Sara’s Review of Transcend by Christine Fonseca
Publisher: Compass Press
Date Published: September 18, 2012
All seventeen-year-old composer Ien Montgomery desires is an escape from his family’s rigid expectations for his life; someone to inspire his music. When he meets a beautiful violin-prodigy, Kiera McDougal, his life music takes on new life. With her, he imagines a future outside of his parents’ control. That is, until a horrible accident tears them apart.
Sent to die in a sanatorium, Ien’s obsession for Kiera grows unbearable. Tortured by thoughts he can’t escape and the truth of his monstrous disfigurement, he flees, desperate to exact revenge on the people that ruined his life – his parents. But, vengeance is empty. Betrayed by those closest to him, Ien discovers that the price for his happiness may be his sanity.
Set amidst the landscape of New York’s Gilded Age, and inspired by Phantom of the Opera, TRANSCEND exposes the fine line between love and madness.
I, like the other felines in this house, am a huge fan of The Phantom of the Opera. I’ve read many different adaptations of the classic story (along with the original), have watch various film adaptations, and have enjoyed the soundtrack for years. So, after having read how this book was inspired by The Phantom of the Opera, I knew this was a story that needed to be read.
First let me say that this book surprised me. While it does indeed have elements to the well-loved classic novel, Fonseca has taken the idea of the Phantom to a whole new realm and turned it on its head. This book is dark and full of twists that will leave you breathless at times.
Ien is one of those characters that you can’t help but feel sympathy towards. His sense of betrayal at the hands of his family and those he loves, followed by his hurt when the truth is made known, pulled at my heart-strings. I found myself pitying him at times, and fearing for him at others. And there were moments where I wanted to claw him because of his blindness. He really portrays the Phantom character aspect perfectly. I absolutely loved Jenna, Ien’s childhood friend/household servant. She struck me as akin to Madam Giry, the woman who knows all there is to know about the Phantom. I would say more, but then I would be spoiling the story. Meanwhile James and Kiera are Raoul and Christine, respectfully. And there the comparisons pretty much end, and Fonseca’s unique spin on the story begins, murr!
One of the things I enjoyed the most about this story was the uncertainty towards what was real and what wasn’t. Many times while I was reading I found myself asking, “Is this real? Is what is going on the truth or a fallacy?” It isn’t until the end that you find out the real truth behind it all, and it’s a truth that will surprise you. I honestly thought I knew where the story was headed, but I was pleased to discover that I was wrong.
Fonseca has done a perfect job of creating a world full of mystery and intrigue. There are so many layers to this story, it needs to be re-read to discover them all. And it’s also one of those types of books where the reader needs to keep an open mind and just let it go as it will. It’s very easy to get frustrated by Ien’s continual spiral into depression and anger over his betrayal, but if that is all you focus on, then you will easily miss everything else that is going on in the story.
Transcend is a captivating read that will keep you up long into the night. There’s no doubt in my mind that Fonseca deserves a standing ovation for this novel!