Book Review: Culture Shock by Jeanette Pekala

CoverTitle: Culture Shock
Author: Jeanette Pekala
Genre: YA Paranormal Mystery
Age Group: Young Adult
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon (Kindle), Amazon (Paperback), B&N
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

CULTURE SHOCK is a witty tale of mystery and romance with a large helping of southern hospitality.

Macy Holmes is a seventeen-year-old socially-isolated introvert since her best friend’s death a year ago. When her family decides to move from Manhattan to the quaint country town of Bougainvillea, Florida, Macy finds she’s in a completely different world. Macy is no longer the outsider hiding behind designer clothes when she is sought out by three strange students, one of whom she is particularly interested in. The more time she spends with Chad the more things don’t add up. When his true identity is finally revealed, Macy is pulled into a supernatural society with its saturation of inhabitants residing in Bougainvillea.

You would think she has enough on her plate, but no, then her dreams become infiltrated by an external magical force, Macy and her band of supernatural misfits must find the culprit behind the magic-induced nightmares. The must dodge zombie assassins, shift shape-shifters and high school bullies in order to stop this perpertrator before Macy, her friends or her parents pay the ultimate price. Espeically when Macy has the sneaking suspiciion that these dreams are reality..

I didn’t know what to expect when I began reading Culture Shock. It’s a fairly large book – it was 676 pages in my reader – especially considering it’s target audience. The word count could’ve been cut down, and the book would be just as strong, if not stronger, with about 100 pages less text. There were some grammar and other errors scattered throughout the text, but they didn’t annoy me too much. They did stop my reading flow every now and then, but I could live with that because the story, the plot and the characters hooked me.

Macy, our main character, has been an introvert ever since her best friend died about a year ago. Her family decides to move away from the big city, partially to give Macy a new, fresh start. They move to a quaint country town named Bougainvillea, where Marcy finds herself in a completely different world than the one she’s used to. She begins hanging out with a strange crowd of people, who seem to be hiding more secrets than Macy cares for. One of these is Chad, a guy Macy could’ve liked, if it weren’t for how strange things seem to happen everywhere he’s at. Macy is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery of what’s going on in her new home town, never grasping that it may have something to do with an underground supernatural society in the middle of Bougainvillea.

This book has it all, from zmbie assassins to shape-shifters to vampires, and I loved the creative mix of ‘big baddies’ all thrown into this one story. Macy made for an intriguing main character, especially because she started out introverted, and gradually opened up toward others as the story progressed. She also seemed like your typical teenager. I find that often, in young adult books, the way teenagers act is either like adults stuck in a teenage body (so, too mature) or like little kids stuck in a teenage body (too immature). Of course, not all teenagers are the same, and some are more (im)mature than others, but Macy’s personality actually fit in with what your average teenager is like, and she reminded me of my cousins (who are now in their early teens).

The setting was vibrant and lively, filled with elements that seemed fitting for the south, and Bougainvillea was a town with a fascinating history and look, even though I had trouble getting used to the name at first. The supernatural society Jeanette Pekala creates in the middle of this quaint country town works fascinatingly well, it is some sort of sub-society with its own set of rules, vaguely reminding me of the Caster-society in the “Caster Chronicles” series by Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia. Just like the Caster society, the supernatural society in Bougainvillea just works. It’s well-developed and thought through.

I liked the secondary characters as well, particularly Chad. He was the right mix of mysterious and caring, and I loved most, if not all, of his scenes.

Overall, Culture Shock provides a detailed, imaginative world where normal and supernatural live together in a quaint, small town, a main character thrust in the middle of all this, and a dark magical force threatening to overwhelm her.

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