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Meridian [Hardcover]

Amber Kizer
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug. 11 2009
Half-human, half-angel, Meridian Sozu has a dark responsibility.

Sixteen-year-old Meridian has been surrounded by death ever since she can remember. As a child, insects, mice, and salamanders would burrow into her bedclothes and die. At her elementary school, she was blamed for a classmate’s tragic accident. And on her sixteenth birthday, a car crashes in front of her family home—and Meridian’s body explodes in pain.

Before she can fully recover, Meridian is told that she’s a danger to her family and hustled off to her great-aunt’s house in Revelation, Colorado. It’s there that she learns that she is a Fenestra—the half-angel, half-human link between the living and the dead. But Meridian and her sworn protector and love, Tens, face great danger from the Aternocti, a band of dark forces who capture vulnerable souls on the brink of death and cause chaos.

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About the Author

Amber Kizer is not one of those authors who wrote complete books at the age of three and always knew she wanted to be a writer. She merely enjoyed reading until a health challenge forced her to start living outside the box. She lives in the Seattle area on a veritable Noah’s Ark—without the big boat and only some of the rain. For more information about Amber, check out www.amberkizer.com.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

CHAPTER 1

I got up the morning of December twenty-first anticipating a four-day weekend for the Christmas holiday. I went to a snotty private prep school that took breaks the way most people went to the dentist—?only when they really, really had to.

Which was why I had school on the twenty-first, my sixteenth birthday. My parents refused to let me skip. It was a typical, normal day. For me “normal” meant that my stomach churned so much I swallowed Tums by the roll, and never went anywhere without Advil. I used Visine to keep my eyes clear; without it, looking in the mirror meant seeing the eyes of a lifetime alcoholic. I kept a stash of Ace bandages and braces in my locker at school.

I coped. I studied. I kept up the facade, but I desperately needed a break. Time to sleep late. Time to eat too much and catch up on painting my nails with glitter. Time to stop faking it and be myself, even if no one noticed. Time to dye my hair again—currently it was the obnoxious red of tomato juice. I figured black would be a nice way to start the New Year. It fit my mood. There were also a bunch of new DVDs I wanted to watch. Movies about girls my age having crushes and friends and being absolutely, completely normal.

I tucked my requisite white cotton blouse into my perfectly pleated tartan skirt. I applied thick black eyeliner and three coats of mascara, as if I could make the bruises beneath my eyes an accessory, then painted on clear lip gloss. I tugged at the opaque tights I wore, pushing our dress code to the limit. I didn’t mind uniforms. At least I was part of a group for once in my life. But I hated looking like a little Lolita. I stared at my reflection, hoping to see answers. Wishing I saw the solution to my life.

The phone shrilled: once, twice. I tossed my toothbrush into the sink and grabbed the hallway extension. The phone never rang for me, but I always answered it, hoping.

“Hello?”

Silence. Breathing. Murmuring.

“Hello?” I repeated.

Mom appeared at the top of the stairs. “Who is it?” Concern deepened the lines on her face, aging her.

I shrugged at her, shook my head. “Hello?”

She yanked the phone cord out of the wall, breathing fast, suddenly wild-eyed and pale.

Dad raced up the stairs, clearly just as upset. “Another one?”

Mom’s fist clenched the cord and she fiercely wrenched me into her arms. What the hell?

“What’s going on?” I let her hold me as she caught her breath. My dad kept petting my hair. For the last five years, they hadn’t touched me except for accidents or unavoidables. Now they didn’t seem to want to let go.

“It’s started.” Dad was the first to step away.

“What’s started?” I pushed away as the downstairs phone rang.

“We’ll talk more after school. You have a big test today.” I recognized the stubborn expression on Mom’s face.

Dad pressed her shoulders, rubbed her neck like he always did when she was upset. “I think we should—”

“No, not yet. Not yet,” Mom chanted.

“What is going on?” I felt fear sizzle in my spine.

“Rosie?—” Dad cradled Mom’s cheek with one hand and reached for me.

“After school,” Mom said firmly. “Be careful today, extra careful.”

