The Killing Jar by Jennifer Bosworth is bizarre but never bland

The Killing Jar by Jennifer Bosworth is bizarre but never bland

This is one of the strangest books I’ve encountered in YA.  It was full on weird, and, yet . . . I still read it in a single sitting.  Maybe the breathtaking cover mesmerized me.  Maybe I just can’t resist a weird twist.  Whatever it was, I was compelled to read on.  Ultimately, it was a three star read for me, but I can’t say I don’t remember it months later.


Goodreads Summary

“I try not to think about it, what I did to that boy.”

Seventeen-year-old Kenna Marsden has a secret.

She’s haunted by a violent tragedy she can’t explain. Kenna’s past has kept people—even her own mother—at a distance for years. Just when she finds a friend who loves her and life begins to improve, she’s plunged into a new nightmare. Her mom and twin sister are attacked, and the dark powers Kenna has struggled to suppress awaken with a vengeance.

On the heels of the assault, Kenna is exiled to a nearby commune, known as Eclipse, to live with a relative she never knew she had. There, she discovers an extraordinary new way of life as she learns who she really is, and the wonders she’s capable of. For the first time, she starts to feel like she belongs somewhere. That her terrible secret makes her beautiful and strong, not dangerous. But the longer she stays at Eclipse, the more she senses there is something malignant lurking underneath it all. And she begins to suspect that her new family has sinister plans for her… .

My Thoughts

Kenna is an engaging protagonist with complex feelings and the little bit of a dark side needed to make her feel like a real person more than a character.  The first person point of view gives readers plenty of insight into her inner workings, but it does leave the secondary characters feeling a little flat.  I don’t think that is necessarily a negative thing because it does leave readers guessing about everyone’s intentions and it plays into the ominous atmosphere.

The story is well paced to hold reader interest and develop Kenna’s internal conflicts.  It does seem move quickly when it comes to external conflict, especially at the end when it starts to slam readers with action.  I don’t think it will bother many readers because most of them will be left puzzling out the rather bizarre explanation behind Kenna’s abilities. It was certainly unique.  This is one of those books that drags out the mystery until the last possible moment. Readers are given clues that allow them to make some inferences, but, ultimately there is a lot of delay and “we can’t tell you anything too revealing just yet” going on.

I thought the book was definitely something I hadn’t seen before, but ultimately readers will be able to guess what it all comes down to because, well, cult.  I enjoyed the story and found it engaging.  It was creepy but not necessarily scary.  There was suspense galore, and I really wasn’t sure how the story would pan out – I just knew it wouldn’t be bland.  Language and situations are appropriate for high school readers (light sensuality, drug-like abuse of substances, and violence).

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


About queenbook

When the final bell rings, I stash those messy piles of essays and analysis assignments in a desk drawer and I head home to a pile of good books. My kids and dog eat too many chicken nuggets and the house could be neater, but as long as I get my daily read, I guess we are doing all right. When I was twelve and fifteen and eighteen and twenty, I believed I needed to get out there and do those things I had just been reading about, which ended in disaster, tears, a tattoo that scares me every time I catch a glimpse of it in the mirror, and the realization that some of us are meant for action, and some of us are meant to critique the pace of action in a book. I read primarily YA fiction as I have a rather hulking classroom library and a hundred high school readers to engage daily. Nothing makes me happier than coming to school and finding an impatient teenager waiting by my door to turn in a book and get another one just like it. I adore a good zombie, a medieval princess, or girl assassin (I would like them all in one book if you are a writer looking for some inspiration). I add historical mystery to my wish list a year in advance, and you should get out of my way when the next Outlander book comes out. I have an embarrassing fondness for rock star books, but only if they don’t get too trashy and embarrass me. My favorite book of all time is The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. My book boyfriends include Gilbert Blythe, Alonzo Wilder, and Jamie Fraser. They are mine and you can’t have them.

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