Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Series: Trylle Series
Author's Website: http://amandahocking.blogspot.com/
Challenge: YA/MG Fantasy, Speculative Romance
When Wendy Everly was six years old, her mother was convinced she was a monster and tried to kill her. Eleven years later, Wendy discovers her mother might have been right. She's not the person she's always believed herself to be, and her whole life begins to unravel - all because of Finn Holmes.
Finn is a mysterious guy who always seems to be watching her. Every encounter leaves her deeply shaken...though it has more to do with her fierce attraction to him than she'd ever admit. But it isn't long before he reveals the truth: Wendy is a changeling who was switched at birth - and he's come to take her home.
Now Wendy's about to journey to a magical world she never knew existed, one that's both beautiful and frightening. And where she must leave her old life behind to discover who she's meant to become...
I loved Wendy right from the first pages of Switched. She's the perfect blend of fierce and independent, spoiled and self-centered, and selfless and emotional. Her tone throughout the book conveys everything she's feeling at every point - achingly so at times. And what she's feeling at each turn is so real, so right for the situation - her character is an organic growth, real and 3D and completely believable.
The ideas of identity and of family are brilliantly explored in the story. Wendy of course has to come to terms with being a Trylle rather than a human, but it goes deeper than that and questions that classic "nature vs. nurture" debate. It's amazing, though, the way the Trylle community is not at all one-dimensional. We see many different facets of the various people, and Wendy has to base her decision not on a single characteristic of the Trylle but on the whole complex situation - and I love that!
I also love the way the concept of family is dealt with. The cover has the the line "What if your entire life was built on a lie?" and before I even read the book, this line sparked a discussion with my mother about whether kids finding out they're adopted should feel that their lives up till then have been a lie. We concluded that whatever they had till then was actually truth - and when I read the book, I was happy to see the same issue subtly poking through at times.
As for Wendy's romantic relationships - it's funny, but for once I wasn't at all put off by the two-guy situation. Both boys are genuinely easy to like, and the way each one's relationship with Wendy develops is so smooth and real. And it takes a while for both - it's not automatic attraction, which sometimes works but usually falls flat for me. In Switched, it's not so obvious, and I expect to see more of both in the next books.
And for once, I'm happy to be reading a book a while after it was published, because now I don't have to wait longer than it takes to get the books from the library in order to read the sequels!