“Why don’t you tell me why?” I asked. “Is this about turning sixteen? I can wait to get my license for a few months. I mean, I’d like to drive, but if you’re this scared we can talk about it.”

Mom smoothed my hair, shaking her head. “After school.”

I shrugged and looked to my father for guidance. His expression told me he wouldn’t break rank. “Is it boys? I’m not dating; it’s not like there’s a guy—”

Mom cut me off. “Do you want pancakes?”

I never eat breakfast. “No, that’s okay. I should catch the bus or I’ll be late.” What else can there be? My grades are excellent.

“Mer-D!” Sammy launched himself at me. As a toddler he’ d given me a nickname that stuck, so even now that he was six, I was still his Mer-D. “Happy birthday! I got you a presie. I got you a presie. Wanna know? Wanna know?” He danced with a maple syrup–covered fork, Jackson Pollocking every surface with stickiness.

“Later, Sammy. After school, okay? With cake?” I adored him. Loved him with the unconditional love I’d never received, except from him. He wasn’t afraid of me. He’d pretend to blow up the dead things with his Lego men or pose them in little forts, like caricatures of life.

“Cake, cake, makey-cakey.” He pranced around, his face split in a grin.

Turning back to my mom, “Why are you so freaked?” I dropped my voice so Sammy wouldn’t hear me.

Dad answered for her. “There is something we need to discuss when you get home, but it can wait.”

“Are you sure?” I pressed. I hadn’t ever seen either of them this anxious.

“You don’t want to miss your bus.” Mom hovered. She’d been swinging from overprotective to distant for the past few months. There was an almost tangible distance between us. I’d catch her scrutinizing me, like she was trying to memorize my DNA.

“You have everything you need?” She stared at me, patted my hair, and tucked an errant curl behind my ear. She always made me want to shake my head and mess up my curls even more. Mom gave me a pathetic, sad smile. She didn’t say anything else.

“Fine. Yep.” I shrugged her off, marching out of the kitchen feeling like a kid at an adults-only party, pissed that they wouldn’ t just tell me what was going on. Secrets made me feel small and insignificant. There was a vibe I couldn’t place. I slid my backpack on.

Dad strode out from the kitchen. “Meridian, wait.” He drew me to him, hugging me so tight that breathing was a challenge.

“Dad?” I leaned away, confused.

At least Sammy wasn’t acting strange. He was playing with the Lego set he’d opened the day before, on his birthday. My mom, brother, and I were all born within a day or two of one another.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A different kind of paranormal fantasy July 27 2010
By Karoline TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Meridian Sozu is different. Very different. She's a Fenestra, a half human, half angel whose job is to guide people over to the 'other side' once they pass on. Since she was a young girl, she's had animals come to her and die. Meridian has always been surrounded by death. When a large car crash happens outside her home, she is sent to live with her Aunt and a mysterious boy named Tens. Meridian finds out who she is and learns she has to battle the Aternocti a group where they capture souls to cause chaos.

It took me a while to get into this book, however I liked the concept of the plot - which kept me going. I found as I kept reading, the more suspenseful and intriguing it got. I really did enjoy the storyline of a little town gone awry with the help of an over the top zealous religious leader who managed to get a strong grip on the town. It made the perfect background for the development of the story.

My favorite character was Meridian's Aunt (also named Meridian) she was filled with strength (despite her age) and she was a typical Grandma. She was lovable and everything about her was likable and endearing. Meridian, I noticed started developing personality characteristics like her Aunt, which I enjoyed reading. I didn't know what to think of her at first. It was more of a take it or leave it attitude towards her, but then she started to grow on me later.

What I also liked about this book is it has a lot to do with spirituality and most of the subject matter is what happens when you die. It goes into detail about it but I'm glad it does'nt add any religious aspect. It stays neutral and its' explanation of life after death is interesting.

I'd have to say I did enjoy reading the book once the plot caught my attention.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good but not without problems May 13 2010
By Nicola Mansfield HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Reason for Reading: I was attracted to the angel aspect of the story as I enjoy paranormals involving angels.

