Review: The Tension of Opposites by Kristina McBride

Title: The Tension of Opposites
Author: Kristina McBride
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Pub. Date: 5.25.10
Genre: Contemporary YA
Keywords: Kidnapping, Friendship, Photography, Love, Relationships
Pages: 288
Description (from GoodReads):
It’s been two years since Noelle disappeared. Two years since her bike was discovered, sprawled on a sidewalk. Two years of silence, of worry, of fear.

For those two long years, her best friend Tessa has waited, living her own life in a state of suspended animation. Because how can she allow herself to enjoy a normal high school life if Noelle can’t? How dare she have other friends, go to dances, date boys, without knowing what happened to the girl she thought she would share everything with?
And then one day, someone calls Noelle’s house. She’s alive.
A haunting psychological thriller taken straight from the headlines, The Tension of Opposites is a striking debut that explores the emotional aftermath of a kidnapping on the victim, and on the people she left behind.

The Tension of Opposites is one of those novels that pulls you in from the first lines and refuses to let you go until you’ve read every last word. Devour is almost too tame a word to describe how quickly I read this novel… inhale might be a better fit. It’s always a magical experience when a reader finds an author whose writing style fits perfectly with his or her preferences – and I’m happy to say that I experienced that magic with Tension.

I feel that I should mention that the the description of Tension only conveys the darker elements of the plot, despite the fact that there is plenty of lighter material in the novel as well. Not only are both light and dark elements present, they are perfectly balanced. With a novel that addresses such a heavy topic, attempts at lighter material may be awkward and disrupt the flow of the novel, but this isn’t so with Tension: it plunged into the inky dark depths of emotion and managed an amazing love story. The fact that the story is told from the point-of-view of the victim’s best friend offered a unique perspective and, I think, ultimately allowed McBride to write such a balanced story. I would have been frustrated if the entire story was dark, since Tessa is the narrator and I wanted her to move past the traumatizing event and find happiness, despite the horrors that Noelle suffered. It will never be something that she will forget, but she can’t postpone her life indefinitely, no matter how much she loves Tessa. In ways, I thought the fact that Noelle lost so many things provided even more reasons that Tessa shouldn’t. Noelle had those things taken… Tessa shouldn never just give them up.

Tessa and Noelle’s relationship was painful and heartbreaking. I felt for Tessa… She waited so long to regain her best friend, guilty and afraid to live her own life after Noelle’s had been cruelly shattered. When Noelle returns home, Tessa knows that things won’t be the same, but nothing can prepare her for the new Noelle… Elle, who doesn’t seem to have even a glimmer of Noelle left in her. At the same time, I understand why Noelle had to adopt this new persona: Noelle, Tessa’s best friend, is dead. I think McBride accurately conveyed Tessa’s POV, which is different than most other YA novels dealing with the same topic, as they usually told from the victim’s POV.

One of the brightest elements of the novel is the romance between Tessa and Max, the boy who finds a way past Tessa’s carefully constucted walls and into her heart. Max and Tessa’s relationship is one of my absolute favorites… and I read a lot of good love stories. I think the realistic quality of their story is what really won me over… I believed in their story. That and the fact that there is the definite possiblity that it might not work out between them and I desperately believed that they should be together! Tessa’s ready to do anything to help Noelle, including giving up her own happiness… and Max.

Grade: A+

Cover Notes:
When I first saw the cover I wasn’t really a fan, but after reading the novel I think it’s a peferct fit!

Trailer: This is definitely the my all-time favorite book trailer. It captures the emotion of the novel (and succeeded in making me cry)!

Watch it on YouTube.

Check out my INTERVIEW with Kristina and go HERE for a chance to win a signed copy of the novel and fun swag!


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