Series: Books of Marvella #2
Published by NavPress on January 2015
Genres: Fiction, Christian, Suspense, Young Adult
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As the town of Appleton is rocked by the death of a teenager, the high school year begins under a dark shadow. Brandon continues to pursue Marvel while trying to discover what she believes will happen to her. It’s easy to fall more in love with her. It’s easy to forget she thinks God told her she will have to sacrifice herself to save others. But Brandon can’t forget about the shapeless evil that seems to watch him around corners and seep through the streets of his town.
Strange things start to occur to Brandon. He starts looking for clues about the dead student, thinking this might be related to whatever evil Marvel is talking about. He also continues to battle against the guys picking on a nerdy senior named Seth Belcher. Marvel falls in love with Brandon, and he truly accepts her faith even though he doesn’t understand what to make of it. Something is growing in the darkness. Something is coming. Will Brandon be able to stand up against the malice that draws ever closer? Will he be able to save Marvel from the horrors to come?
Things aren’t looking so great for Brandon. Life’s not been normal for a long time—unless you consider having an abusive alcoholic for a father to be a normal thing, unless you consider having an enigmatic maybe-not-quite-but-possibly-one-day girlfriend convinced that God’s told her she’s going to die soon a normal thing, unless you have a sorta-job at a record store that pays mostly in good friendships and good music…hey that one’s not too bad.
Like most of Travis’s novels, Wonder (and the Books of Marvella as a whole) is about relationships: relationships that are stretched by the supernatural, the implausible, and the God-directed. With Wonder, Travis Thrasher writes a novel of brokenness, hope, redemption, soul-searching, questioning, fighting, and learning. Thrasher captures the awkwardness, the potential, the challenges, and the glories of high school.
I think what struck me most was the natural evolution of Brandon’s relationship with Marvel. It would have been easy to make the development of their relationship into a Christian Dating PSA. While the novel is blunter about a Christian message than other Thrasher novels, the bluntness comes naturally through characters who are learning about each other and grappling with their spiritual and moral beliefs.
My only issue: very little major developments happen outside of Brandon and Marvel. Which means that the story is maybe a little bit too like life. There are developments and things are growing and intensifying and the mystery is becoming more and more complicated, but there are very few major payoffs, which I think is important in YA fiction. It seems that Wonder was written just to get onto the good stuff in books three and four.
Now don’t get me wrong, Wonder is a very good novel and I’m committed to the series to the end. Thrasher is going places with this story and he’s got me hooked. Nobody writes creepy-YA-coming-of-age fiction like Travis and nobody else manages to get me into the shoes of a character the way he does.