Banished

Banished  - Sophie Littlefield I didn't have any expectations coming into "Banished", as it was the first novel I'd ever read from Sophie Littlefield. Interestingly enough, this is her first YA novel branching off into a series of its own, apart from her adult novels. It was an interesting read full of well-developed, identifiable characters and harrowing scenarios, but I have to admit the story did throw me a little off base in the middle and with the expansion of where the Banished originated. I think the history had the potential to be rich, vivid, and identifiable, but in the presentation - it seemed to not quite execute itself as well as it could have.The story revolves around Hailey, a young woman with a remarkable yet cursed gift. She has the ability to heal people naturally, as evidenced when she heals a girl after an accident at school. From that point on, Hailey starts to question what she knows about her life, her family and it's only a matter of time when the truth comes colliding in - literally and figuratively. Hailey's home life is restrictive under Gram, the woman who even forbids her from participating in school sports, but Hailey's saving grace is in the wonderfully adorable Chub (who's a cute adopted toddler in the family). I definitely disliked Gram in the beginning of the story with respect to her activities and treatment of Hailey, but as the novel establishes her backstory, I did end up feeling sorry for Gram at least a little. I also liked Hailey's aunt, Prairie - she's a feisty character and well worth following as Hailey learns the truth behind her family's abilities and history. Prairie has an interesting backstory of her own, too, something we learn even from the beginning of the book until Hailey and her eventually meet up.There are some minor characters who are introduced late in the story that don't have a lot of time to develop, and unfortunately even with the dangerous situations they face late in the novel - it wasn't enough for me to connect with them fully though I liked the characters well enough (i.e. Anna and Kaz). The villains in the novel still feel a bit too distant to really make the reader see beyond a modest level of motive, but the situations they perpetuate are thrilling enough to hold reader interest. I thought it was a decent first novel in the YA measure, and well plotted, though still some areas where it left some loose ends and areas to smooth over. Nonetheless, it's held my interest enough to see what will happen in the next book, and eagerly anticipate it.Overall score: 3/5