The main character is Chloe Saunders has always been able to see people who weren't really there. Which was fine when she was little, but when she was still seeing them at 15 it lands her in a "home for troubled teens", the Lyle House. It's at Lyle House that Chloe is labeled as schizophrenic. As if that isn't enough, Chloe has to deal with the other kids that have been shuffled off to Lyle House by family or ended up there after showing that they were "problem children". Chloe comes to the realization that all is not as it seems at Lyle House and there are really weird things about each of the kids who are there. There's Tori, who is mean to everyone else and seems to know more about what's going on than she should. Rae who likes fire a little too much. Derek who is large, rude, and has abnormally sharp hearing. Derek's foster brother, Simon who is cute but seems a bit shifty. And Liz who is really nice, until she gets angry, then things begin to fly around the room. Without her touching anything. And since I don't want to ruin the plot for you, that's all I'm going to say.
The thing I like best about Kelley Armstrong's characters, is that even thought this is completely fiction, they are very believable. They have realistic problems, no one blindly trusts "just because", terrible first impressions take a long time to get over, and that there are no absolute bad guys, just mostly people who are doing bad things for what they think is the right reason. Or bad things for money or power, which again, is very realistic.
I'm going to have to give this 5 stars. This is on my yearly rotation of books to reread.
In Katsa's world there are two kinds of people, the Gifted and the non-Gifted. There are fairly normal Gifts like music, hunting, languages, and so on. And then there's Katsa's Gift. Which as everyone in the kingdom knows, is killing. Thanks to a very public and accidental killing of a not-so-nice man at Katsa's hands when she was very young, she's only allowed to have some semblance of freedom because her uncle finds her useful. Her uncle is the king and finds it very useful to have a Gifted killer at his disposal to scare his subjects into doing as he wishes. However, Katsa has plans of her own and is part of an underground movement of people who are trying to lessen the harsh reign of the king. Katsa sets out to free a political prisoner and runs into someone who has a similar Gift for the first time in her life. His Gift isn't killing, but fighting. This book has just about everything you could want in an action book, hand-to-hand fighting, daring escapes, sword fighting, mystery, the looming potential of war, spies, and a little bit of romance thrown into the mix.
I like Katsa immensely, partly because she can't be bothered with anything that isn't at least partly functional. But I also loved seeing her personal growth, which I know sounds boring. But Katsa shows that your own definition of yourself is more important than the ones that others give you. While the "evil ruler" and the "even worse evil ruler" are pretty standard, the other characters in the story are complex, not always perfect people. Who despite their flaws, I wouldn't mind having in my life as friends.
This is another 5 stars.