Title: Hush Money
Author: Susan Bischoff
May Contain Spoilers
They call their abilities Talents, and that’s what they call themselves as well. Talents are people born with supernatural powers, feared by the population at large. Possession of an “unregistered ability” has become illegal, and those who are discovered are forcibly removed to government-run research facilities. They do not return.
And so the Talents try, as best they can, to keep their abilities secret–some more successfully than others. For some, keeping that secret begins to define who they are. That’s where Hush Money begins…
Be normal, invisible. Don’t get close to anyone. Those are the rules to live by for seventeen-year-old Joss. She spent years as an outsider, hoping to hide what she is, until the new girl, Kat, decides she’s friend material. Kat doesn’t realize her mistake when she stands up for Joss against Marco, a guy who’s been giving Joss a hard time since freshman year. Joss is horrified when these heroics lead to the reveal of Kat’s Talent. Now she has an unasked-for best friend, who is the victim of an extortion plot by the school bully, who used to like Joss. And if all that weren’t complicated enough, Dylan, Joss’s long-time crush, is finally starting to talk to her. But as Marco’s best friend, can Dylan be trusted at all? Can Joss keep her secret and still save her friend? And what’s more important, staying safe or doing what’s right?
Hush Money is a novel of approximately 50,000 words, and is rated PG-13 for strong language and one suggestive scene. It is recommended that parents read the sample provided by their retailer before purchasing this book for tweens/younger teens.
This was a very fun read, and it made me realize that self-pubbed books can be just as entertaining as books released by traditional publishers. Yes, I have been known to be a bit of a book snob, and I have avoided smaller press and author published books. The few I had read previously just didn’t draw me into the story, but over the past few months, I have read some that I really enjoyed. The key is to sample, sample, sample, and make use of the free chapters before making a purchase decision. I am finding that with my Kindle, I am reading books I would ordinarily not have. The pricing for this book was hard to resist, too. It was .99 cents, and after reading the free sample, I quickly found myself clicking the Buy button at Amazon.
Joss is a loner, and that’s how she likes things. Her family isn’t quite normal, and her father has drilled both Joss and her younger sister Jill on the importance of being ready for anything and not getting close to anyone. Joss is a Talent, and the government would swoop in like an angry crow and snatch her away from her family if they ever found out. When Kat moves to town, Joss’ world is turned upside down. She suddenly has a friend, and she’s making connections with other people. Dangerous connections that could get them all in serious trouble with the government. As Joss finally starts to feel like she belongs, though, she throws caution to the wind.
This is a very fast-paced read, and it will appeal to fans of super hero comics. As Joss gets to know her classmates, she discovers that a surprising number are Talents, and she begins to wonder how they will avoid detection from the authorities. With fellow classmate Marco making life a living hell for both Joss and Kat, Joss begins taking chances she would normally never consider. Marco is threatening to turn Kat over to the government, and when Joss learns that he is also blackmailing a boy she has a crush on, it’s the last straw for the usually quiet and reserved Joss. When she gets pissed, watch out! Joss thinks well under pressure, she knows how to fight, and she won’t let the people she cares about get hurt.
While I found Marco just a bit too one-dimensional, the action and the plotting kept the story feeling fresh, and kept me engaged in the book. I love when I discover entertaining reads in places I wouldn’t normally look, and I am looking forward to learning more about Bischoff’s Talents.
Review copy purchased from Amazon