January Black Sixteen-year-old genius Matty Ducayn has never fit in on The Hill, an ordered place seriously lacking a sense of humor. After his school’s headmaster expels him for a small act of mischief, Matty’s future looks grim until King Hadrian comes to his rescue with a challenge: answer a question for a master’s diploma. More than a second chance, this means freedom. Masters can choose where they work, a rarity among Regents, and the question is simple. What was January Black? It’s a ship. Everyone knows that. Hadrian rejects that answer, though, and Matty becomes compelled by curiosity and pride to solve the puzzle. When his search for an answer turns up long-buried state secrets, Matty’s journey becomes a collision course with a deadly royal decree. He’s been set up to fail, which forces him to choose. Run for his life with the challenge lost…or call the king’s bluff.
To sum this book up in one word is probably impossible. To sum it up in a few: one of the best books I’ve read this year!
Matty Ducayn is a troublemaker who has been expelled from school. King Hadrian Steer is well aware of Matty’s tendency to defy authority and gives him an offer the inquisitive brilliant Matty can’t refuse. Now given access to the King’s library, Matty goes on the adventure of a lifetime in search of what the mysterious January Black was. Along the way, he meets the girl of his dreams. Together, Matty and Iris are determined to do whatever necessary to answer the King’s question. Filled with twists and turns the whole way, JANUARY BLACK is the perfect book for anyone who loves trying to figure out a centuries old mystery and can’t set the book down until they do–I’m guilty!
I absolutely loved this book. I read over 50% of it on one sitting. I would’ve been able to finish it in a day if it hadn’t been for life reminding me of my responsibilities. I loved how Russo had me guessing THE WHOLE ENTIRE TIME. I was right there with Matty, trying to figure out what January Black was, and all the other unanswered questions that came about during his research. I love solving puzzles and this book was a giant one. Russo knew exactly how to keep the reader’s interest. It seemed like every time I thought I had figured it out, Matty found something else incriminating that had me second guessing myself. In fact, I did a lot of that. All the characters Matty encountered over the course of two years had me going back and forth, debating whether they were good or evil. If they tipped Matty off on what to look up next, I was convinced they were doing it with an ulterior motive. They would then do something else that made me think they were doing these things for a good reason. I think this was one of Russo’s strengths. She gave you little details here and there that made you question everything. Only towards the end did you really find out the answers. She gave us, and Matty, so many little clues throughout that I didn’t even think to pay attention to. As the whole kingdom started to unravel, I found myself flipping back to a certain scene and saying “HOW DID I MISS THIS?! IT MAKES SO MUCH SENSE NOW!” This novel is like an amazing, make-you-think movie where you just have to watch it again to see everything you missed. JANUARY BLACK is just that: a novel you’ll be dying to read again. As soon as I finished, I wanted to start it all over again. I know there are so many clues I could’ve picked up on but didn’t.
I loved Iris and Matty’s relationship. They are both teenagers, finding love for the first time. Matty is a typical boy who can’t seem to pick up on subtle hints Iris gives to him. He likes her, she jokingly called him a stalker, he freaked out and didn’t see her again for days. I just wanted to shake his shoulders and say “she likes you dummy!” Some may say that their relationship evolved too quickly, but I disagree. They were discovering the real world they lived in, together. Iris opened Matty’s eyes to what really goes on in Columbia, outside of The Hill. They then start trying to solve the King’s puzzle which brings them even closer. All of this drew them together, making them fall head over heels. They love, they bicker, they disagree but that’s what makes their relationship so real. Matty has to learn that sometimes you must sacrifice things for the ones you love.
The technology that Hadrian has is crazy, to put simply. It’s so complex but the way Russo describes it it seems so easy. If you aren’t into technology driven stories, don’t worry. The few pieces of technology mentioned are very neat and are completely crucial to the story. This novel is more about discovery. Discovery of love, discovery of history, discovery of what is missing from history, discovery of trust, discovery of knowledge, and one huge discovery that’ll completely throw you for a loop. You’ll have to wait towards the end of the story for that one though 😉 It’s also about defying the rules and making sacrifices if it means it’s for the better good. This is a beautifully written story that will have readers up all night, dying to figure out all the questions that are raised. Russo doesn’t deal her cards all at once; trust me when I say you’ll want to stick around until the very end!
I received an ebook copy of JANUARY BLACK as part of the blog tour in exchange for an honest review.
Overall Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)
Praise Refreshingly intelligent and loads of fun! I lost a few hours as I read this book. It’s a Young Adult novel that is refreshingly and astonishingly intelligent, and the love story is perfectly played out. ~Christine Ashworth, Amazon Review The mystery was intriguing – I loved how Wendy Russo weaved in all her secrets throughout the book, how she incorporated just enough to keep you reading, while never actually divulging much of anything. I was guessing for most of it and that’s pretty hard to make me do. ~Julie, Clean Teen Reads Wendy Russo has created a masterpiece. ~Ivan Amberlake, Author Book Trailer
Author Wendy S. Russo Wendy S. Russo got her start writing in the sixth grade. That story involved a talisman with crystals that had to be found and assembled before bad things happened, and dialog that read like classroom roll call. Since then, she’s majored in journalism (for one semester), published poetry, taken a course on short novels, and watched most everything ever filmed by Quentin Tarantino. A Wyoming native transplanted in Baton Rouge, Wendy works for Louisiana State University as an IT analyst. She’s a wife, a mom, a Tiger, a Who Dat, and she falls asleep on her couch at 8:30 on weeknights.
Blog Tour Giveaway $25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 5/8/13 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer http://iamareader.com and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway