Seventeen-year-old Claire Williams’ tough upbringing has taught her how to throw a punch or two to survive, especially when it involves a man’s unwanted attention. But her strength waivers when she visits Bodian Dynamics, a medical research facility, and stumbles upon classified information—someone has stolen a drug that not only changes a person’s appearance, but will also unleash a dark and evil alter ego.
After an intimidating security guard threatens the lives of her friends if she speaks to anyone about the incident, Claire pretends the drug never existed. That is until she meets Gage, a teenage boy who doesn’t seem to have a conscience and who is hell-bent on making her just like him by unleashing her dark side.
But Claire knows a secret—he can only die while in his normal state. And since Gage knows personal information about her, Claire thinks she knows who it is: either her best friend or her recent boyfriend. And once she figures out which boy Gage is hiding behind, she’s going to kill him, even if it breaks her heart.
I’ve always loved Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and I’m usually interested in YA takes on things, so of course I became quite eager when I learned of Rachel’s newest work. I must say, it didn’t disappoint me in any way!
C H A R A C T E R S & R E L A T I O N S H I P S
Claire. I really like Claire! She’s a teenage girl who, on the emotional spectrum, isn’t exactly typical. She’s already had to deal with quite a lot in the years prior to the book’s beginning, and her life just gets more complicated as time goes on, it seems! In most regards, though, I think she’s an ‘average’ teen… She has her interests, she doesn’t get along with her mother much, and she enjoys spending time with her friends. Her passion for singing and for the band in general is quite evident. (Slight spoiler warning) One thing I really love is how, despite Logan’s interest in her, it never turns into what I consider a ‘love triangle’ —- she doesn’t return his feelings when he first brings it up, and this remains a solid stance throughout the book. Her feelings for Ethan are quite real, as far as I’m concerned. Logan’s her best friend, but that’s it. And I’m so glad for that.
Logan. Very real, ‘typical’ teenage boy. His feelings for Claire are important, and they do play a role throughout the story (as seen when he talks to Ethan and Claire on their date at the restaurant), but they don’t override everything else. It’s not in any way overbearing, and I believe him when he claims that his friendship with Claire is more important.
Ethan. He, too, is what I’d consider ‘average’ and ‘typical’. I like the chemistry between him and Claire! It’s enough to make me at least support the idea of them as a couple, though I was constantly aware of how I prefer them as friends. Either way, Ethan’s a real sweetheart, and I’m glad Claire has him in her life to help her along.
Kate. I was quite indifferent to her at first, but I found her a bit annoying as the story went along. Honestly, I can’t pinpoint the exact reason(s). Anyway, I do like her excitement and dedication to the band. She’s a pretty good friend to Claire, too, and I earnestly believe she’s a strong source of support for her.
Steph. There’s not really much to say about Steph. The only things I can readily remember about her are that she’s the band’s drummer and she has a famous growl/scream that she does at the beginning of the show.
Albert. All we know of him until the big reveal is that he’s someone very close to Claire, he has a seriously screwed up home life, and he wants things to be different…so he makes them different.
There are others in the story, of course, but these are the ones I recall seeing the most.
P L O T
This story has a lot going on, that’s the first thing that one should note. I knew it going in, simply from the description, but I suppose it’s best to confirm! It deals with everyday teenage things as well as things that are darker, more complex, and much less common. McClellan does a great job of weaving these things together when it’s called for. As for who Albert/Gage is…well, you can guess… Until it was finally revealed, I bounced back and forth between the possibilities too many times to tally. McClellan’s absolutely fantastic when it comes to suspense; it’s never too heavy, but nothing was ever brushed aside as though it didn’t matter, as though it was nothing.
Great job, really. I was so excited about this book, and I was right to be! It didn’t disappoint, and it kept me on the edge of my seat, threatening to push me over. Rachel McClellan’s a great writer, and I hope to see more suspenseful books from her in the future.
I rate Unleashed 4/5 stars. Very well-deserved!