Alana is the new girl in school. She doesn’t exactly fit in, but she’s intelligent and talented enough with spells she unexpectedly gains ‘friends’ and entangles herself with more than she hoped for.
Alana Weatherbee felt promising. It had a smart young female witch as its lead. However, the greatest obstacle that books on wizards (and maybe even vampires) have is the unavoidable comparison against the phenomenon that is Harry Potter (and in the case of vampires Twilight). Hence, the challenge for writers coming after this phenomenon is to take on a new twist into the literature or invest in building the character and plotline. While I tried to keep my mind open to Alana Weatherbee, the similarities were undeniable. One of the greatest obstacles I had to deal with while reading Weatherbee is going past the similarities to Harry Potter in terms of structure and events whether it’s in the headmaster, the school, the idea of a school game and even the secret door Alana found.
Alana as a character felt familiar and likeable, however the novel required, I felt, more than 18 short chapters. I felt the story rushed. We were jumping from Alana without friends, to Alana fighting with Wyatt and the Gang, then Wyatt being nice to Alana (and even showing signs of interest), and then comes Logan. The first half of the book felt like one story and the other half another story. The novel has more potential for character expansion for slower development. The character’s motivations were unclear. Also, I felt we lost Alana amidst the things that were happening to her, I felt introducing Logan and their blossoming relationship was too soon. I would have saved it for book two. I wanted more Alana. I wanted to know more about how she tried to fit in, and how she figured herself within the School of Shines. By Chapter 18, I didn’t feel like I was invested on any of the characters, not even the protagonist. This leads me to my biggest quibble—characterization—I felt there was a lot of potential in this area. I wanted to have felt, after chapter 18, that I was curious about Alana and how she dealt with things. Unfortunately, all I had were events that showed nothing of any of the characters’ inner motivations. I felt Alana could be likeable if she was given the opportunity to stand out before the teenage romance dynamics was introduced (whether it was with Wyatt or Logan).
Alana Weatherbee’s strong points are in areas of potential. For instance the game, Sorenson dubs Labyrinth, is an interesting game. I would have dedicated a long chapter on this. I felt much adventure and growth for the characters could have been exploited in this game. I love that its this game that could go on for days and that it was life endangering. There was a lot to work with when it comes to this material. Alana talking to ghosts is again an interesting element that could have been expounded on. I love the idea of a feisty intelligent female lead, but I wanted her to be more and there is more to her. The ending (though I believe the second part should be book 2) was a good cliffhanger for the next book. I also like that the werewolves names are Logan and Lucien for the simple reason that the names are a nod to Wolverine (in x-men) and Lucien (from underworld). There are still some spaces that I felt could be filled with more potential and more development. There were stories that could be explored, characters that could be brought to surface more. I wanted the characters to be human, more rounded in their reactions and dialogue.
The book I felt is for a younger audience in its brevity and simplicity, however the romantic parts push this towards a teenage audience. This book isn’t really up my alley. While I read Harry Potter, I am not one to read Twilight (and its relatives) as I’ve pointed out in this review. So, one may take this review with that grain of salt. While it may not be my usual staple when it comes to books, I am aware that there must be a few others who might enjoy this genre.
Alana Weatherbee is an ebook available for download here. The author Jack Sorenson, is a prolific author and recently released the second installment to Alana Weatherbee. Our copy of Alana Weatherbee was courtesy of the author. We thank the author for being patient as this review was delayed.