Grey (The Romany Outcasts Series, Book 1) by Christi J. Whitney
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: April 30, 2015
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Sebastian Grey always thought he was a fairly normal teenager – good friends, decent grades, and a pretty sweet job in his foster brother’s tattoo shop.
But when strangers arrive in town, Sebastian soon realizes that his world is nothing at all what it seemed. Secretive gypsies surround him, shadowy figures stalk him, and the girl he’s been dreaming about turns up at school.
Now Sebastian must protect this girl at all costs, even if it means he will never be normal again.
Grey by Christi J. Whitney was a different read than what's been out in the YA market so far. While most YA authors focus on high school girls and the vampires they fall in love with, Whitney makes her narrative character a high school boy who starts going through a lot more than puberty. There's also no vampires to be seen, but instead Whitney takes us into the colorful world of Gypsy culture (as well as some other elements, that you'll just have to read to find out about!). It's a breath of fresh air when everything seems so mass marketed right now in the YA aisles at book stores.
I enjoyed reading Grey. Sebastian was a likable character who didn't spend pages and pages whining about his star crossed love, or about the changes he was going through. Yes, he had questions (and lots of them), but he doesn't waste the reader's time by making his own problems the story's full focus. Instead Whitney makes sure there's a lot going on to keep the reader's interest peaked so that the pages keep turning with the need for more story, more answers.
In fact, Whitney doesn't even reveal the big secrets of what is happening in Sebastian's life until about halfway through the book (and I'm not going to reveal them either, so you'll just have to deal with a spoiler free review), while the first half is all about Sebastian and how is everyday life is becoming not so normal without him knowing what is exactly causing the changes.
Sebastian's high school experience goes crazy when the Circe, a Gypsy Circus, rolls into his small town and with it, the beautiful Josephine. Sebastian doesn't know what it is about Josephine that has him turning into a bumbling idiot whenever she's around, but from the first moment he sees her he feels an instant connection and longing for her. Josephine was another likable character. She didn't rely on just her looks to get by, but was friendly and genuine with all of the characters.
Another relationship that I liked reading about was Sebastian and his brother. Whitney wrote about life in the tattoo shop in a way that made me wish I was one of the guys and could just hang out with Sebastian and Hugo and the rest of the guys in the shop. They were all tight-knit like they were really brothers even though Sebastian was a foster kid and none of them were blood related. Hugo even lets his feelings for Sebastian be more big-brotherly than his duties require him to be, and I found that sweet and it gave the character more layers.
I would recommend Grey to anyone who's looking for something new in the YA: Urban Fantasy genre. Even if you aren't sick of the vampires, werewolves, and witches, I'd still recommend it. The writing, characters, and plot all make for good reading, and I'm excited to see what happens next in the series with the next book.
Christi J. Whitney is a former high school theatre director with a love for the arts. She lives just outside Atlanta with her husband and two sons.
When not spending time with them or taking a ridiculous number of trips to Disney World, she can be found directing plays, making costumes for sci-fi/fantasy conventions, obsessing over Doctor Who, watching superhero movies, or pretending she’s just a tad bit British.