Cover The Raging Ones: A purple and black background of clouds and stars with the book title across the front

About the Book

Title: The Raging Ones (The Raging Ones #1)
Published: 2018

Cover Story: Cover Not Final
BFF Charm: Eventually, Yay x2
Talky Talk: He Said, She Said
Bonus Factors: LGBTQ, Emotional Bonds, Fear Of The Unknown
Relationship Status: Solid First Date

Cover Story: Cover Not Final

Oh, wait, you mean this is the final version? Hmm. This doesn’t feel finished or very representative of the book. Yes, it’s a book about trying to get into space but space itself is very incidental until the end. And I see where they were going with the purple clouds (which block all sight of the sky), but it’s repeated many times that they are lilac clouds, and last I checked lilac is a light purpley-gray. If I were to make this cover, I would go with a white and lilac winter vibe, after the world they live in. Take notes, paperback version.

The Deal:

This is it for Franny Bluecastle. Her deathday is upon her. Seventeen years is not much of a life, at least not according to the Influentials (those who live past 29 and sometimes even into their 100s), and she’s spent her Fast-Tracker years working hard and playing hard. So it doesn’t come as a grand surprise that she’s going to die out in the cold, snow-covered streets by herself. But then, the day after her deathday…she opens her eyes.

Court Icecastle and Mykal Kickfall know Franny’s secret—because it’s theirs too. All three teens have dodged their deathdays with no sensible explanation why, but the simple act of still breathing has fundamentally changed them. They are in each other’s heads, able to feel one another’s physical sensations and emotions, right down to the food they eat and the nightmares they dream about.

Theirs is a harshly divided world between those who have time and those who don’t; those who will freeze in the never-ending winter and those who can afford to warm themselves with a product that covers their world in a perpetual smoky haze. Court knows that to live in this world beyond their deathdays would involve unpleasant outcomes like torture and experimentation. He has dreams beyond this dying world, to get himself and Mykal—and now, Franny, too, apparently—onto the Saga 5 space mission with StarDust (the world’s only technological agency that has the power to see beyond the smoke and find the stars). Can he make them into astronauts in time? And with all the secrecy surrounding this mission, it begs the question: just where exactly would they be going?

BFF Charm: Eventually, Yay x2

BFF Charm with a sweatband on

Court Icecastle got his name because he was in Vorkter prison, a place where most people go to die. Instead, he escaped and found Mykal Kickfall through their new and strange bond. Court is close-lipped about his past, and singularly focused on getting into StarDust to the exclusion of everything else, including people’s feelings. He’s a person with some trauma in his life, but his prideful exterior makes him a tough nut to crack.

2 BFF charms

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Mykal Kickfall is a sweetheart. He’s confident in who he is, and that is not a person who wears silks instead of pelts and uses a thing called a bread plate. But he knows what is at stake (see: their lives), and has spent two years trying his hardest to take in Court’s lessons about being an Influential so he can fool his way into StarDust. He accepts Franny right away and even cares deeply about prickly Court.

Franny is freewheeling at the beginning of the book. She had a very specific expectation for her life, and she has no idea who to be if she isn’t defined by dying at seventeen. She’s also saddled with two very intense (in very different ways) people who can sense her emotions and make her ribs feel creaky when they practice their hand-to-hand combat (on each other, the loons). But Franny’s rough-and-tumble life has made her fairly adaptable and non-judgmental, and more than a little lonely for true human connection. 

Swoonworthy Scale: 4

You may be worried that this was a YA Love Triangle book thanks to this feelings-sharing between the three protagonists, but never you fear—there is none of that nonsense here. Mykal and Court have pants-feelings for each other, but it’s messy: they didn’t know each other until the link was already in place, and physical touch heightens the connection, blurring the lines between their sense of individual identity. Franny appreciates the trio’s bond in a purely platonic fashion, for which I was extremely grateful. She does get a few moments with another character that may build into something in the next book, but it was very early stages.

