Review: The Holders (Holders #1) by Julianna Scott

Review: The Holders (Holders #1) by Julianna ScottThe Holders by Julianna Scott
Series: The Holders #1
Published by Angry Robot on 2013-03-05
Pages: 320
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17-year-old Becca has spent her whole life protecting her brother – from their father leaving and from the people who say the voices in his head are unnatural. When two strangers appear with apparent answers to Ryland’s “problem” and details about a school in Ireland where Ryland will not only fit in, but prosper, Becca is up in arms.She reluctantly agrees to join Ryland on his journey and what they find at St. Brigid’s is a world beyond their imagination. Little by little they piece together information about their family’s heritage and the legend of the Holder race that decrees Ryland is the one they’ve been waiting for—but, they are all, especially Becca, in for a surprise that will change what they thought they knew about themselves and their kind.From the Trade Paperback edition.

The only reason why I read “The Holders” was because NetGalley gave me early access to “The Seers” and I didn’t realize it was the second book in a series until I got about five pages in. Oops. Let me tell you though, that was a happy accident. “The Holders” is an addictive read that left me wanting to know more about Becca and all of the secrets and mysteries she encounters.

“The Holders” does have elements that are similar to the X-Men universe. People have powers and go to a special academy and are lead by a man who can read minds. It didn’t bother me that much because, in the end, the stories are very different. But if things like that bother you, I’d read at your own risk. I think back to my review of “Hidden Chamber in the Great Sphinx” and how I hated the alien crystal skull knockoff. This book was different. I think Scott might have been influenced by X-Men but she didn’t really steal from it. The story is unique enough for me to be OK with her choices.

Despite the similarities to the X-Men franchise that I noted above, I really liked Scott’s world. You don’t see too many YA books set in Ireland so that was a real treat. The Irish countryside is the perfect mystical setting for this series.

The only thing I didn’t like was that female Holders are generally inferior and not as powerful as the men. I get that Scott threw that in there to make a big deal out of Becca’s powers, but it just didn’t set well with me. I’m really interested in the way popular culture portrays women and I find that additions like this one, where women are expected to be inferior in a supernatural world, end up setting us back a little … even if it’s used to show how powerful a female character really is. For me, the good intentions are inevitably ruined.

One of the more interesting bits of information that we learn is that Holders have weaknesses. Alex’s weakness is particularly endearing. When not wearing his sciath (usually a gem that keeps their powers and weaknesses in check), you can see every emotion that he feels. I got to thinking about that. How embarrassing would that be? Could you imagine trying to start a new relationship with all of your emotions on your sleeve? Horrifying.

Alex and Becca’s relationship felt sincere. They honestly care about each other. And, on the plus side, we know that they’re unlikely to break up. That’s a plus. But, I found Becca’s jump-t0-conclusions-anger-issues quite annoying. She’s protective, yes. But I think that her protective nature was written completely over the top. There’s a way to make a character protective without making your audience roll their eyes. But, I do think this is one of the hazards of writing a first-person narrative. Alex is a good foil for her because he’s so calm and collected.

I did find the plot a bit predictable but I’m not sure that’s a flaw on the author’s part. I think it’s just because I’ve read a lot of YA fantasy novels and can predict what comes next. So if you do predict what happens, give your reading habits some consideration. It’s like reading a lot of mystery novels and figuring out whodunnit before the end.

Overall, I couldn’t stop reading this book. Though some of the book’s elements are familiar, Scott combines them with very unique elements that make for a fantastic read. Alex and Becca have a unique love story. “The Holders” left this girl totally satisfied and excited to start the next book.


© 2014, Jessica Workman Holland. All rights reserved.