A review by Domoni.
When Courtney was seven years old, her grandfather, the person she adored the most, tattooed her and then tried to drown her. Two weeks later, crazy and raving about aliens, he kills himself in a bathtub. Now Courtney is 15 years old and still struggles with the trauma of her childhood. She is terrified of the dark and has nightmares about aliens, except when she’s awake they are still there. Her parents are divorced and Courtney’s father isn’t really interested in much; Courtney’s mother has no time or patience for what Courtney is going through, so she has her committed. Medication and a summer at Dad’s and Courtney is feeling better and has seen no aliens until she goes home and it all comes back. Courtney needs answers and when she meets the girl she thought was her imaginary friend, she may finally be on the path to find them. Is Courtney crazy like her grandfather, or are the aliens real and does her bloodline mean she is destined for more?
This is an interesting book that had me guessing the whole way through. Courtney is swept up into a conspiracy that is as old as time, or is it just delusion? Who can she trust, can she even trust herself? Courtney is a well-created character that evoked many emotions from me. I felt for her and it hurt my heart when her interactions with her cold mother broke her down. Courtney feels so alone and the only person she was close to who understood her is dead. She isn’t allowed to even talk about her grandfather and if she mentions her dreams, experiences or fears, she will just be sent back to the psych ward.
One constant from Courtney’s childhood was her imaginary friend Astra. As she got older, she saw her less though. Until she is in the psych ward and meets Agatha, who she knows is the girl she’s seen her whole life. Agatha doesn’t know who Courtney is, but she knows about the aliens. Agatha wants to help Courtney find out what the truth is. She also wants to know if Courtney has a part in her dreams of the apocalypse. Agatha is a strong character and I love the depth the author put into each one of his creations. I was invested in her as much as Courtney and enjoyed learning more about each girl.
The world created for this story was in-depth and easy to picture. I could easily imagine the abandoned mental hospital and the monastery the girls visit on their path to the truth. With simple yet vivid imagery, I was pulled through this story in a smooth and quick read. I did not want to put the story down once I had started. I liked that I could not predict what would happen or how it would end. I would gladly read more from this author.
My rating: 5/5 stars.
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The Alienation of Courtney Hoffman
by Brady Stefani
Genre: YA Psychological Thriller/Scifi
Release Date: June 7th 2016
Summary from Goodreads:
Fifteen year old Courtney wants to be normal like her friends. But there’s something frighteningly different about her—and it’s not just the mysterious tattoo her conspiracy-obsessed grandfather marked her with before he disappeared. She’s being visited in her bedroom at night by aliens claiming to have shared an alliance with her grandfather. And imaginary or not, they’re starting to to take over her mind. “Mental illness is a slippery slope,” her mother warns her.
The last thing Courtney wants to do is end up crazy and dead like her grandfather did. But what about the tattoo? And the aliens trying to recruit her? With her new alien-savvy friend Agatha and her apocalyptic visions, Courtney begins connecting the dots between the past, present and future—of her bloodline, and the ancient history that surrounds it. Is she going insane, like her family claims her grandfather did, or is she actually a “chosen one” with ancestral connections to another world? Either way, Courtney has a mission: untangle her past, discover the truth, and stop the apocalypse before it’s too late for everyone.
The Alienation of Courtney Hoffman was featured in Redbook Mag! Check it out HERE!
“A must read sci-fi book.”
– Hypable, Hypable.com fandom reviews
“A wild ride through portals to other worlds… This debut novel fuses a serious issue—the stigma of mental illness—with sci-fi to chronicle a girl’s unusual coming of age.”
– Kirkus Review
“This novel has a breakneck pace and Stefani’s writing is fluid and perfectly suited to this most extraordinary tale that blends coming of age, adventure, science fiction, and post-apocalyptic genres— and it all works beautifully.”
– Readers’ Favorite, Five Stars
“As the father of two teenage girls, I can tell you that Brady Stefani must have some sort of supernatural helmet that helps him think and write in their language. But The Alienation of Courtney Hoffman is much more than a novel for teens. This fast-paced adventure kept my attention, blazing back-and-forth from reality to an alter-world so close by that it’s creepy. Here’s a page-turner that captures a lot about childhood struggles through an imaginative story filled with surprises.”
-Jim Schaefer, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and writer for the Detroit Free Press
“Stefani’s The Alienation of Courtney Hoffman is a thought-provoking and emotional journey through a young girl’s mind as she struggles to understand who she is, where she came from, and who she is supposed to be—all while deciphering between reality and the tricks our minds can sometimes play on us. Stefani beautifully demonstrates how difficult life can be for anyone who thinks or acts a little differently, and reminds us that, more often than not, the things that terrify us the most are the things trying to save us.”
-Jessica Stevens, author of Within Reach
About the Author
Brady G. Stefani has a bachelor’s degree in creative writing, and a graduate degree in law. During law school, he spent time as an involuntary commitment caseworker for the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, where he interacted with patients suffering from severe thought disorders, including numerous patients presenting with subjectively real memories of being visited and abducted by alien beings (commonly referred to as alien abduction phenomenon). It was through his study of these patients, along with his own struggles with anxiety and cognition, that Stefani became aware of just how deceiving, mysterious, and powerfully resilient, the human mind can be.
In an effort to provide awareness of mental suffering, and spread hope to all those touched by it, Stefani is focused on writing YA novels that explore the experience of being different and the other-worldly places our boundary-less imaginations can take us. Alienation is his first novel. But with two works currently in progress, the journey has just begun.
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