Review: Harbinger by Sara Wilson Etienne

Bought B&N
Published February 2, 2012
Amazon - Goodreads

Plagued by waking visions and nightmares, inexplicably drawn to the bones of dead animals, Faye thinks she's going crazy. Fast. Her parents beleive Holbrook Academy might just be the solution. Dr. Mordoch tells her it's the only answer. But Faye knows that something's not quite right about Dr. Mordoch and her creepy, prisonlike school for disturbed teenagers.

What's wrong with Holbrook goes beyond the Takers, sadistic guards who threaten the student body with Tasers and pepper spray; or Nurse, who doles out pills at bedtime and doses of solitary confinement when kids step out of line; or Rita, the strange girl who delivers ominous messages to Faye that never seem to make any sense. What's wrong with Holbrook begins and ends with Faye's red hands; she and her newfound friends--her Holbrook "family"--wake up every morning with their hands stained the terrible brown of dried blood. Faye has no idea what it means but fears she may be the cause.

Because despite the strangeness of Holbrook and the island on which it sits, Faye feels oddly connected to the place; she feels especially linked to the handsome Kel, who helps her unravel the mystery. There's just one problem: Faye's certain Kel's trying to kill her--and maybe the rest of the world, too.

I hadn't even heard of Harbinger until a few weeks ago so I wasn't too sure what to expect out of it. All I knew was that it was a psychological thriller which took place at a school for troubled teens and that some people who read it thought it was fairly scary. Usually I'm the first person to admit if something keeps me up at night, but Harbinger luckily didn't scare me at all. Don't get me wrong, there were parts that definitely gave me goosebumps and were kind of spooky, but nothing to the point where I was scared while not reading the book.

The main character, Faye, was sent to Holbrook Academy after years of having trouble in school. We quickly learn that Faye has these intense visions where water fills the room which prevents her from breathing and sometimes leads to her blacking out. Another interesting thing about Faye is that when she makes eye contact with a person she is able to read their thoughts. I wished that there could have been more of Faye's unique mind reading ability in the book and not just it being mentioned in the beginning.

I'm still a little confused about what exactly happened during the ending of the book. Everything came all at once, which was both awesome and a little crazy at the same time. I predicted one part, but this other part just came completely out of nowhere, which was great! Although, I'm still confused how some parts of the story or even traits that Faye had fit into the story. I felt like I was missing a key piece to this puzzle.

Every student at Holbrook Academy is assigned a family which is who they eat lunch with and have their self improvement classes with. I really loved the family that Faye was in, Family Five. Each person of this family was just completely different from the other and offered a really awesome aspect to the story. It was great seeing how each one of them put up a wall and watching it come down. They were all supportive of each other, just like a real family, and it was amazing to see them stand by each other no matter what.

I still don't know how I feel about the ending. It left me a pretty confused and constantly flipping back to the previous pages to double check that I read everything right. I definitely wasn't expecting it and it pretty much was a shocker to me.

Amazing Quote:
And sometimes the world just gets too noisy for me and I can't filter is all out. 

Characters: 4/5
Creativity: 4/5
Voice: 4/5
Plot: 4/5
Impact: 3/5
Overall: 4/5

Overall, I thought Harbinger was a unique story with an absolutely incredible setting that had me feeling like I was stuck at Holbrook Academy with Faye and Family Five. The only downside to this book, for me, was that the ending left me fairly confused and with some unanswered questions. Harbinger is a great story for those who need a little mystery with a touch of thrill in their reading.


  1. Harbinger is pretty much everywhere lately, but this is the first review I've actually read! I wonder why they didn't make more out of Faye's mind-reading ability, because that sounds awesome. And the "family" aspect sounds so interesting. Now I want to read it just so I can see if I can make any sense of the ending... Thanks for a great review, Katie!

  2. Good review. I dislike ambiguous endings that leave me confused.

  3. Glad you enjoyed it Katie :) !! I'm actually not really sure if I'd like to read this one ...
    I love being surprised by endings .. well most of the time and I'm glad to know that this one has this type of endings :) !!
    Thanks for the review Katie :)

  4. Love that quote! I have heard some really great things about this book, glad you enjoyed it!

  5. M looking forward to getting hold of this book, it sounds really good :)