From The Wreckage
By: Michele G. Miller
Format of Book: E-Book, One day I will own her paperbacks, too. She’s just that good.
I will start by saying I read this book in one day.. I really couldn’t put it down. From The Wreckage is a beautifully written novel that will draw you in from the very first chapter. When you start reading, you really don’t know what you’re getting yourself into and then suddenly you are thrown onto a rollercoaster ride. From The Wreckage is a haunting story about Jules Blacklin, a high school senior, who has survived a devastating storm in her town. She is forced to keep moving forward and find a way to continue surviving, despite the horror that she has experienced firsthand.
“In a matter of minutes on a Friday night, I lost my school, my identity, the security of my first love, the personality of my sweet fearless brother, my best friend, my town, everything as I knew it. Everything changed. Minutes – that’s all it takes to change your entire life. How do you deal with that?”
Have you ever read one of those books where you feel like you are right in the middle of all the action? I was terrified, anxious, attached, frantic, desperate, hesitant, and filled with hope at multiple points while reading this novel, many at the same time. If you are like me and have never lived through a natural disaster to this magnitude, it’s hard to know what it’d be like. Sure, you can imagine it to some degree, but you really don’t know. From the moment the tornado lands, I was right there with/as Jules. My heart was racing and I felt her desperation.
The Final Countdown
Characterization – 5/5 Stars
Miller does a great job delving into the psyche of a victim, finding the different facets of what makes her characters tick and then taking them through various stages of disarray. Each character experiences the same horrific and traumatizing event, but they all come out with a different scar. The sad beauty is that not all of these scars are physical. I immediately felt drawn to Jules. She’s that girl who has it all and then… doesn’t. Her decisions are many of the same ones I’d make. She’s one of the most real characters I’ve had the pleasure of reading in a long time.
One heartbreaking character within this story is Jules’ younger brother, Jase. Children see the world with open, excited eyes; they are ready to explore and learn. What happens to children when their world gets turned upside down, literally and figuratively?
West Rutledge.. don’t even get me started. A hero with something else seeding inside. I found his mystery to be magnetic and wanted to know more about him. (Ah, the beauty of series novels.) 🙂
Perhaps the biggest character of all is the storm itself. It becomes more than an event, it becomes personified – a villain that came to town and changed everything, leaving dust, damage and loss in its wake.
Overall, Miller’s cast of characters is seamlessly produced. I’d love to see what would happen if this had the chance to go to the big screen. (I call dibs on being cast as Jules, though…)
Dialogue – 4/5 Stars
The execution of dialogue throughout this novel is done very well. Like everything else in this book, the dialogue is refreshing and honest. My favorite bits are the conversations that take place in the basement while Jules and West are trapped; these are the ones that pull at your heartstrings and make you breathe a little faster out of well-placed anxiety. One of the lines that West says to Jules while trapped struck a chord with me – “We’re not gonna die tonight, Buffy. I’ll be damned if I finally get the nerve to speak to you again, only to die in this place.”
Plot – 5/5 Stars
There’s perfection in this plot. The best part? It’s not overdone. Miller has found something unique, but instead of banking on just the simple idea of a storm changing everything and how it resolves for a single character, she has created a web of cause and effect for multiple characters. To quote the Buffy the Vampire Slayer musical Once More With Feeling (which I feel is very fitting, seeing as FTW has multiple references to the cult classic) “Where do we go from here?”
Visual Imagery – 5/5 Stars
Storms like the one in FTW happen all the time around the world. You watch the news, see photos and videos, feel sad and slightly scared, but it’s still not typically on your doorstep. Unless you’ve lived through it firsthand, there’s no way to actually get it. Reading From The Wreckage made me feel like I was inside the storm instead of just seeing archived footage. Recovering from those early scenes was like finishing a race… you need time to let everything settle and go back to normal.
When I’m reading a really good book, I find myself seeing through the eyes of a character I am drawn toward. For this one – it was Jules. The tornado touched down right behind her and my world went hazy as I ran for my life. When you find yourself right there, in the midst of it all, that’s when you know the author did something right.
Ending 4.5/5 Stars
Without giving anything away, the ending was satisfying enough, but I wanted even more. Not in a bad way, but in the when’s-the-next-in-the-series-coming-out kind of way. But that’s how it goes with books I am drawn into. Looking forward to the next one!!
Total: 23.5/25 Stars
Why read this book?
Beauty and tragedy don’t tend to go hand-in-hand… but here they do. So much loss, love, growth, and coming of age in this complex YA novel. It’s a great start to what is sure to be an amazing series. I am an avid Michele G. Miller fan, but this is by far her best yet.
Have you read this book? What were your thoughts?