[Untraceable] S.R. Johannes

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I’ve had Untraceable in my stack of books and e-books waiting for me to read it for a long time. I just kept putting it off. Now I realize how stupid I was to have done so. Untraceable is a heart-pounding and heart-wrenching story of a girl searching for her father long after everyone else has written him off as dead. It’s been a little over three months and quickly becoming a cold case. Grace refuses to believe that her father is dead. Not until she finds evidence that he’s gone.This stubbornness leads Grace into dangerous situations and it’s only luck–and an attractive stranger–that gets her out of them. Untraceable leads readers through its pages by tightly gripping their hands and not letting go. It leads Grace down paths that she never thought she’d go and discoveries that she can hardly believe.

Untraceable is firmly rooted in the contemporary genre. It is upfront about the dangers and betrayals of the real world. People sometimes lie to protect us, and Grace and the other characters in this novel are not exempt from that. Much of the contemporary young adult literature I’ve personally read is often that of a romance or a mystery with some sort of supernatural element thrown in. It was nice to read a mystery that remained real. It felt as if this story could be real because it is full of things that can occur in the deep woods of National Parks. The novel focuses on the desire of finding people we’ve lost, whether physically like her father, or emotionally like her mother. It shows us how lies can shock us, revealing a bit of someone’s character that we’ve never known before. It attempts to show readers how difficult it is to find someone again.

The voices of the characters were so real. The things they were saying and how they acted while they said it let them bloom on the page. They were so strong and not watered down because they were secondary characters. Grace was a wonderful protagonist. She was rash, but also extremely smart. A perfect mix of what people are like when they’re teenagers. It was interesting to read a novel where the protagonist was a tracker. I felt that I was able to learn a little bit from Grace, but I’m still not going to go traipsing into the woods with only a compass and gps tracker. Her relationship with her mother was particularly well done. Both are suffering under the waves of grief, but they deal with it in different ways. It’s difficult for them to come together because of that.

Stuck between desiring a recent-now-former boyfriend and a mysterious boy with an accent, the romance in Untraceable was achingly sweet. S.R. Johannes writes it slowly, allowing it to build until readers are yelling at Grace to make a move. It was not instant-love, but reminiscent of the times we’re hit with love-at-first-sightis when we were teenagers. Romance in the novel was not the focus and never became the focus. Johannes kept it tight on the mystery of her father’s disappearance, and Grace feels guilty about her interest in the boys because it sometimes briefly turns her focus away from finding her father. Usually when there’s a love triangle there’s a clear relationship a reader is supposed to root for. I had an incredibly difficult time deciding who I wanted her to be with, and as soon as I thought I’d picked one, the other would show up and I’d have to reassess.

The mystery in Untraceable kept building until the explosion of the climax, each page pulling me deeper into the wilderness setting. There is little to complain about; some things were predictable, and some things were not. Ultimately, I am 100% going to check out the second novel in The Nature of Grace series and if that proves to be as gripping as the first, I will eagerly check out the final novel. This is my first S.R. Johannes novel, but if all of her books are as strongly written as this one, count me as a hooked reader.

5 stars.

I received a read to review copy of this novel from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Untraceable was first published in November, 2011.

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