Here's the summary from Goodreads: High school senior Whitnee has spent six years rebuilding her identity after her father's mysterious disappearance left her with more questions than answers. With her two best friends, Morgan and Caleb, she returns as a mentor to the summer camp of her childhood. Nestled in the Texas hill country, Camp Fusion is everything Whitnee remembers—except for the haunting visions that only she can see. One fateful night, Whitnee and her friends embark on a magical voyage where unexpected adventure and heart-stopping romance collide—a journey that might unlock the dark, complicated mysteries of Whitnee's family history. But will she find the answers she is looking for?
What I Liked: 1) The characters. The main characters of Whitnee, Morgan, and Caleb are all well-rounded and unique characters with fully explored histories. The first thing that strikes me about Miz Dallas's writing is how real her characters become. They don't just come into being when you open the first page, they are living, breathing people with histories, quirks, personalities, and lives. It doesn't take long to start to view them as your friends, rather than characters in a book. 2) Camp Fusion. The story begins at Camp Fusion, a camp for adolescents who are struggling to deal with life-changing events with the help of their mentors. Whitnee, Morgan and Caleb met at the camp years before as campers and have now returned as mentors. The big sister in me is just raw when I read about the struggles the campers are dealing with, but at the same time I recognize the necessity of it all. A reminder that life isn't always roses, it certainly adds a level of reality to the story. 3) Humor. It's clear that Miz Dallas's sense of humor and mine are similar, because I lolled throughout the book. It's really a great mixture of the serious and the humorous. 4) The introduction of new characters. Towards the middle of the book, once you've gotten used to the relationships of Whitnee, Caleb, Morgan, Amelia, and Kevin, we're thrown another character who seems to throw everyone off balance for a while. More than a while, actually, everyone seems to be wary of him for the rest of the book. He has a mysterious quality about him that makes him very appealing to me. And Whitnee. Heh. Plus, he's a hot island boy. Who doesn't like that? 5) The Island. Referred to as Phantom Island, or the White Island. Bear with me, because I am going to have a hard time explaining what it is I like about this setting so much. My initial thought upon arriving there (a good, 150 pages into the book) is that it's like coming home. I don't live on an island, or any kind of tropical setting, but there is something about this place that Miz Dallas has created that is comforting and exciting all at the same time. There are different parts of the Island, and though we only get to explore one part of it (well, two, if you count the beach) in this book, I'm looking forward to more exploring in the rest of the series. In all honesty, if I could choose any setting from any book I've ever read, to live in, I'd want to live on the White Island. Or, I'd want to be from the White Island, and have their life source gifts. Which leads me into my next like...6) The tribes. On the Island, the people live in one of four tribes, the Aerodorians (Wind), the Geodorians (Earth), the Pyradorians (Fire) and the Hydrodorians (Water). There are many intricate details that go into these tribes, who they are, what they can do, etc. but I don't want to reveal anymore about them until you've read the book. I will tell you that I've taken Miz Dallas's test to see which tribe I belong to, and I'm a Pyra. The details really make the story great. 7) The balance between reality and fantasy. As an avid reader, I think I spend a great deal of my life balancing it somewhere between reality (work, bills, etc.) and fantasy (pretty much any book I read). Windchaser emulates that balance that I think a lot of people seek out in their lives.
What I Didn't Like: Nothing. Well, okay, this isn't really a dislike, more of a disclaimer. This book demands your focus. As I said, there are a lot of details, and a lot of things going on. One of Miz Dallas's many talents as an author is that she manages to keep things from spiraling out of control, but maintain a fastpaced story. Make sure that when you sit down to read it, you are committing to it. It's not a multi-tasking read.
Overall thoughts: Windchaser is one of my favorite books of the year. I'd live on the White Island if I could, and would definitely want to be friends with Whitnee and her companions. You know those books that you are sad when they're over? That's Windchaser for me. I didn't want to leave the Island, and I didn't want to leave my friends. Between the awesome setting and the oh-so-real characters, Windchaser is the perfect balance of reality and fantasy mixed together to form a creative and unique story that will delight many readers! Make sure you add it to your TBR list, and watch for my review of Phantom Island book 2, Windfall!
My rating: 5 shots
And to make the release next week even more fun, stop by next week because I will be hosting a giveaway of a signed copy of both Windchaser and Windfall! This contest will be Twitter-centric, so if you aren't following @FuzzyCoffeeBks on twitter, make sure you do! Cheers and happy reading!