A Whole New Crowd
I've been putting off reviewing this book for a few days because it's difficult to explain my thoughts on it. Like, I loved it, I've yet to read a Tijan book I didn't love...but it's complicated.Summary: Taryn grew up in a different world. Her boyfriend was a criminal. His older brother was part of a gang. They weren’t great people, but they were her family. Then everything changes when she’s adopted by a family in the neighboring town. New family. New friends. A new world. She’s elated. This is her chance for a new beginning, but secrets start being revealed and Taryn learns her new life has ties to her old one, ties that she’s not happy about. Her new family might not have been the lucky break she thought she had. Now she's not only fighting to live that new future, but she's fighting to survive as well.
So I'm going to sum up what I love about the story then I'll explain where it gets complicated, for anyone that's interested, but the summary/rating is kind of all you need to know about my thoughts on the book.
The story is one of those ones that hooked me right from the start. It's full of drama, but in a good way and has one of those sort of unrealistic but thoroughly entertaining plots that are perfect if you want to lose yourself in a world that is real but not at all like your own (if you like stories with a crime/drug lord/gang kind of thing going on, this one might do it for you).
And the characters...like most of Tijan's books, it has a strong protagonist who is fierce and stands up for herself and the people she cares about. That's one of my favourite things about her books--the way she writes her female leads, because she makes them strong women without going over the top (like, they're independent and can stand on their own but they're not too proud to say when they don't want to).
Plus, there's a bunch of other characters that I loved without necessarily liking them. They were interesting, and interesting is kind of better than likeable (a lot of her characters were shades of gray, instead of being all bad or all good, they were mostly varying degrees of both and I like that). I really liked the relationship between Tray and Taryn too and the relationship she had with her sister.
I'd rate the book 4 stars out of 5 (well, this version of it... I'll explain that below) and I'd really recommend any of Tijan's books if you're looking for something fast paced and addictive.
The complicated part:
I've mentioned a bunch of times on the blog that I'm a big fan of Tijan's books and I read a lot of them while they were still posted on Fictionpress or Livejournal. I read A Whole New Crowd years ago online and adored it--I think it's definitely one of her best stories.
It's hard to separate the two versions in my head and it's hard not to make comparisons between the two (kind of like watching a movie adaptation of a favourite book). That's why it was so difficult to review the final published version.
This version was good and it still had most of the elements that I loved about the original story... except for one of the main things that made me love it in the first place (most of the other changes didn't register with me beyond the feeling that something was different).
In the original, Taryn's relationship with Jace was more complex...but in a good way. I loved Jace's character and their relationship in the original, it was one of the most interesting parts of the story. That relationship--and by extention, Jace's character--was changed in the published version (and it made the Tray/Taryn thing feel different too).
Because I'd already read that different version of their relationship, it made reading this one feel weird. I think for that reason, I preferred the original version and that kind of clouded my judgement of this.
The overall story in this version was probably better, but it just didn't have the same spark for me without the Jace stuff. But that's a completely subjective thing, and most people probably didn't read the old version first so they'll go into the published one with fresh eyes and can judge it without the comparisons.
So yeah, that's why it was hard to review this. I loved one version of the story and loving that version stopped me from really loving this one to the same extent. I think if it weren't for that, this would've probably been a 4.5 or 5 star book, because I did still thoroughly enjoy reading it.
EDIT: Tijan has put the original version up for sale too, I think it's the same one I originally read and loved (haven't had a chance to reread it). It's a rougher version than the one I reviewed here, but worth reading. You can find it by searching Amazon for The Original Crowd by Tijan.