‘Straight from the off, what you see is what you get’ – Switched by Amanda Hocking

Amanda Hocking is now known as the self-publishing queen, the girl who took her chance with the ebook market and won. Her new publishers and Amazon page state how she’s sold over a million books already, so I’m a little late joining the Hocking hype and phenomenon. Switched takes a spin on the saturated YA fantasy genre by introducing the reader to the next generation of creatures, trolls, spelt Trylle by Hocking. But these aren’t the ugly, hair-standing-up-on-end, rub-their-belly-for-good-luck trolls; these trolls are gorgeous, seductive beings with powers to control the elements as well as humans.

We follow the story of 17-year-old Wendy Everly, who discovers she is a Trylle at her new school, the latest in a long line as she struggles to conform to normal society. The other new kid at school, Finn, also happens to be a Trylle, a tracker who specialises in finding and retrieving Trylle children. They are sent out into the world by their families to receive good education by their rich human hosts, and most importantly, get trust funds to bankroll the secluded Trylle society.

Wendy’s human mother was convinced she was a changeling and tried to kill Wendy as a child, leaving her to be raised moderately by her foster aunt and brother. After being convinced by Finn to leave her human family, Wendy moves to Förening, the Trylle community. Here Hocking writes a community that takes all the best and worse of a human one; power struggles are common, everyone fights for the upper hand, and an established caste system keeps the majority of the Trylle and humans in their place. The human children who were stolen from their parents and replaced with the Trylle’s continue to live at Förening.

Wendy being a Trylle is not enough for Hocking, she’s also a princess, destined for greatness and with some of the strongest powers that have been seen in the Trylle world for a long time. 

All is not as it seems though and Hocking leaves the reader with some details for the next novel in the trilogy. Wendy isn’t an easy character to like, she whines and has tantrums, which grate after a while. She tells us she’s strong but when Wendy joins the Trylle community, she’s meek and quiet and I wanted more from her. Little character development takes place throughout the novel. Straight from the off, what you see is what you get.

This book plays on the paranormal themes rather than trying to break free of them. Hocking creates a misfit heroine and a silent, brooding love interest; there is an illicit love affair, strange new beings and powers to understand, and alienation in a new community. Sound familiar?

The writing is easily accessible, the plot unfolds without many distractions; Hocking is all about the main action. She knows how to tantalise the reader with titbits of information and reveal key information in the right places. There is a sense she has the plot under control, if a little heavy-handed with the distribution of it.

Any Cop?: I can see why this novel has been so popular with the teenage market; it’s easy to read, the world is appealing, and I’m sure we all know what it’s like to be an outsider in our communities. Hocking is onto a winner.

 

Claire Snook 

 

 

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