When Meridian turns sixteen her family has planned for her to be whisked away to live with "Auntie" for an undermined amount of time. It is here that she learns that she is only half-human, the other half is angel. In fact she is a Fenestra, a window to the 'other side' that the dead seek out, if she is near, to make their passing easier. Auntie is also a Fenestra and Meridian has been brought here to learn how to open and close the window properly without getting sucked in herself. But time is short and their evil opponents, the Aternocti will do anything to destroy Auntie and Fenestra before the information can be passed on.

The premise of this story is very exciting and I feel the book could have been so much more than it was. The only character I really connected with Meridian herself, even though there were plenty of times when her behaviour didn't quite ring true. I'm of two minds when it comes to this book. I feel as though my words will make the book sound worse than it was because I really did enjoy the story, became quite caught up in the plot and read the book quickly.

Besides the lack of fully developed characters my main irritant with the book were the religious issues. The author went to great pains to repeatedly let Meridian know that in (the book's) world their is no Christianity. Meridian would ask questions about Heaven and would be given answers like religions have many names for it. She'd ask about God and be told "the Creators are known by many names". This type of thing is mentioned so much you are hit over the head with it. And yet, the bad guys are masquerading as Christians.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Courtesy of Teens Read Too Dec 30 2009
Format:Hardcover
Meridian is a teenage girl who has seen a lot of death in her almost sixteen years. It has been a constant companion for her and she has no idea why - even small animals seem to die when they are near her. She spends most of her young life being feared by the kids around her, but that all changes as her 16th birthday nears.

On her way home from school, a tragic accident happens and she is forced to flee. She goes one way and her family another. She is sent to live with her namesake, an aunt whom she only knows from the quilts that she sent for all of Meridian's birthdays.

Once there she meets Tens, a mysterious boy who also lives with her aunt. Meridian is told that she is Fenestra, a descendant of Angels who sends souls on their way to the afterlife. She must learn to control her ability, because there are those who would use it against her.

Let me first say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The mythology of this story was entirely new for me as a reader. I felt that it was well thought out, had interesting characters, and kept me enthralled for the entire book. While I did enjoy everything about this book, I wish there had been more back-story on Tens.

I read that there is another book coming out and I hope it turns into a series, because it would be a definite auto-buy for me.

Reviewed by: Breia "The Brain" Brickey
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  86 reviews
35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deliciously different April 17 2009
By K. Kincy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I had the good fortune to win an ARC of MERIDIAN from someone who snagged it at the ALA Midwinter Conference. I read the book in nibbles and gulps, both wanting to savor it and make it last. MERIDIAN is the kind of book that my mind kept drifting to when I was trying to concentrate, or even when I was just shopping at the grocery store.

The best parts, for me: The character of Meridian, who manages to be both strong and vulnerable, mature and believably sixteen. Kizer pulls this off with Meridian's voice, I think, which reminded me a little of myself at that age. I really like how she explores her powers and the idea of death; Kizer handles these scenes with subtle, nuanced emotion, where a lesser author might stray into the melodramatic. Meridian's protector and love (as described in the blurb), Tens, came across refreshingly charming and flawed in the face of a slew of drop-dead gorgeous, brooding, and otherwise cardboard males in other young adult fantasy. Yes, he's mysterious, but not annoyingly so.

The weakest parts: At times I felt like the antagonist was just stuck in there to provide tension and didn't really have a good reason to show up so often. Even though the antagonist has a motive, it wasn't one I felt at a gut level. The ending, consequently, seemed somewhat flat, and also felt like a set up for a sequel. Also, the pacing felt a little uneven in the last half of the book; I wondered if these scenes were written more hastily than the earlier ones.

Overall, I found MERIDIAN to be deliciously different, not even bothering to tread into the realm of cliches, with great characters I could sympathize with and imagine outside of the book. I suspect MERIDIAN will be quite popular when it comes out. Highly recommended.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great start for a series Aug. 10 2009
By Morrigan Alexandros - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
This novel, written by Amber Kizer, is about a teenager named Meridian. She is not like everyone else. Dying animals seem to find their way to her. On her 16th birthday, her family leaves and sends her to her Auntie, who shares her same name. This is both for her and their safety. She soon learns she is a Fenestra, half angel-half human, and that her purpose is to help the dying transition their soul energy to that person's version of 'heaven'. But, she also learns there are dark forces after her. She must learn to transition the dying and learn a way to defeat the dark forces. Her quest is aided by Auntie, a great-aunt and also a Fenestra, and Tens, who is destined to be her Protector.

