Review: Wind Catcher by Jeff and Erynn Altabef

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*I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

Title: Wind Catcher ( A Chosen Novel – 1)

Authors: Jeff Altabef and Erynn Altabef

Publisher: Evolved Publishing, LLC

Publication Date: March 2015

ISBN: 9781622533145

Wind Catcher: A Chosen Novel

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Juliet Wildfire Stone hears voices and sees visions, but she can’t make out what they mean. Her eccentric grandfather tells her stories about the Great Wind Spirit and Coyote, but he might as well be speaking another language. None of it makes any sense. When she stumbles upon a series of murders she can’t help but worry her grandfather might be involved. To discover the truth, Juliet must choose between her new life at an elite private school and her Native American heritage. Once she uncovers an ancient secret society formed over two hundred years ago to keep her safe, she starts to wonder whether there’s some truth to those old stories her grandfather has been telling her.  All she wants is to be an average sixteen-year-old girl, but she has never been average—could never be average. Betrayed by those she loves, she must decide whether to run or risk everything by fulfilling her destiny as the Chosen.
_____

I tried to like Wind Catcher. I really did. I got about 30% of the way through and nearly gave up, but I pushed myself, hoping this book–the story, the characters–would redeem themselves in some way. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. I should have stopped reading at the beginning. Giving a bad review is never easy. I know a lot of work goes into writing and publishing a book. But there are just some stories that either need tons of tender loving care, or are better of in the scrap pile. I’ve studied Native Canadian Literature, including Y.A. titles, and it’s a genre filled with rich stories threaded with incredible history. Monkey Beach for instance, a story by Eden Robinson, is an incredibly weaved coming of age story, infused with Native Canadian history and culture, and written by a talented storyteller. When you compare these two books, Wind Catcher reads as a well-written fanfiction, but doesn’t even compare.

Native American literature is something that I’ll pick up in a heart beat. The description for this book sounds fantastic, a teen girl uncovering a centuries old secret while reconnecting with her Native American heritage, fulfilling her destiny as the foretold Seeker Slayer, and learning more about the people and place that she came from.  Y.A. needs to see more Native American/Canadian writers and stories.

However for me, Juliet falls victim to believing in and perpetuating stereotypes, to all-encompassing teenage angst, to relying on lies and construct rather than simplifying everything by telling the truth (ergo creating even MORE problems for herself), and to ignorance, whether intentional or not. She is a mix of negative traits: impulsive, aggressive, short sighted, little regard for her safety, judgemental even though she herself is often judged by others. There’s really little to like about her. Her family is hardly any better. What drove me mental was that if someone had just said something to Juliet about her skills from the start, NONE OF THIS WOULD HAVE HAPPENED! I hate stories that create unreasonable, unmotivated conflict at the start so that the story unfolds in a particular way. It’s so staged, and it’s so obvious when it’s being done. The cause and effect should seem natural, not unrealistic and set up. For example: If Juliet had been honest about what she was experiencing, and Sicheii had simply told her what she was (NO SECRETS), than the story could have been even better. It would have been strong, the characters would have clearly identified motivations for their actions, and the flow would be smooth. It would make sense. Juliet would have motivation to work towards an end goal, aka bettering herself for the sake of the common good, saving the world and all of humanity, etc., etc. There could still have been an intense climax, but the story and the characters would have that oh so necessary motivation needed to drive the story.

Additionally, the story was cluttered with so many unreasonable side stories. We get introduced to Juliet’s father who, for particular reasons, is absent from most of the story. He returns in the second half of the book, but again, there’s NO REASON for it. He’s there for some sort of personal resolution with Juliet, but it in no way betters or furthers the story. One question that all authors need to ask about their stories, ALWAYS: Does this plot element/character/symbol/etc. further the plot and is it absolutely essential to the main story? No? GET RID OF IT! Stories need focus. I felt like I was in a whirlwind Tornado of a story with Wind Catcher. Too many unnecessary plot points and characters.

I cannot recommend this story. I really, really didn’t like it.

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