Amanda Hocking sold over a million copies of her YA paranormal books by self-publishing, which makes her an outlier. Non-fiction writer Malcolm Gladwell describes an outlier as a man or a woman who “for one reason or another, are so accomplished and so extraordinary and so outside of ordinary experience that they are as puzzling to the rest of us as a cold day in August.”
Hocking’s books have been on my “To Be Read” list for some time now. This morning I finished Switched, the first book in the Trylle series. Within the first few sentences, I was hooked: “A couple things made that day stand out more than any other: it was my sixth birthday, and my mother was wielding a knife. Not a tiny steak knife, but some kind of massive butcher knife glinting in the light like in a bad horror movie. She definitely wanted to kill me.” From the opening I assumed Wendy’s mother was a psychopath, but as the novel progressed, I started to change my mind.
Seventeen-year-old Wendy Everly has always felt like an outcast. She’s picky, irritable, introverted, an awful student, and she can persuade people by repeating a command over and over again in her head. For example, after a teacher directs her to the office for sleeping in class, she chants, “I do not need to go to the principal’s office. You don’t want to send me down there. Let me stay in class.” And it works.
Wendy is slogging along at yet another school (she’s been kicked out of several) when she meets Finn, who reminds me of a darker version of the mysterious Edward Cullen. Finn tries to persuade Wendy to leave her aunt and brother and travel to a kingdom run by trolls because that is where she belongs. He reveals that Wendy is a changeling; the offspring of a troll who was secretly switched at birth with a human child. She understandably doesn’t believe him until she visits her mother in the mental institution.
Finn and Wendy drive seven hours to the troll kingdom of Forening, Minnesota, and that’s when things take an even more dramatic turn.
I really enjoyed Switched and will definitely search the library and/or my favorite used bookstore McKay’s for Torn and Ascend which are the next two books in the Trylle series. And I’ll have to add Hocking to my favorite author list.
Check out a great article about Hocking by Ed Pilkington at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/jan/12/amanda-hocking-self-publishing