A Fast and Brutal Wing

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9781596430136: A Fast and Brutal Wing
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She leapt, a perfect arc, lithe muscles propelling her through the air, leaving what was human behind, clothes fallen to the ground. She was cat, claws unsheathed, teeth bared. Loving the hunt, the chase, the pounce and the strike, her teeth sinking into flesh, blood spurting in her mouth.

Animal justice: ruthless and swift. And totally satisfying.

A provocative, richly layered, and utterly compelling novel that asks the answerable: what is truth, and what does it mean to be human?

Niki and Emmet are siblings with a secret: their ability to change from human to animal, and back-their ability to transform-she to a cat, he to a hawk. Their mother is clueless, but how much does the elusive writer Slanger know? Is their classmate Doug as superficial as he seems? Is the psychiatrist a caretaker or an enemy? And what did she have to do with their father's disappearance?

Alternating 4 voices, paralleling the transformations of adolescence itself, this book is also about the transformative power of great literature, on the border between the darkest fantasy and our own reality.

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About the Author:

Kathleen Jeffrie Johnson is a library technician and author of The Parallel Universe of Liars, a Booklist Top Ten First Books for Youth and a YALSA Quick Pick and Target an ALA Best Book for Young Adults and a VOYA Top Ten Selection. She lives in Rockville, MD.

Review:

Booklist Gr. 8-11. This clever, beautifully written tale stretches the boundaries of the imagination. Disparate perspectives describe the aftermath of a Halloween night in which a famous author goes missing after reportedly attacking local teens. Letters and a teenager's writing assignments are among the devices that reveal the magical element (characters can transform into animal form) as well as deep, realistic hurts: a family haunted by the disappearance of a father. The characters' increasingly frequent need to alter themselves and the thrill of their animal transformations are compellingly described. The subtle feline and birdlike qualities central to the human characters make the transformations believable and serve as a demonstration of Johnson's talent... this is a novel that readers will remember long after turning the final page.  Publishers Weekly As Johnson's (The Parallel Universe of Liars) riveting novel opens, readers learn that on Halloween night, three teens took a walk in the woods. One ends up reporting to the police that the other two--Emmet and Niki, a troubled brother and sister--attacked a famous but reclusive writer who lived there. The trio ends up naked, and the brother and sister covered in blood, but the writer is not found. Lonely, nerdy Doug, 15, recants his report of the events, but 16-year-old Emmet is put in a psychiatric hospital while his sister receives treatment at home. In Emmet's letters to his psychiatrist, Dr. Rita Milton, he reveals that 14-year-old Niki believes in "animals changing into people, people changing into animals. She calls it transformation." Niki believes she is becoming a cat and Emmet a hawk. But are the siblings really supernatural, or are they just mentally ill victims of incest? And what really happened that night in the woods? The author plants many seeds, even implicating the psychiatrist (the writer was her patient; the siblings' father, a journalist who abandoned the family, interviewed her). Through Emmet and Doug's letters to Dr. Milton, a story Niki wrote, and clippings from a local newspaper, readers try to piece together the mystery. The remote woods setting provides a fittingly creepy setting. The conflicting versions plus the fact that, even in the end, the truth remains unclear may trouble readers. Overall, mature readers will be drawn into--and chilled by--this suspenseful novel. Ages 12-up.  School Library Journal Grade 9 Up–Vaguely reminiscent of The Blair Witch Project, Johnson's novel explores memory, fear, and imagination. Niki, her brother Emmet, and their friend Doug narrate the somewhat fantastical story via journal entries, e-mails, and newspaper clippings. What REALLY happened on Halloween night in the woods when all three teens awakened to find themselves naked and bloody? As the plot disjointedly unfolds, readers gradually learn that the siblings' father left the family two years earlier, supposedly with his mistress. When their mother begins dating the famous, secretive, and somewhat sinister author Nicholas Slanger, he disappears as well. Puzzle pieces begin to fall into place as readers realize that Emmet has since been institutionalized and Niki claims that she is able to transform into a cat, while her brother can turn into a hawk. They both have strange dreams of blood and hunting, but what is the reality? Whose story is reliable when even Doug, Emmet's psychiatrist, and Slanger seemed to turn into animals that fateful night? There are no absolute answers in this powerful and disturbing blend of fantasy/mystery/study of mental illness. Teens will either love it or hate it, but they won't forget it.–

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780312371487: A Fast and Brutal Wing

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ISBN 10:  0312371489 ISBN 13:  9780312371487
Publisher: Square Fish, 2007
Softcover

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