Talky Talk: He Said, She Said

It only makes sense to alternate viewpoints for each character when they’re already roaming around inside one another’s minds. Each person felt distinct, for the most part, and I liked the conflict that arose between the character’s inner intentions and their external personalities (their bond allows for them to sense feelings, so it can be impossible to lie to each other, but they can’t necessarily read each other’s private thoughts). This was a long book, and by the time it finished I was left feeling a bit perplexed when I tried to desribe it to my husband (boy, did he regret casually asking what I was reading). Was it a character study? Dystopia? Part sci-fi boarding school, part Tri-Wizard-Cup-style competition? So much time was spent on Franny, Mykal, and Court working on their new friendship and discussing how they would get into the Saga 5 selection pool that the book was already two-thirds over by the time it actually happened. Don’t get me wrong—I wasn’t bored during these quiet parts, or wishing it would hurry on, but it simply isn’t a book that can be pinned down to one sort of thing.

My impression of this fictional world was filled in with pretty broad strokes; I didn’t feel there was any one area of knowledge that was particularly lacking, so I’m wondering if perhaps this was the point. I basically knew as much as the main characters, but I got the sense that there is a LOT more going on under the surface that will ultimately flip the script. The second book is where we’ll see if this was an intentional move on the authors’ part or…not.

Bonus Factor: LGBTQ

Pride flag being waved in a parade

Not a lot of fuss seems to be made about sexuality in this society. The obstacles in Mykal and Court’s relationship are more about their strange link than anything external. I don’t even think it’s explicitly mentioned if both knew they were gay before their bond or if these feelings are new for either of them; they just are who they are, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  

Bonus Factor: Emotional Bonds

Ron Burgundy crying into the phone

Learning that the authors are twins makes this emotional bonding plot device make a lot of sense. Twins are often said to have an unexplainable connection IRL and this seems like the authors’ way of exploring that in a sci-fi setting. Sometimes it sounds kinda cool, like when you are allergic to things and your partner isn’t, so you can taste the sweet, sweet deliciousness of ice cream sans stomach cramps through them. But what if they hate the food you love? You’ll try to eat it and feel them gagging; no bueno. Also, there are plenty of other downsides, like…they know what you’re doing and feeling during sexytimes (the alone and with-a-partner kinds). Awkward.

Bonus Factor: Fear Of The Unknown

A man walking to the edge of a pier that fades into the mist

Franny is completely terrified of what life looks like now that she is going to live for an indeterminate amount of time. Is that car over there going to crush her? Will this rickety ceiling cave in on her head? Maybe this cheese she’s about to eat will choke her! It is kind of amusing (and, I suppose, panic-inducing) to realize how many ways you can die in a day, and that this is just how we normally live our lives. We’re so used to the low-level stress of danger that it becomes background noise (and I’m sorry in advance; try not to think about this too much or you won’t want to get out of bed tomorrow).

Relationship Status: Solid First Date

I’m not ready to scribble our names together inside a heart just yet, Book, but our first date was a good start. You took me to interesting places I’d never been and intrigued me with your quiet intensity. I’d be totally willing to give you a second date. Call me, okay?

Literary Matchmaking

The Final Six (The Final Six #1)

Alexandra Monir’s book, The Final Six, also takes a look at the competition for a spot in a humanity-saving space mission.

Unspoken (The Lynburn Legacy #1)

Looking for more metaphysical and mental gymnastics between two hot teenagers? Sarah Rees Brennan’s Kami and Jared hear one another inside their heads and definitely did not ask for this particular (sexy) bond in Unspoken, the first in the The Lynburn Legacy series.

Midnight at the Electric

Jodi Lynn Anderson’s Midnight at the Electric is another book that starts off focusing on teens-going-to-space (Side note: Is this YA’s new vampires?) but ends up being a lot more about humanity and our connection to one another. Also, it’s just beautiful.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from Wednesday Books. I received neither money nor peanut butter cups in exchange for this review. The Raging Ones is available now.


Stephanie (she/her) is an avid reader who moonlights at a college and calls Orlando home. Stephanie loves watching television, reading DIY blogs, planning awesome parties, Halloween decorating, and playing live-action escape games.