Found (Penny Black #1) by Stacey Wallace Benefiel
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Penny Black hasn’t had it easy. Just about everything you’d expect to happen to a harassed foster-kid turned junkie has happened to Penny. Add in the mysterious power to rewind time, conducting events around her, and it’s a wonder she held up on the streets for so many years. Now, at seventeen, the New Society has found her. Finally, Penny is where she belongs. But that doesn’t stop the visions, or the need to protect the victims shown to her.
Wyatt Adams is excited and intrigued when his sister Melody assigns him to be Penny’s Lookout. Being the youngest, and hopelessly ordinary in the family that created the New Society, has left Wyatt feeling like he has a lot to prove — and Penny is a big deal. She’s got abilities that surpass any he’s seen before…and pretty much every quality he looks for in a girlfriend, but no one needs to know about that, especially Penny.
So I was not aware until I wrote this review that this is a companion series to a different trilogy. That makes so much sense and I feel a lot better now about my reaction to what I was reading. The book itself is very well written; the characters are interesting, the plot moves along nicely and is full of suspense, and the sci-fi elements were well developed. So I was very confused as to why the author would just barely touch on who people were (especially since the names were pretty confusing) and barely explain some rather important things. So I spent most of the first half of this book very confused.
BUT now that I know it’s a companion novel, I feel sort of like an idiot. Found is an exploration of a new character, Penny, and her Lookout Wyatt. I assume Wyatt played at least a small part in the Zellie Wells Trilogy (which I now know is the original series). So all of the questions I had concerning other characters that were sort of breezed over must be answered in the trilogy.
All of that being said, I really did enjoy Found, regardless of my confusion. Penny is sassy and very damaged, and I thought she was a cool heroine that was easy to like. I did feel a bit like she gave in too easily at the beginning where they convince her to go the New Society. I mean, people with weird powers are all like, come to our school, we want to help you! To a girl who’s been abused all her life? I feel like she would have put up more of a fight.
Wyatt was sweet and quite likeable. He was different in the sense that he was completely ordinary; this doesn’t happen much in YA/NA literature. I thought it was admirable of him to attempt to keep their relationship very business like, even though we all knew where it was heading. Their relationship developed quickly, which I also thought was either unbelievable for a girl who’d been abused all her life, or hitting the nail on the head. Wyatt takes good care of Penny, so I can see how he’d be very attractive to her.
There are some good and interesting secondary characters that I’m sure I would be far more excited about if I had read Zellie Wells. But I enjoyed them anyway, and Wyatt’s friends and the adults were good additions to the cast of characters. I would be interested in seeing more of them.
Half of the book deals with a suspenseful situation that is rather dire and gets worse as the book goes on. The tension continued to build on the same conflict, keeping me fully engaged. Many of the characters use their powers at every turn, emphasizing the sci-fi side of the story.
In the interest of full disclosure I feel the need to say that there are multiple gay couples in this book. The main couple is obviously not, but at one point I actually counted the couples because I thought there were more gay couples than straight. There’s nothing graphic or anything between any of the couples (except maybe our main hero and heroine). And humorously enough, when Ben and Connor were introduced I couldn’t tell if Connor was a guy or a girl, so I was just kind of guessing.
I felt like everything moved along almost too quickly, and that some of the story could have been fleshed out a little better. Penny seemed to develop friends at the school super fast, and adjusting to that life in record time. That doesn’t seem likely to me since she’s been on the run for most of her life. This along with my confusion about it being a companion novel were the biggest downsides for me. But again, I really enjoyed reading it.
And then the ending happened, making me EXTREMELY interested in the next book.