4 out of 4 stars
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What if Earth was just a school for souls?
In the book Enlightened by Billie Kowalewski, readers are transported into a fantasy world based on souls and reincarnation. Veronica has spent the last five years of her life mourning her soulmate's death. After she starts having incapacitating headaches, she wonders what she is going to do with the rest of her life. She visits her boyfriend's grave, but she never makes it home. To her surprise, she sees her soulmate Seth sitting in front of her when she wakes up! At first she is ecstatic, but then she regains her memories.
Veronica is just a reincarnation of Harmony, a soul who has gone to Earth several times with her class. Her soulmate in her past life's real name is Kaleb. He's the boy who keeps causing her to die early every time she returns to Earth, and she hates him for it. She wants to just be able to have at least one successful life on Earth without Kaleb messing it up.
This book has been one of the best YA fantasy novels that I have read in a long time. From the start, this book draws you in. I couldn't stop reading it once I started it! The pacing was fast enough to be engaging, but not fast enough for me to forget what was going on in the storyline.
This story also has some of the best worldbuilding that I have read in a YA novel. Even though the book cycles through Harmony's lives on Earth and her life at the school, both are described in details. I really got a feel for how the Earth school worked, with the teachers and mentors. I am very bad at visualizing scenes in a novel, but I could visualize almost every single scene in this one. It really surprised me!
My absolute favorite part of this book was seeing Harmony's growth. Earth is truly supposed to be a school for souls, and she did learn lessons while there. It was nice to see the souls come back from Earth and apologize for things that happened there, growing from the experiences that they had there. Even if they had been horrible to each other while on Earth for some reason, they were able to make up while back at the school. None of the characters in this story were boring or "unimportant."
Harmony's lives on Earth were my second favorite parts of the book. What was interesting was that Harmony didn't always go back into the same time period. Sometimes she was in the 1900s, and sometimes she was in the 1800s. As a person who also enjoys historical fiction, I was simply more engaged with the story being written this way. The time periods were even historically accurate!
My least favorite part of the book was the fact that it ended on a cliffhanger. I typically don't like books that end on a cliffhanger, as I want to feel completely accomplished after reading. Nevertheless, I loved this book so much that I want to pick up the next installment of the series right away! The cliffhanger just encourages me to pick it up faster.
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. There were no editing errors that I could see, the storyline was engaging and addictive, the worldbuilding was perfect, the pace was perfect, and Harmony was a unique main character. I look for all of these things in novels, and usually, I would be disappointed in at least one category. This book had it all!
I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a new addictive YA fantasy unique a very unique storyline, 3-dimensional characters, and excellent world-building.
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