Title: Untraceable (Book 1 in Nature of Grace)
Author: S. R. Johannes
Publisher: Coleman and Stott
Release Date: November 1, 2011
16-year-old Grace has lived in the Smokies all her life, patrolling with her forest ranger father who taught her about wildlife, tracking, and wilderness survival.
When her dad goes missing on a routine patrol, Grace refuses to believe he’s dead and fights the town authorities, tribal officials, and nature to find him.
One day, while out tracking clues, Grace is rescued from danger by Mo, a hot guy with an intoxicating accent and a secret. As her feelings between him and her ex-boyfriend get muddled, Grace travels deep into the wilderness to escape and find her father.
Along the way, Grace learns terrible secrets that sever relationships and lives. Soon she’s enmeshed in a web of conspiracy, deception, and murder. And it’s going to take a lot more than a compass and a motorcycle (named Lucifer) for this kick-butting heroine to save everything she loves.
There are no words. I was hanging on to every word that my eyes could consume by the time I was halfway through. Was the beginning a little boring? Sure. But from page 100 on in? Completely, utterly, and irreversibly captivating. A sitting-on-the-edge-of-your-seat, screaming-when-it-ends wonderful! Johannes covers a range of emotions I didn’t think I could experience while reading a book, and I’ve had some pretty dang interesting experiences with books in the fourteen years I’ve been able to read (I’m eighteen- do the math). I was crying with and for Grace, shocked and horrified and delighted, all at the same time. I was heart-broken and scared and anxious, in love and confused, betrayed and vulnerable. I’m probably not even describing this the way it should be, but it’s the best I can do. When this book ended, I literally jumped up from my computer and threw a fit, screaming with excitement and frustration, while trying not to draw strange looks from my dorm hallmates. I’m just glad at this point that I don’t have a roommate. I could go on about how I feel about this book, but I’m going to try to move on (I probably won’t succeed).
From the very first page, I loved Grace. I wanted to know how she got herself in this situation, how she would manage to survive and get herself out of it. She is strong, independent, and irresistible. Her character has a charisma that lures the reader in, much like Grace’s flyfishing hobby catches fish – so that you are unaware of the power she has over you until you are panting along as she races through the woods. It is impossible to not catch her enthusiasm and frustration for her father’s case. Her determination is contagious, and incurable to the very end, where, if possible, the reader is so enraptured by this tale that he or she MUST have the second book. The urge is so overwhelming to read more, I turned the computer file inside out looking for more to read.
And yes, I said he or she. I don’t think this book is exclusive, meaning that I think both boys and girls can enjoy it. The romantic parts may be a bit much for a guy, but I think they can skip over those parts. Or they can man up and stick it out; either way, the action, nature, intrigue, and overall mysterious tone of the novel can hook either gender, in my opinion.
The other characters were wonderful, too. Even though Grace really made the story, it wouldn’t have been the same without a great ensemble. I really liked Wyn for most of the book, but only as a friend. Their past frustrated me, and I wish that Grace had been a little more straightforward with him, but their relationship made most of the book possible. The townspeople, none of which I really liked in the first place (as people, not as characters) still managed to surprise me. The secrets that Grace uncovered were nothing short of astonishing, and I love her for it while I am still trying to wrap my head around the entire thing. Grace and her mother also had a tough time of it, and even though I sided with Grace in all of their arguments (1. she’s the main character; 2. I’m a teenage girl – of course I’m going to side with her over her mother), I loved how their relationship worked out. Lastly, Mo. Again, what words can describe him? First of all, I loved him. I liked him so much better than Wyn for a romantic relationship with Grace. Secondly, I never doubted him – which was really one of the only problems I had with this book, because I had predicted part (but not all) of that mystery – but still loved how the plot twisted with his involvement. And then, with the end? All I can say, because I know I’ll give too much away, is that I CANNOT WAIT to read the second book. As in, I’m going to be searching for it immediately after posting this, even though I have a reading priority list. Yeah, he’s that good for the story.
So basically, this has just topped the charts for my “Favorite Books of All Time” lists, at least for now. It’s possible that it may move down – it’s always changing – but I doubt that it will ever move off (because that’s how my “Favorite” lists work – they just grow extensively longer, and never kick anyone off). I HIGHLY recommend this book. As in, if I did a rating scale, this book would have broken it. My review can’t do it justice, no one’s can. You just have to read it and see for yourself!
**Note: Due to some language and violence, I don’t recommend this book to anyone under the age of 14, more for the violence than the language.