“Phoebe Pope has enrolled at the Campus Below: a spy academy for shape-shifters hidden deep beneath a normal boarding school whose humans unknowingly protect it. There, she leads a double life: spy trainee Below and normal teen Above. When officials discover a kill list, with her name on it, Phoebe’s life takes a terrifying turn. For years, Phoebe has managed to keep her growing power a secret, but with villains hot on her trail, it’s only a matter of time before she’s exposed for what she is–a weapon.
Phoebe seeks distraction in movie star Colten Chase, who attends the Campus Above and appears to be majoring in winning her heart. But desire turns to heartache when Phoebe suspects that something sinister lurks beneath Colten’s glitter and fame.
Now Phoebe’s caught in a mesh of lies, betrayals, and danger. Can she rely on her new spy instincts–and her secret power–to get to the truth and to stay alive?
Captivating and unputdownable, The Year of Four is a magical Teen / Young Adult thrill ride you don’t want to miss.”
Who’s driving this thing?
The troubled but accomplished, the human but also Shaper, the amazing Phoebe Pope – and the only time we see her actually driving is after she hot-wires a car. So cool!
Phoebe, after recently losing her father, decides to join Green Lane Academy, a supernatural school that prepares students for the Shaper Intelligence Service. Half Shaper and half human, Phoebe is known as a Hypha and this year, she isn’t the only one.
Shapers are an amazing take on shapeshifters. After their “conversion” when they change shape for the first time, Shapers are able to turn into either a large cat or bird, depending on their ancestry. As well as being able to manipulate the elements of air and earth, Shapers have two hearts – yup, two!
But Phoebe isn’t just any Shaper. Before her father died, he taught her how to tap into and “push” people’s emotions, and she is sometimes able to completely control how people feel. But as her father requested, she tells no-one of this unusual ability.
As a character, Phoebe is someone I really connected with and not because we shared any traits but because she is a character to root for. Her struggles burden her but don’t define her. She makes mistakes and learns from them. Her emotions are strong but don’t control her. This girl is a kick-ass protagonist in so many ways.
What’s this all about?
Shapers have enemies: the malicious Vigos who can also change shape but only ever into the form of black tigers (illustration included in the book – it’s awesome!) After Phoebe arrives at Green Lane, Phoebe learns that the Vigos are oddly interested in this year’s intake of Hyphas and that she and three others at the school are in danger.
After an attack during a midnight soccer match (Shaper-style soccer is awesome, by the way), during which the Vigos attempt to kidnap Phoebe, she tries to figure out why another Vigo would try and save her from abduction. As the moonester goes on (the only real flaw with this book is this word) and two of her fellow Hyphas are taken, Phoebe finds that even the school faculty aren’t beyond helping Vigos.
While trying to uncover where her fellow Hyphas have been taken, Phoebe makes good friends with Hayley, a fellow Shaper and Colton Chase, the school’s resident celebrity and movie-star. After some resistance, Phoebe finds herself falling for Colton and much to her surprise, he ignores the offers of all his devoted fans on campus in favour of her.
I’m going to avoid spoilers here, but here’s what you need to know: as Phoebe becomes closer with Colton, she hones in on a terrifying secret that throws their relationship – and her safety – into jeopardy. But Phoebe soon learns that the Vigos fascination with the Hyphas goes further than the Alphas of the packs. The Anzaini, the Vigos’ ultimate authority, wants the Hyphas in their grasp to control the unique powers they believe the Hyphas possess.
What’s so great about it?
If you’re after a short list, I should probably tell you what isn’t great about it. But I won’t, because I want to gush.
First off: this book is so well written. No typos, no grammatical errors and pretty sure all the commas were in the right place. But better yet, the language, the flow, and character uniqueness were spot on.
Second: This supernatural world is so unique, and it has its own social media! The hierarchies and school were so well thought out, and the classes at Green Lane Academy are awesome. Understanding Vigos is a bit of a niche class, but I would have loved Bio Encryption and Tactical Bird Song when I was at school.
Third: The plot is very complex and guessing the ending is no easy feat. A lot of time, thought and effort has gone into this book and it shows.
Should I get it?
In my opinion, totally!
The Year of Four has really earned those five stars. If you’re a YA/paranormal romance/urban fantasy fan, you’ll love this book, and here’s where you can get it:
E-book and paperback versions are available on Amazon, where it is sitting on 4.5 stars with over 100 reviews.
Thanks for reading this review. If you’ve read this book or want to know more about it, drop me a comment!