than a second chance, this means freedom. Masters can choose where they work, a rarity among Regents, and the question is simple.
What was January Black?
It’s a ship. Everyone knows that. Hadrian rejects that answer, though, and Matty becomes compelled by curiosity and pride to solve the puzzle. When his search for an answer turns up long-buried state secrets, Matty’s journey becomes a collision course with a deadly royal decree. He’s been set up to fail, which forces him to choose. Run for his life with the challenge lost … or call the king’s bluff.
*** WARNING ***
Review contains no spoilers or hints to the story whatsoever. It consists mainly of:
fan-girling, a loss for words, arm-flailing, and bowing to the awesomeness that is this book and its author.
Okay, I’m being a little dramatic.
To give credit due to January Black and Mrs. Russo, I will attempt to get a grip and write a coherent review. Here we go:
January Black is what great books are made of. Like life, it’s about the pursuit of happiness. Yours, mine, the world’s. It’s about succeeding, flourishing, and having the freedom to do so. To make your own choices, to make mistakes, learn from them and then correct them, is one of the greatest liberties. Suffering the consequences of those mistakes is the price, which is made more valuable, heavy, when you’re not the one who made the choice in the first place. Like life, the actions of one (or many) can affect a single life or more. They can hurt, but they can inspire too.
With her debut novel, Wendy Russo took what could be a trivial pursuit and unfolded it to be a GRAND one. The question is simple enough: What was January Black? Of course, I’m not telling you, but I must say I was astounded by the answer, by the essence and magnitude of it. While I had ideas, the delicate, complex unraveling kept me guessing until the reveal. But it was upon the very end that I was left breathless—and still am. When I picked up this novel, I wasn’t expecting such an intricate, profound storyline.
I didn’t expect such a rich world, full of original details, with its own unique hints of medieval, sci-fi, and fantasy elements—a world that was beautiful and otherworldly and that wasn’t so unlike ours, if we would only look or pay attention. I didn’t expect such relevancy of real-world issues, either.
Neither did I expect themes and love stories that moved me. I cried—and I mean the ugly, blubbering mess kind of cry from a deep, gut-wrenching ache, as well as misty eyes because of an explosion of warmth in my chest. I didn’t expect to fall in love with all the characters, each so different, refreshing, and strong, and definitely not as fast as I did.
That’s not to say I read books without those expectations that are more like hopes. Every time I pick up a book, I’m hoping for the best, to find it. I want to be wowed. I’m begging to be.
And I was with January Black.
This little journey of a book had me falling so fast and hard for it, over and over again. I didn’t want it to end. It’s been a couple weeks and I’m still going through withdrawals. There is no other fictional man for me other than Hadrian. If I could bestow the universe upon one couple, it would be Matty and Iris. If I could write a YA novel that could be enjoyed by teens and adults alike, I’d hope it would be as all-encompassing and well written as this one.
Don’t make the mistake of missing out on one amazing story. Read January Black.
eBook provided by Wendy Russo. Thank you!
Favorite lines (out of many):
“The world is a different place when you fall in love … when you have something to lose.”****“There are two types of liberty. One is having means and opportunity to do what you want, and the other is an absence of obstacles that would prevent you from doing what you want.”****“The blessing and curse of creation is that a work, be it art, or writing, or software, is only truly finished when it has elicited some sort of emotion from someone.”****“Old books are like people … They are more than the sums of words within. They have unique histories and personalities that change with time. Each one has a spirit that attracts its kindred souls within its readers.”****A man who would convert his freedom to currency deserves nothing he can buy with it.
“Refreshingly intelligent and loads of fun! I lost a few hours as I read this book. It’s a Young Adult novel that is refreshingly and astonishingly intelligent, and the love story is perfectly played out.”
— Christine Ashworth, Amazon Reviewer
“The mystery was intriguing – I loved how Wendy Russo weaved in all her secrets throughout the book, how she incorporated just enough to keep you reading, while never actually divulging much of anything. I was guessing for most of it and that’s pretty hard to make me do.”
— Julie, Clean Teen Reads
“Wendy Russo has created a masterpiece.”
— Ivan Amberlake, Author of The Beholder
Wendy S. Russo
Her Website | Twitter | Facebook | GoodreadsWendy S. Russo got her start writing in the sixth grade. That story involved a talisman with crystals that had to be found and assembled before bad things happened, and dialog that read like classroom roll call. Since then, she’s majored in journalism (for one semester), published poetry, taken a course on short novels, and watched most everything ever filmed by Quentin Tarantino. A Wyoming native transplanted in Baton Rouge, Wendy works for Louisiana State University as an IT analyst. She’s a wife, a mom, a Tiger, a Who Dat, and she falls asleep on her couch at 8:30 on weeknights.
$25 Amazon gift card or PayPal Cash
Terms & Conditions:♥ Giveaway ends May 8th, 2013.
♥ Open only to those who can legally enter, receive, and use an Amazon.com gift code or PayPal Cash. Winning entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary.
♥ You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.
♥ This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter, or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning.
♥ Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.
To encourage readers to pick up January Black and help reach a goal of 100 Amazon reviews, Wendy Russo is offering a hardcover set of The Infernal Devices signed by Cassandra Clare. The giveaway will begin when the 100th review is posted. For more information, visit:
January Black 100th Amazon Review Giveaway page