Strange Chemistry, out now
Accompanying her younger brother to Ireland, Becca learns far more about her family history than she believed possible…
Although there are a few moments in here where you really hope that the narrative may go in a different direction to the one it’s obviously taking, this is one of Strange Chemistry’s best new novels, because of the depiction of its heroine.
In many YA novels, the protagonist can be too focused on the problem that is at the heart of the book – whether it’s a mystery, or, as with the Strange Chemistry books, some form of supernatural or sci-fi premise – and therefore loses some of the hallmark behaviour of a teen. But Julianna Scott has nailed the way in which teenagers can completely get everything out of perspective, and miss the blindingly obvious which is under their noses – as well as the mixture of bemusement, annoyance and sometimes downright anger that this can provoke in the adults around them.
Scott also sets up an interesting premise, which has echoes of Charles Xavier’s Westchester school but is populated by different enough characters not to make it as much of an X-Men homage as it could be. There’s a lot of set-up, unsurprisingly, in this book, but enough is paid off by the end to make it a satisfying read.
Verdict: A strong start to a series that promises a different take on superpowers. 8/10