I’m not even sure what to say about this other than wow. It definitely lived up to my expectations. Before you start this one make sure you have a good chunk of time set aside to read it in one go. I had to keep putting it down because that icky thing called life got in the way and I found myself wondering constantly when I could get back to it. It’s one of those books that sucks you in completely. Faye may be one of my favourite heroines so far in 2012; she’s flawed, in fact at times she’s not a very nice person at all, but you still can’t help feeling sorry for her because of the monstrously horribly life she’s lead. And the reasons for it are completely out of her control. It’s worse when she arrives to Holbrook Academy--another thing out of her control entirely--and she’s subjected to the abuse of the “caretakers” there. She’s just a lonely girl who has problems no one really knows what to do about, so they ship her off to the most convenient place and leave it at that. I rooted for her the entire time, even when what she was doing was rather morally grey. Her friends were not so well drawn out as Faye was, though the length of the novel and the fact that it’s a standalone has something to do with that. I liked what we had but if a bit more focus could have been put on them and Faye’s relationships with them, it would have been an awesome topper to this already amazing book. I actually didn’t mind Faye’s instant attraction to Kel; I thought the way they first met, with words and voices through a wall, was rather sweet given Faye’s powers. It was a good basis, and given what we find out later in the novel I was willing to overlook the instant attraction bit. It helps that they aren’t officially together “omigod i would absolutely die for you” by the end of the novel, either. The writing can get repetitive at times, but honestly, it was very rare and the gorgeous descriptions made up for it. When Faye has her visions of the water coming for her, you feel like it’s coming right for you, too. The descriptions of her powers are really well done, and the writing wasn’t at all clunky. The pacing does go into overdrive near the middle of the book, after the first half is relatively slower, so it does get disorienting when it suddenly hits you in the face. It kind of leaves you thinking “Wait, is this really happening? Like seriously?” But given the strengths of the rest of the book I was able to overlook it. I will admit the red herring placed in the novel didn’t fool me one bit and I knew who the Harbinger was the entire time. Still, the rest of the mystery is well done and kept me guessing, so it makes up for the obviousness of the Harbinger’s identity. Contrary to what some others are saying, I like that Faye didn’t tell us too much about her world, which is obviously close to a dystopian. She grew up with it; it wouldn’t have made sense for her to sit there and infodump about something she’s already familiar with. The little teases we get were realistically the right amount of information a person growing up in that world would give. It was enough that you got the full idea of how absolutely screwed the world is, and therein lies one of Harbinger’s strengths: You want the Harbinger to succeed if it means saving the world, but that also means these kids you’ve grown to care for over the course of the novel would die, and you don’t want that. While I was reading it I feared it would be one of those novels that you read in one go just to see what the mystery is, then would never think about again once you got the answers. That isn’t the case. Harbinger is a thrilling read with more to offer than just the mystery and I’ll definitely read it again in the future, and I look forward to more of Etienne’s works.