Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Book Review: Borrowing Abby Grace by Kelly Green

Borrowing Abby Grace series by Kelly Green
Release Date: October 2011 - December 2011
Publisher: Backlit Fiction
Pages: ~50 pages per episode
Received: Review copies of episodes 1 & 2 from author
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


From Goodreads:

Smart and sassy Abby Grace is a seventeen-year-old with a talent for getting out of trouble. Sent to repair the lives and loves of teenagers on the edge of disaster, Abby is the perfect girl for the job. She has everything going for her… except one thing: a body.

This fast-paced and exciting episode is the first installment in an ongoing mystery series with a supernatural twist.


This review is for the first two episodes in the series.

Here's the deal

This is the first time I've read a book published in episodes, but it is very similar to reading a novel serialized in magazines. Each episode is approximately 50 pages long, so it's entirely doable to read an episode in a single sitting. For a person like myself who lately is always struggling to find time to read, I really appreciated this format.

Each episode had a self-contained mystery as well as clues to the overarching mystery of Abby's out-of-body predicament. The self-contained mysteries easily kept my interest. The situations were creatively drawn and clues were fed at a perfect pace to both keep me on my toes and let me feel engaged in solving the puzzles alongside Abby.

By the end of each episode, the central mystery has been solved and Abby is a few steps closer to figuring out why and how she ended up in the body-swapping business.

Abby's got The Voice

When Kelly Green first sent me a review pitch, I almost declined because 1) I'm not accepting e-books at this time, and 2) I'm not accepting indie books. So why did I agree to review the Borrowing Abby Grace series?

Because I fell in love with Abby's voice. The premise of the story also caught my eye (body swapping to solve mysteries? Score!), but it was Abby who cinched the deal for me. I read the first few pages and knew I had to spend more time with this girl.

Abby is that type of hilarious character who is always coming up with amusing inner commentary on her situation. That she routinely finds herself thrown into some unknown person's body (where she needs to not only convincingly act like she IS that person, but also figure out the problem they're facing AND solve that problem), makes for a lot of opportunities for Abby's humor to shine.

Other things I liked:

-The budding maybe-friendship-maybe-more relationship Abby has going on with her enigmatic guide Will.

-The enigmatic guide Will. What time period is he from? Who is he? WHAT is he? What is his connection to Abby? I love it!

-Abby's attempts at blending in. Whether it's time travel, body swapping, or some other cause, I never get tired of watching the "I've got this, I can totally blend in...even though I have NO clue what is going on here" premise in action.

-The mini-mysteries were sweet. I aawww-ed.

Is this format for me?

I'm intrigued by this format, but I'm not entirely on board as a customer. First off, I don't have an e-reader, so I'm not really an e-format purchaser. I am also an extremely impatient person who likes to sit down and read the WHOLE story at once, so this format isn't really made for people like me.

I'm not sure that I would buy individual episodes, but I would totally buy a print bind-up of the whole Borrowing Abby Grace series. In fact, I'm crossing my fingers that it comes out in a print bind-up edition someday because I want to both own it myself AND buy a copy for my library kids.

Bottom line

I'm hooked. Kelly Green has accomplished what every series author should strive for: She's hooked me with the strength of her writing instead of relying on feeding me an incompete story.

Sure I'm totally dying to find out what happened to Abby's body (is she dead? in a coma? a paranormal creature? I NEED TO KNOW!), but my main reason for wanting more is because this series is straight up fun. I enjoy it, and I know that I'm going to have a fun reading experience every time I pick up another episode.

The subject matter and situations Abby finds herself in are pretty much in the MG/YA crossover spectrum. Abby does go to a party where characters engage in underage drinking and sex is talked about and implied, but nothing is racier than what teens and (often tweens) watch on TV or in movies (think something like Gossip Girl or 10 Things I Hate About You).

Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key 

Do you have any questions about Borrowing Abby Grace that I haven't addressed? 
Feel free to ask in the comments!

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Click on the covers to go to Goodreads.


  1. Sounds like a lot of fun. I noticed three installments are out, but they are kind of expensive at 2.99 for 50 pages. I'm with you, I hope there is a big bind up of stories, but maybe they'd be short stories? I'm not sure. Did you just read one story? It looks like there are three out with different names. If you read more than one do they read like chapters or seamlessly. Or more like short stories?


    1. There are three out, but I have only read the first two. They read more like...hm, you know how a normal book in a series reads? How some have a self-contained story and then also an overarching plot? It reads exactly like that, but shorter. I'd say it has more substance than a short story though and it is definitely NOT like getting a single chapter. The second episode picked up right where the first one left off.

  2. This sounds like fun. Part of me says - what's the point in "episodes", because I'd rather read it all at once. But then again, that's what a manga series is. And really an entire book series. I'm curious about this.

    1. I was never the type to like serialized stories, so I don’t think I’m a good judge of the point of episodes. It is nice to get a bite sized story, but overall the format isn’t for me. I’m terrible even with regular series! I love them, but more often than not I try to wait until the whole series has been published before I start reading.

  3. My boyfriend reads a lot of comics and this sounds like a similar format...he lives for Wednesdays when new issues come out! While he does read many in graphic novel format (after the issues have all come out and they are collected in one book), some of his favorites he just can't get enough of in one sitting. It's a cool concept for a book to do it that way. The big question, which you asked as well, is will there be a hard copy format of all collected episodes after they are released?
    - Jessica @ Book Sake

    1. I don’t read comics, but yes, that sounds very similar! I’m pretty sure the episodes of this series come out without long waiting periods between issues. I really hope there will be a print copy bind up. It’s so much easier to share the book with other people that way.

  4. This is super cool! I haven't heard of Backlit fiction! But the whole episodes thing sounds like a lot of fun!

    1. I think Backlit Fiction does another series that I saw Jen from In the Closet with a Bibliophile reviewed, and she liked those too. It seems like they’re picking winners.

  5. I also got a review request for this series and I'm still on the fence about accepting it. I haven't had the time to sit down and read a sample but now I'm reconsidering. I do like the sound of the character and feel like I should give Abby a chance.

    1. I’m really curious to see what you think of the series! Abby isn’t quite up there with Suze (from The Mediator series) for me, but I liked her a lot. I hope more of her personality comes through as the series goes on.

  6. The episodes it definitely an interesting twist. We'll see how it works for this particular series! Nice review, thanks!

    <3 jordan

    1. I agree, the episode format is interesting. It reminds me of a cross between television episodes and old serialized novels when they were printed chapter by chapter in magazines.

  7. Oh, I am so curious about this now! Mmm..well it be sold outside of the digital market?

    Not a huge fan of Kindle/e-reader gadgets. >_<

    1. I hope you enjoy it! I agree, I’m not big on the Kindle format, or really e-books in general. I don’t know if it will come out in print, but I hope it does!

  8. Awesome review, Smallsie!
    I had no idea the "episodes" were so short,and I love that the mysteries are self-contained.

    I'm going to try to get this book in the kindle :D

    1. Thank you :D I hope you like it! I’m curious to see how you like Abby, the mysteries, and the format.

  9. Sounds really good & I think those episodes are fab to read in the train. :) I'm liking the cover too. I'm glad you gave it a chance and that you liked it.

    1. Yes, the episode format would be perfect for a block of time like a commute!

  10. Thanks for this review!
    I got a request to review this one and I really want to but I am seriously lacking time.
    It sounds very good and I can find myself feeling the same about wanting it all in one bind up!


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