From Romeo and Juliet, Tristan and Isolde and Nathan and Haley (yes, that’s a One Tree Hill reference, I have no shame at all in admitting this) the course of true love rarely runs smoothly. It is this notion that Bourne critically looks at in her electrifying YA debut.
Poppy is seventeen, cynical and occasionally gets panic attacks. Noah is a teenage musician trying to deal with his own problems. When the two meet at a local band night, Noah’s amp literally explodes and despite strong chemistry, the two don’t initially see eye to eye.
However as the two fall in love, things outside of their bubble seem to be going wrong. A mysterious agency is watching them and intending to pull them apart, plus the weather is erratic and borders on natural disasters at times. Soon they are faced with a terrible choice when they learn their love may actually doom the world.
While this may sound like a typical YA clichéd book, Bourne manages to avoid this through the strength of her characterisation. Poppy’s cynical nature in particular was brilliant and completely balanced the tone from seeing tired by adding a different spin. While certain elements of the plot like the star-crossed lovers, or rich absent parents in Noah’s case, has been done before, it really doesn’t feel like Bourne is just rejigging old material. The characters are compelling, the plot fast-moving and addictive and it’s a read that is difficult to put down.
Poppy’s a really strong narrator and this is important because it helps us really get behind her falling so quickly for Noah, and vice versa, despite her own misgivings and experiencing something so utterly new. Noah was the perfect mix of swoony, broody and also his own person. I thought it was interesting that he had clear issues about the fact his parents basically abandoned him when he really needed him and to me this showed in his attitude to spending their money. It was also brilliant that Poppy had friends outside of Noah and was aware that just because she’s in a relationship doesn’t mean she should dump her friends- all of whom were brilliant individuals.
The science behind Soulmates was well done. It wasn’t too much of a stretch to believe and it wasn’t so detailed that it took away from other parts of the book. The idea that soulmates’ charge can create such disasters was intriguing and Bourne really creates pathos for these characters for the impossibility of their situation and the fact that ordinarily they would just be acting like normal teenagers.
I also loved how Bourne bought the fictional town of Middletown to life, in fact in many ways some descriptions reminded me of places I’ve lived, and I really liked that this was a YA set in the UK, but not just automatically London.
Exciting, smouldering and energetic, Soulmates is a great YA read that I think will sweep many readers away. Fans of love stories in their YA should really get behind Poppy and Noah. With its winning humour, strong characters and considered plot, this is a book that really does reinvigorate the star-crossed lovers of YA.
Soulmates was released on September 1st by Usborne Publishing, who kindly sent me an advanced reading copy for my honest reviewing purposes. A quote from my review also made it into the final copy which is awesome 🙂