Scoop Review of Books

Romance, Fantasy, and Native American Spirit Animal Guides

The Soul Seekers Series: Echo by Alyson Noel

Reviewed by Maria Robinson, age 14

What do you get when you mix romance, fantasy, magick, Native American spirit animal guides, a family of Richters, a prophecy, and forces of good and bad … with some seemingly ordinary teenagers who are determined to follow their destinies and protect the Lowerworld from evil?

The result: Echo, the second book in The Soul Seekers series by popular YA author Alyson Noel.

Daire is a soul seeker. Dace is her boyfriend, and twin of the villainous Cade. Cade and the Richters are trying to take over the Lowerworld; Daire and Dace want to preserve it.

Dace and Daire grow closer. Their relationship becomes more powerful, but so does Cade. It’s up to Daire and Dace to stop him and his sinister intentions before it’s too late. It won’t be easy. But with the loving support of Daire’s grandmother Paloma, and the magick that comes with being a seeker, they just might be able to do it.

Echo is written in a very descriptive style. Sometimes this is a positive aspect of Echo, but in other parts it seems a little over the top.
For example, “I study the late-afternoon shadow that appears to be stalking us. An unlikely, elongated silhouette of a raven with a spindly stem of a neck, and two ridiculously tall people sitting astride a horse with legs so stretched and skinny they hardly look able to support us — the exaggerated shape heralding a night soon to fall.”

Now, is it just me, or did you need to read that twice? Alyson Noel also uses a lot of sentence fragments, which I initially found a little strange, but got used to as the story went on. It’s readable, but isn’t the sort of writing I’d normally choose.

Echo will appeal most to teenage girls. I’m sure it will be snapped up by fans of Alyson’s previous books. But it probably is sensible to read Echo’s prequel, Fated, first.

The incorporation of Native American spirit animals in Echo is a unique twist on this otherwise not-so-unusual fantastical romance. The note in the front of the book explaining the characteristics of some of these creatures — bear, hummingbird, bat, opossum and otter — was also appreciated.

I like the idea of Dace and Cade being anagrams of each other, but thought a slightly more complex, less obvious combination of letters could have been used, providing an opportunity to surprise the reader while also making the two names more individual. Still, it’s a nice thought, reflecting and emphasising the fact that Cade and Dace are “two halves of the same whole”.

On the other hand, some of the other names aren’t so great. There are three sisters named Ashe, Ember, and Phyre. And there’s Daire. You have to admit, they’re pretty cheesy.

Many YA authors fall into the trap of creating irritatingly formulaic, flat characters that have very few personality traits and can be classed as either good or bad. While a few of the characters in Echo leaned in this direction, others were more realistic. Dace, the ‘good’ twin, is not completely angelic. Maybe the next book will reveal more of Cade’s thoughts and show he is not all demonic.

Speaking of thoughts of different characters, in Echo, Alyson Noel writes using multiple points of view and it works. You know who’s talking. And it’s thought-provoking to have several opinions.

Echo does have the sort of ending that leads on to the next book. Your choice: continue reading the series, or never know what happens next and remain uncertain as to whether or not Daire will survive. It’s a bit annoying, but series seem to be the fashion at the moment.

It’s romantic. It’s magickal. It has Native American tradition, excitement, and plenty of description. Echo, the second book in The Soul Seekers series is sure to be a success. There’s only one question. Will Alyson Noel’s fans be able to stand waiting for Echo‘s sequels, Mystic and Horizon?