Grey (The Romany Outcasts Series, Book 1)
by Christi J. Whitney
Release Date: April 30th 2015
2015 Harper Voyager
Ebook Edition; 400 Pages
Genre: Fiction / Young Adult / Fantasy
Source: Review copy from Pump Up Your Book
4.5 / 5 Stars
Sebastian Grey always
thought he was a fairly normal teenager – good friends, decent grades,
and a pretty sweet job in his foster brother’s tattoo shop.
when strangers arrive in town, Sebastian soon realizes that his world is
nothing at all what it seemed. Secretive gypsies surround him, shadowy
figures stalk him, and the girl he’s been dreaming about turns up at
Now Sebastian must protect this girl at all costs, even if it means he will never be normal again.
Grey is the first book in the Romany Outcasts Series, and I was pleasantly surprised by the atmosphere and setting that was created. So many YA novels focus on love at first sight scenarios, vampires, and other cliched settings, almost to the point where I have been avoiding that aisle in the bookstore, so I was a bit leery about starting this one. However, I rather enjoyed the complexities of these characters, and the very different problems that arose for Sebastian, the main character, as it was just so different from the mainstream situations that abound in the young adult genre.
One of the biggest things I liked in this novel was the fact that I had no idea what was happening to Sebastian until probably halfway through the novel. As he began changing, and things started happening to him, I was left guessing as to the reason; honestly, I had no idea what the ultimate answer would be and I was quite surprised and rather intrigued. He was such a sympathetic character and I really had a lot of empathy for him as he struggled to maintain a normal life at school while struggling to deal with physical and emotional changes for which he was not prepared. I especially liked that his friends stood by him as he was dealing with stuff, and didn't ostracize him or really reprimand him for his behaviour. As a reader, I am still struggling to understand some of Sebastian's stronger emotions, in particular those for Josephine, but I think it's because so much has not yet been revealed and I don't yet know a lot of what is going on. Such is the fate of being the first book in a planned trilogy. (And notice that I didn't reveal anything about Sebastian's changes as I don't want to spoil it for you.)
Another thing I really liked was Sebastian's relationship with his brother Hugo (not sure if this is a bit of a pun based on a certain author, but I amused myself thinking that way (and Esmeralda, too).) Sebastian thought he had such a good relationship with Hugo and the other guys at the tattoo shop, but things started changing rather quickly when he started going through his physical changes, and learned his 'brother' was keeping some pretty serious secrets from him. I really liked the struggle that Hugo went through to protect Sebastian, and also keep his leadership position intact; it must have been quite difficult for him. There were a lot of conflicts around duty and obligation, but I really liked that the concept of family and trust won out in the end; it certainly gave the novel a deeper layer than I was expecting.
Grey was a refreshing fantasy novel that will appeal to anyone looking for slightly different in the young adult genre. It does have its cliched moments of course, but for the most part I thought the writing was engaging, and I really liked the character development, particularly that of Hugo and Sebastian. While this book wrapped up quite neatly, there are many secrets that have not yet been revealed and I am quite curious as to what will happen to Sebastian next, when book two, Shadows, is published next year.