Brandon's summer is a bummer, but it brightens up when he meets the new girl in town, Marvel. His buddy wrecked his truck and his Dad beats on him from time to time. Brandon has steady work mowing lawns and working at the record store. He has steady friends, with whom he hangs out and on whom he can rely. Marvel makes him a little unsteady, offering friendship but not the romance Brandon seeks.
Travis Thrasher's novel Marvelous follows Brandon through a summer of falling in love with the mysterious Marvel, hearing about some mysterious murders that take place too close to home, and dealing with a father who drinks too much and shows little restraint in dealing with Brandon.
Marvel started out with such promise, as Thrasher captures Brandon's teenage perspective and builds tension in the community, Brandon's family, and the mystery of Marvel. But we get build up with no resolution. I know there's a second book out there. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think even a book in a series should have some stand-alone resolution. There's a difference between a cliff-hanger ending and leaving the story completely open-ended in the middle of the telling. Loose ends are one thing, but Thrasher leaves pretty much all the ends loose.
Thrasher is a skilled writer. Marvelous is full of likable characters and a strong teenage world. In the background is Marvel's faith and Brandon's struggling with his own faith. Even with all the positive elements, the quality of the writing and the engaging style, Marvelous left me with a sour taste in my mouth because of the lack of resolution. Consider yourself warned: if you start reading Marvelous and like it, go ahead and buy the sequel. Otherwise you'll be sadly disappointed. (Full disclosure: I haven't read the sequel. I don't know that I will. I don't know that Thrasher made me care enough to find out how it all comes together. Or if it does.)
Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!
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