This book was pretty good. I read it in one day. The plot was not only interesting, it was gripping and the book had good dialogue. I honestly could not put it down. Thank God it was a fast read!

The mythology was well developed for a first book in a series. The author has announced a companion book to this one. I do not know if her plan if to develop a series, but she should! There is a lot of material to explore.

The protagonist was believable and interesting. I enjoyed reading about her. She seemed to grow onto her new role, maybe a bit too fast, and take the events happening relatively well. She proved to be a worthy heroine and extremely likable. Not very whiny either, like Bella in Twilight. (I liked Twilight though). Custos, a wolf, kinda-adopts Meridian and becomes her constant companion. I would love to learn more about Custos, is there something more about her, something magical/supernatural perhaps?

I wish Tens was fleshed out a bit more. I would like to learn more about him. He does seem to behave like any other boy, like Katy Perry's song Hot N Cold. Completely believable as a male character in my own humble opinion. ;-)

That said, there were some flaws with the book. The villain in the story, Pastor Perimo, seemed to lack a clear purpose and focus. In the end, he looked almost cartoonish in his actions and end-dialogue (the dialogue throughout the book was pretty good). I just think the villain should have been better defined and should have been given a bit more of a back-story. He, at times, seemed inconsequential.

At times the book was hard to follow and there were fluidity problems. It read as if the author had skipped a line of prose and we are missing an entire sentence, or paragraph, to tie things together.

The relationship between Tens and Meridian happened way too fast. I think it would have been better if this had happened over the period of 2 months, instead of 2 weeks. Also, Meridian's learning occurred way too fast.

Things wrap too quickly at the end, and too easily, as another reviewer said "too convenient." The coincidences at the end should just be called fate because it was just too convenient. It was even a bit predictable...all those business cards... I have the same issue with Amelia Atwater-Rhodes books. The events near the end were just too convenient.

I debated the rating for this book. It's between a 3 and a 4. While there are definitely some things to fix, it was intresting enough to keep me glued until the very end.

As a last note, the cover is excellent.

UPDATE of 8/21/2009: I e-mailed the author about the possibility of a series; I had to know. She replied and told me that she is currently writing the companion book, to be published sometime in 2011. She said that there is possibility for a series and that "there are lots of Fenestras in training fighting Noctis all over the world." I guess it all depends on the sales and the response that this book gets. Her publisher is Random House.

UPDATE of 9/26/2010: Title for the new book is Wildcat Fireflies.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark and intriguing June 30 2009
By The Compulsive Reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Meridian has never been normal. She is constantly surrounded by dying things--insects, small animals, and on the day of her sixteenth birthday, a girl dies in a deadly accident right in front of her. Immediately after that, her parents whisk her away from her home and send her to Revelation, Colorado to live with her elderly great-aunt.

Once in Revelation, Meridian discovers the surprising truth about the death that surrounds her: she is a Fenestra, a link between the living and dead meant to lead the dying to the afterlife. But nothing is as simple as it appears-- with the help of her great-aunt and protector Tens, Meridian must learn to master her new talent before the evil Aternocti are able to get to her.

Meridian is a unique and very imaginative first book in what's sure to be an exciting new series. The whole book moves briskly as Meridian is bombarded with one surprise after another. The idea of generations of Fenestra and their evil counterparts, Aternocti, is an intriguing one, and though it's not explained quite as thoroughly as some may like, as the book goes on, more is revealed about the two, and their histories are caught up in a local, fanatical religious group. This makes for some interesting plot twists, and some slightly uneven pacing.
Meridian, however, is a very real, very tangible character, and her thoughts and feelings about death and her newly discovered powers are handled skillfully. Similarly, the male lead, Tens, is a realistic, fallible character that will still have female readers swooning.

