Marvelous (The Books of Marvella #1) – Travis Thrasher

Marvelous Travis Thrasher
Marvelous by Travis Thrasher
Series: The Books of Marvella #1
Published by NavPress on May 6, 2014
Genres: Fiction, Christian, Suspense, Young Adult
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five-stars

Brandon Jeffery’s summer started out with a bang—as in, a friend crashed his car and now he has to work two jobs to pay it off. It’s at Fascination Street Records that he’s introduced to a beautiful but quiet girl named Marvel. She’s new to Hidden Cove and looking for a summer job, so Brandon secretly strikes a deal with their boss to work for free so she can be hired.

When a classmate is found murdered, however, their summer takes a turn for the mysterious. Brandon’s friend Devon is sure he knows just who’s to blame: the creepy recluse of the town quarry. But the police have few leads, and Brandon has the sneaking suspicion he’s being watched.

That’s not what’s in the forefront of on his mind, though. More than trying to pay off his car to his unemployed, alcoholic father and protecting Seth Belcher from the school bullies, he’s determined to date Marvel. He doesn’t understand why they seem so close and she refuses to date him, but as the mystery behind her tragic past begins to unravel, Marvel finally confesses her reason: God has revealed she’s destined to die saving others—and it’s going to be soon.

Marvelous | Travis Thrasher

Things are about to change in Brandon’s life. If not for the better, than for the weirder. He has two younger brothers; a mom who works all the time to support the family; and an alcoholic, abusive, unemployed father. Life could be better.

Oh, and he recently let a friend borrow his car and that friend totaled it, leaving him carless, needing two summer jobs to pay for the totaled car, and under the wrath of his father. Life could definitely get better.

Then Marvella walks into his life: an enigmatic teenage girl (but aren’t they all?) that silently and unknowingly steals his heart. She needs a job; he just filled the position. So he works out a deal with the owner of Fascination Records to let him work for free so she can be hired and he can get to know her. Maybe life just got better and weirder.

Of course, with a Travis Thrasher novel, nothing is quite that simple. And when the book is finished and the dust is settled, he’ll have you begging for book two. Brandon is a deep and complex character defined by his relationships with others. While he’s the target of his father’s drunken bullying, that makes him a staunch defender of everyone else. He’s a trusting giver (that’s why his car got totaled and he’s working for free) but isn’t resentful about what he’s given up (most of the time). He’s a star-struck lover with a girl who is more than hesitant to let him in on her past. Far from being one-dimensional, Brandon is the type of character whose shoes you can readily jump into. In Marvelous, Travis Thrasher excels in making you feel what his characters are going though, whether or not you can personally relate. Only the best fiction can do that, and Thrasher does so easily you barely notice until you start feeling along with the character.

The Books of Marvella are inevitably going to draw a lot of comparison to his previous YA series, The Solitary Tales. Both involve weird little towns with problems. Both involve a somewhat-normal kid with family problems falling in love with an mysterious teenage girl. Both involve a certain aura of mystery. But, trust me, this is not Solitary all over again. The parallels are there, and, I think, for a reason, but this is a wholly different story.

Thrasher is a writer unlike any other. He’s written love stories, adventure, mystery, horror, Christian movie novelizations, and even a few extrapolations of country music songs. And he’s good at them all. But creepy-YA-life-is-beyond-weird-coming-of-age stories? That’s definitely what he’s best at. I don’t know where book two will take me. I’m scared, really. I’m afraid that what I think will happen will happen, or that what I completely don’t know will happen, or whatever iterations of that are left. But I do know that I’m along for the ride. Marvelous is…well, it’s in the title…It’s absolutely marvelous. But the story is only beginning.

five-stars

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