The Year of Four
by Nya Jade
Phoebe Pope, #1
October 28th 2012
The students of Green Lane Academy roam their halls unaware that below their manicured campus exists a prestigious school of an entirely different kind . . .
Sixteen-year-old Phoebe Pope has enrolled at the Campus Below: a spy academy for shape-shifters hidden deep beneath the grounds of a boarding school whose humans unknowingly protect it. There, thanks to a carefully planned schedule, she leads a double life: spy trainee Below and normal teenager Above.
As if two course loads, concealing a secret power she alone wields, and coping with her father’s recent death weren’t enough, Phoebe finds herself developing major feelings for actor and teen heartthrob Colten Chase, who attends the Campus Above and appears to be majoring in winning Phoebe’s heart. But when officials learn that Phoebe may be at the center of a startling prophecy, she becomes the target of shape-shifting assassins who will stop at nothing to suppress the truth.
Now Phoebe’s lessons about Shaper’s enemies and spycraft take on great importance as a menace stalks the campus, with Phoebe as its target. Meanwhile, what began as an unlikely relationship with Colten, quickly morphs into heartache when she suspects that something sinister lurks beneath this movie star’s glitter and fame. Suddenly, Phoebe’s caught in a mesh of lies, betrayals, and danger where she doesn’t know who to trust, and needs to rely on herself—and her secret power—to get to the truth and to stay alive.
Although shape-shifters aren't usually my thing, this story swept me away.
Phoebe is a sixteen-year-old girl, who after the loss of her father, decides to enroll in a special school known as the school 'below'. Hidden beneath a normal school, the one 'above', the school below is for Shifters. But there's a war raging. A group wants to kidnap Phoebe and three other students thanks to a prophecy that claims one of the four harbors secret powers. Despite protection, the kidnappers get their fingers on two of them, and Phoebe knows it's only a matter of time before she will be next.
In some ways, this book reminded me of Vampire Academy. There's a school for those with special abilities - Shifters -, romance, outside danger and a heroine with a bit of an attitude. Phoebe is a very self-assured girl and doesn't let others push her around. Still, she's carrying a lot of baggage. As a half breed, she doesn't completely fit in and struggles with this outwardly as well as inwardly. She never comes across pitiful or naive, but uses her head and doesn't let things get her down. And this is what makes her easy to cheer for until the end.
The romance sprinkles nicely between the main plot, allowing the action and mystery to stay as the main focus. It's not quite a love at first sight, but it's clear from the beginning that Phoebe will end up with her prince. He does harbor a few secrets of his own, which add a nice twist not only to this book but several possible plot bunnies for the rest of the series.
The author has built a complex world of shifters and their politics. Although this seems like it might get confusing during the first chapters, it quickly smooths out as the adventure unfolds. As the layers of intriguing start to appear, the information behind this world slides neatly into place. Not only did this book provide many unexpected twists and turns, but the groundwork is laid for even more intrigue to come. And I'm looking forward to see what happens to Phoebe next.
The Blood of Kings
by Nya Jade
Phoebe Pope, #2
According to the press, Phoebe Pope and teen movie star Colten Chase are no longer an item—which is just how the happy new couple like it. And yet there’s trouble in paradise . . .
Phoebe is haunted by dreams that show her things she can’t possibly know about—including a pact between Colten and a wanted assassin. In the daylight, she struggles to keep a newly emerging power hidden, even as her hands itch to wield it.
Meanwhile, in the wake of their escape from a Vigo crèche, Phoebe and her fellow Hyphas study under lock and key at the Campus Below. As the foursome wait to see who among them will fulfill the prophecy, someone dear to Phoebe is kidnapped by a powerful Vigo determined to use her to spy on the Shaper royalty. When the Hyphas are called to the Royal Court, Phoebe refuses to heed warnings of imminent danger for she will do whatever it takes to rescue her loved one.
But once at court, nothing is as it first appears. A sinister force controls some royals, while others whisper behind closed doors about forbidden alliances. And as Phoebe draws on her courage to complete the task set by her enemy, she makes a startling discovery—one that upends her father’s memory.
With dangerous conspiracies surfacing, Phoebe must uncover what the Royal Shapers really want from her, and decide whether there’s room for Colten in her unraveling life.
I was looking forward to diving into this book after reading the first one in the series and wasn't disappointed.
Phoebe is under tight watch with the three other half-shifters, Hyphas, thanks to the prophecy which claims that one of them will wield the power to change the war. The upcoming meeting with the Royal Crown, the leaders of the Shifters, isn't helping to calm her nerves. Throw in strange dreams and more layers of intrigue, and Phoebe is off in another action packed adventure.
Phoebe still isn't sure how she fits in but thanks to her friends and a good head on her shoulders is managing. Just as she's learning more about her emotional power, a new one is settling in. This constant learning about herself and the world around her, make her easy to sympathize with. She has special powers but isn't sure how to file them in her life, and is always dealing with more on top of it. In other words, she's not perfect and has to handle what's thrown at her. But she's fairly level headed, suspicious enough not to be naive and ready to do what she has to when the situation demands.
There were so many new twists and turns in this book that it felt just as refreshing and exciting as the first. While some of the side characters offer clear and needed support, others have shadows which make it difficult to know what side they're on or what their true intentions are. The layers keep the plot interesting the whole way through.
There's never a boring moment, but Phoebe runs from one situation into the next, taking on whatever gets in her way. Even the romance stays on its toes. . .although this hero is one to definitely stick with and root for. The two make a wonderful team but don't over shadow the value of Phoebe's other friends. And Phoebe needs the help because despite all of her bravery and strengths, there's a lot for her to face. In other words, this read grabbed me on the first page and held me until the very end.
And here she is. . .
Nya Jade has enjoyed a fun career as a singer-songwriter. Her music videos have aired on the Vh1, BET and MTV networks and she’s opened for some of the biggest names in music. Nya’s music has also received recognition in major publications, including USA Today and the LA Times. She took a break from writing and performing music to write The Year of Four, her first YA novel. When she isn’t writing, Nya can be found hanging out with family and friends, reading or bargain hunting for her next pair of funky shoes. Nya lives with her family in California.
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