Though many events that occur towards the end of the novel feel too convenient and there are a few confusing sequences, Meridian is a fast paced novel that will be popular with many teens, and the ending is set up nicely for a sequel. Kizer's latest is a dark, intriguing, and quick read filled with excellent imagery and fascinating tidbits of information that will have readers vying for a sequel.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark, disturbing, engaging Aug. 2 2009
By Tracy Rowan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Meridian Sozu kills things. At least that's what she believes. For as long as she can remember, she's been a kind of miniature grim reaper, her path littered with the corpses of living creatures who have died in her presence. She is something of a pariah among other children her age, and understandably so, but even her parents seem to hold back around her. Only her baby brother accepts her completely and seems to love her unreservedly. On her sixteenth birthday, her world changes forever.

Meridian is a Fenestra. She doesn't kill, rather she is a kind of window. She facilitates the passage of souls into the afterlife. Unfortunately her parents, who have known this all along (Fenestras come from hereditary Fenestra lines.)have never told her what she is or that when she comes into her full power on her sixteenth birthday, she will have to leave them, perhaps forever, and be trained to do what she was born to do without it killing her.

I have to say that I was captivated by this story; in spite of the teenage protagonist and a storyline that remains a little simplistic, the book is still sophisticated enough to be enjoyed by adult readers. It's quite dark in many ways, a touch political, and it presents a mythology which meshes nicely with a number of spiritual beliefs. The story flows smoothly, making it fodder for a marathon read. I began it around midnight and, had I not had to get up early the next morning, I probably would have read straight through.

That doesn't mean I don't have some quibbles with it. I found the portraits of her family sketchy, and disappointing particularly in terms of how they dealt with Meridian. They let her go sixteen years thinking that she kills living things by her very presence, not just by not reassuring her that the constant parade of dead things is not her fault, but apparently by withholding the sort of physical contact Meridian craves. They keep her utterly ignorant of the fact that there are agents of dark forces who will try to kill her or worse. They never bother to tell her that one day they will have to give her up, perhaps forever. Instead, on the morning of her sixteenth birthday, knowing that these dark forces are getting closer, they still send her off to school with a promise that they'll explain everything when she gets home. You have to know that's not going to end well.

I really don't know why Kizer made the choices she did in terms of Meridian's parents, but they come across as ciphers at best and at worst, terrible parents without whom she is much better off. Unfortunately it also robs the book of some of its emotional impact. I have a suspicion that this is the first of a series of books about Meridian -- I hope I'm correct about this, but there's no indication either in the book's blurbs or that I've found on Kizer's website -- and I hope that if I'm right, Kizer will allow Meridian to deal with her upbringing at some point.

The story of Meridian's training with Auntie and Tens, and the situation in the town where she's been sent is still satisfying enough that I was willing to overlook any shortcomings in terms of characterization. Along with a decent coming-of-age story, Kizer gives us a Big Bad who is frightening, particularly in terms of the current state of world politics, and a sweet, if low-key, love story. Its conclusion works for me, which is the ultimate test of a story.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Decent June 25 2010
By small review - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Meridian has always attracted the dying. Ever since she was a little girl, animals have sought her out in order to die in her presence. Meridian and her family take this in stride until her sixteenth birthday brings a paranormal attack that threatens Meridian's life. Her parents quickly pack her up and send her to her grandmother's house with the promise of safety and answers upon her arrival. Meridian soon learns she is destined to assist the dying as they cross over to the other side. Rounding out the story is her romantic protector Tens, and a power-tripping evil priest bent on thwarting Meridian's efforts and corrupting her by turning her to his dark side.

This story was a solid 3  stars. The main character was ok, nothing special, but not annoying either. Her love interest is about the same, though the truth about his mysterious past is hinted to be explained further in a possible sequel. Her grandmother was over the top cliché, but she was also nice to read about. The bad guy was just over the top laughably bad, and not in a good way. The book kept me entertained while I was reading it, but I'm not chomping at the bit for the sequel. The author has a decent plot but needs to work on character development a little more.
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