Review of Random by Alma Alexander

Random is a story about Jazz Marsh, youngest child of a Random Were family. Unlike other Weres, a Random can change into different animals, but otherwise they are like other Weres — locked into a form for their Turns, all three days of the full moon. They’re also literally locked in — either into a Turning Room in their own house or in a government-run Turning House, which can cause some issues with school and work, oddly enough.

The world Alma Alexander has created is ripe for discussing how we treat the Other, who human rights apply to, and what it’s like to grow up different.

But she does this through the story of Jazz Marsh and her dead older sister, Celia. Jazz wants to figure out how her family fits together, why her sister died, and where she fits into the world. It’s a beautiful story, heart-breaking in places, yet with other snippets that made me laugh out loud. It’s an enchanting start to a new series, and I’m looking forward to reading more.

That’s not to say that there aren’t flaws — at one point, Jazz asks a friend how someone could Turn in the middle of the day, and her friend asks whether she hasn’t seen the moon up in the middle of the day. Well, yes and no. The moon might be up in the middle of the day, but it won’t be a full moon. It’s astronomically impossible. The moon reflects the sun’s light. To have a full moon, the sun has to be striking it straight on — which it cannot do if the moon is between the Earth and the sun. So that threw me out of the story.

Overall, however, the world is well-developed (including all the medical information for the drug Stay) and self-consistent, as are the characters. If you’re looking for a YA read and like Weres, check this out. Currently only available in e-book format (Amazon), the paperback will be available in December.

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