Author: Misty Provencher
Series: Cornerstone #1-3
Books: Cornerstone, Keystone, Jamb
Published: November 7th 2011
Nalena Maxwell has been branded ‘The Waste’ at her new school, due to her mom's obsessive paper hoarding. Nalena desperately wants something to change in her life, but when she receives a sign (and it's the wrong dang one) inviting her into a mysterious, ancient community, too much changes. What she knew of her family, what she thought of her life and what she believed about her future, is no longer applicable. Seventeen years worth of family skeletons come crashing into Nalena's life and it is the boy...the one that smiles at her like he wants to hear everything she'll ever say...that already knows her powerful secrets. But it is only Nalena that can choose between protecting the life that is already crumbling beneath her feet and the one that might sacrifice everything she could ever have.
This review is for the first three books in the Cornerstone series:
You know how there are indie authors who, by all rights, should be superstars? I heard that they have a secret club and that Misty Provencher is their club president. Her Cornerstone series is the most original YA I’ve read in a long time. YES! You read that right. The. Most. Original. And in a genre that is in desperate need of originality.
The Cornerstone series has been getting a lot of positive reviews, but I honestly didn’t expect to lose two nights of sleep over it, and yet I found myself fully awake at 4 am holding a cup of tea in one hand and gripping my Kindle with the other. I almost squeezed the life out of my poor Ferguson. Cornerstone, then Keystone, then Jamb, all in less than two days. Every time I dared to think that it couldn’t get any better, Misty Provencher took things a step further.
Looking back, out of the three books, Cornerstone seems to be the weakest link. Provencher didn’t rush her worldbuilding or character building in the first book, which was later repaid with the sheer brilliance of Keystone and Jamb. Her worldbuilding is, admittedly, of the sink-or-swim variety, but that is my favorite kind if the new information is timed right. I was able to discover the community alongside Nalena, and the way in which Provencher did it achieved two important goals: first, she eased me into an extremely complicated, multi-layered world; and second, the confusion I occasionally felt matched Nalena’s confusion, and that made it easier for me to identify with her and like her all the more.
Truth be told, Nalena and I didn’t get along at first. She appeared to be weak and tended to get dizzy and faint a lot, and her ability to stand up for herself left a lot to be desired. I’m afraid I have very little patience for delicate flowers and it seemed that Nalena would be just the type of character I can’t stand. But as the story progressed, she found her footing and she slowly became a different person altogether. This was perhaps most evident in her relationship with Garrett. She never allowed him to take over her life (not that he ever tried to), choosing to question her feelings and build her independence instead. Their relationship is a beautiful, mature thing, something we don’t get to see often enough. Instead of losing themselves in each other, Garrett and Nalena found a way to function as two individuals who happen to be together. The difference is subtle, but it’s present in every decision they make.
With two characters like Nalena and Garrett and a complex, ever-expanding world, a lesser author would probably neglect the secondary characters, but Misty Provencher did the exact opposite. Garrett’s family, Addo Larry, other Alos and Contegos, each of them will become your best friend by the time you’re done with the first two books. In am fully invested in each of these characters and every time something happens to one of them, I lose a small piece of my heart.
Of course none of these books is without editing issues. Homophones are often misused (their instead of they’re and so on), but if that’s the price I have to pay for such a wonderful read, I’m happy to pretend not to notice. I’m sure these will be smoothed out in time anyway since Misty seems to be an author who approaches her work with utter seriousness and professionalism.
Cornerstone is now $0.99 for Kindle. I recommend getting a copy as soon as you can, it is quite possibly the best buy you’ll ever make. My 4.5 star rating is for the entire series: there were a few things I wasn’t happy with (the cliffhanger at the end of Jamb bothered me most of all), but there were also several breathtaking, unforgettable five-star moments.