Souls Untethered (The Souls Untethered Saga Book 1)

by K.J. McPike

Synopsis

Lali Yavari is a typical teenager concerned with friends, with school, and with her family. Everything in Lali’s life changes when her mother disappears, leaving only a cryptic note behind.

On her sixteenth birthday, Lali discovers that she has the power to travel out of her body – to astral project. Then she meets Kai, a mysterious new student at her school, and her troubles begin. Lali and Kai use their powers to try to rescue Lali’s mother and Kai’s sister from the realm of Alea. But things are not so straight forward. Can Lali trust Kai or is he lying to her to serve his own ends?

Theme of the Book

Lali’s story is one based on questions of trust. Trust exists between friends, within the family, and can exist between relative strangers. In Souls Untethered, each character must determine who can or cannot be trusted and how far that trust can be extended. Just as in life, Lali must be very careful of who she places her trust in.

What I Liked About the Story

Souls Untethered has two distinct halves. In the first half of the story, the author presents a beautifully drawn picture of the life and travails of the average teenage girl. The reader meets Lali’s friends: steady, faithful Nelson and glamorous Paisley. There are favorite teachers and hated teachers. Lali’s younger brothers and sisters are objects of both affection and irritation, a normal situation for any teenager. Lali herself is bright, dependable most of the time, a bit rebellious, and often overly dramatic. This is an honest and caring portrait of a sixteen-year-old girl.

The family relationships are equally well done: a caring but distant father, obnoxious twin brothers, an irritating younger sister, and the family pet, Sal, the youngest child. Readers will feel drawn into this family as if it were their own.

In the first half of the novel, Lali discovers her odd power and meets the mysterious Kai who will help her control her ability to travel outside her body and, ultimately find her mother.

The second half of the novel is somewhat different. The plot becomes more complex with more characters, more action, and heightened tension. While Lali, Kai, and the siblings retain the personalities developed during the first half of the book, character becomes less important and is replaced by the rather chaotic action scenes involved in the attempts to rescue Lali’s mother and Kai’s sister. It is during the action scenes that secondary characters’ true colors come to light.

What I Didn’t Like About the Story

The second half of the novel becomes a bit difficult to follow. There are plots within plots, betrayals, and a climactic scene that will leave readers’ heads spinning. I, for one, was left feeling that the author had crowded all the action into the last few chapters of the book. The long narrative explanation given by Lali’s mother at the end of the book could have fit into other sections so that the reader has an idea of what and who to trust.

There are two interesting secondary characters, Nelson and Paisley, who get lost in the second half of the book except for one brief appearance at the end. I would have appreciated knowing more about these two and how they are involved in Lali’s story.

And as a personal peeve, why do so many fantasy authors insist on giving their characters names that either start with or include the letter x? Does the letter x automatically signal an alien character? At least this author was kind enough to include a pronunciation guide.

Final Say

Souls Untethered is the first in a saga of the same name. It can easily be read as a stand-alone novel. Despite a bit of confusion at the end, this is an enjoyable book full of interesting characters and fast action. Both YA and adult fans of fantasy and science fiction should enjoy the book.

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