Any regular reader of this blog knows I am not a huge fan of YA novels. It isn't that they are written well, but rather there tends to be a lot of drama-very quickly, love interests happen even faster, and everything gets wrapped up in a neat bow at the end. More modern YA books involving youth struggling with their sexuality also tend not to really have struggle as gay characters come out and are often quickly embraced, but that is another topic for another book.
With this said, I will readily admit that I have been on a roll recently with YA novels. In the last month, I have read at least 4 that I would hold up, not just as good YA novels, but pretty great fiction as well. The Jackaby series by William Ritter are examples some of those books. While I am going to focus on the first book in this blog post, I have read through two of them and a short story that was free, while eagerly ready for the 3rd book, which probably will not change my opinion of the series so far.
Jackaby is the main character of this book and he is a cross between Doctor Who and Cumberbatch's Sherlock with a bit of X-Files thrown in for good measure. He is a wise ass, makes people feel small while praising them, and investigates cases that the police cannot figure out because they tend to deal with trolls or vampires or other strange phenomena. Jackaby is incredible smart and observant and can pick up certain things that most humans cannot.
The book itself is told from the perspective of Abigail Rook, who has just arrived in New England and happens to answer an old ad. She doesn't know quite what to think about Jackaby, but is in desperate need of money and housing that she follows along.
Rook meets his old assistant, who happens to be a duck at the time and Jackaby's live in ghost. Rook follows along Jackaby as he solves his first case with her at his side- a murder where there is no blood, yet the body is ripped apart. She will meet all sorts of characters and learn what is real and what is out there.
I honestly didn't know Jackaby was a YA novel, it was that well written. It isn't PG in any sense of the word and the characters are complex. While the drama quickly happens, it is because of the nature of the book, instead of a teen in trouble who is overblowing how big of a mess things are. I actually thought this was a book for adults, until I saw the publishing company was for young adults. It is that good!
I will venture into the second book for just a moment, as I was glad to have the characters back, but I had wished for a bit of relationship building between Rook and Jackaby. I am not talking about a romantic relationship, but rather Rook and Jackaby's relationship seemed exactly the same in the first book as in the second.
Jackaby is a great character and Rook is written well as the straight woman. Their partnership is well developed as Rook tries, while Jackaby makes fun while showing his superior intellect. If you know Doctor Who, you know the type of making fun that I am describing.
I enjoyed the series, so far, but really loved the first book. I gave this one 4 stars.
Here is your Amazon link- Jackaby by William Ritter