Voices in the Theater by A.S. Santos
Student Paranormal Research Group # 1
Flipside Publishing, 170 pages
Samantha Davidson has a secret: she can hear other people’s thoughts. Not everyone’s and not all the time, but it’s enough to convince her she can’t really trust anyone. Now, transplanted to a strange country, estranged from her family and peers, she begins to hear the voices of those no longer living or earthbound. Will she heed them as they lead her to a dark, forgotten corner of her past? Or will she surrender to the love and light offered by newfound friends, and learn to listen to the one voice she has long suppressed—her own?
Voices in the Theater is the first installment of A.S. Santos’ three-book Young Adult Paranormal Romance. Follow Sam and her friends in the Student Paranormal Research Group as they encounter bizarre and often dangerous supernatural occurrences, battle demons both spiritual and psychological, and navigate adolescence and young love.
When was the last time I read a paranormal YA novel? I cannot remember anymore. That was my main hesitation when I was offered a review copy of Voices in the Theater by A.S. Santos. Other than being categorized as paranormal, the story seemed more on the horror side and I also don’t do horror stories. So what made me read this, then? A friend telling me she thinks there’s a fit. I honestly doubted it, then, but I was craving for more local fiction so I said yes. When I found myself suddenly in a place where I can’t open my paperback and just start reading, I found myself starting this book, since it was the only new one in my phone’s e-reader.
I was wary about it, being paranormal and having that horror factor and all, but you know what got me really interested? Early in the book, I had a feeling the setting was familiar, and then 11% into it, it was confirmed:
De La Salle University: the place where I felt like a freak…
It’s not the freak part that got me, but the school — this book is set in my alma mater! :D How exciting is that? Talk about anchoring it in real life things.
Voices in the Theater is the first book in A.S. Santos’ Student Paranormal Research Group series. We meet Samantha Davidson, a Filipina-American who has a special ability: she can hear people’s thoughts. After her grandmother died, she and her family moved to the Philippines and she tried to live a normal life, except she joined the new org in school that dabbled in the paranormal. For their first project, they investigate on the rumored haunting in the school’s theater, where Sam hears not just the voices of the dead, but other spirits, too. With these hauntings confirmed, Sam realizes that there was more to it, and there could be someone close to her that these spirits are targeting. Sam has to act fast, but she realizes that there are many supernatural powers at play that knows her past, and she’s not sure if she can summon enough faith to do what she needs to do.
I was surprised with how much I enjoyed this book. Well, being set in DLSU is already a big thing for me, so I knew I would like it, but I was really surprised at how much I really liked this! Voices in the Theater reminded me of those ghost stories that my college friends and I talked about around school, the Ghost Hunters TV show with the scientific paraphernalia, that old Spirits TV show where the characters had some kind of supernatural powers, and even a bit of my favorite Peretti novels with the angels and demons talk. I know this is a lot, but they just worked together really well and I didn’t feel the least bit bored with the story. The book kept me at the edge of my seat, and there were several times that I had to stop myself from reading because I was seriously getting creeped out. But I still wanted to read because I wanted to know what happens next.
Like I said, my enjoyment factor was upped because of the familiarity, and I was really thrilled when I read my old college org there, too! I liked how Voices in the Theater didn’t just deal with the paranormal but also touched a bit on faith, and what role it plays in spiritual warfare. And it’s really that — the meat of this book is spiritual warfare. I wished there was a bit more praying in the characters, but it might be asking too much. But I was glad there were praying characters there.
The only thing that I probably didn’t like was the romance aspect. It might just be me, but I was almost begging the book to not have that paranormal romance aspect because…well, because I didn’t like it. I even formed my own OTP among the characters (SAM + MIGS FOREVER!). Haha. But seriously, I could do without that romance. Please don’t let it go that way? At least it was tastefully written and there’s some sort of healthy realism to it. It didn’t have that insta-love/I can’t live without you type of romance that I’ve grown to really dislike. Female heroine with sense FTW!
But overall, I thought Voices in the Theater by A.S. Santos was a really, really good book. Plus points to the ending, where I can really visualize where the final scene was happening. :D And more plus points because there was a certain part of the book that reminded me of the feeling I had right after I finished reading Mina V. Esguerra’s Interim Goddess of Love. I can’t describe it exactly, but it’s the kind of feeling that makes you want to start telling others about the book you just read. Because I am definitely recommending this book to anyone who’s looking for good Filipino paranormal YA (and to anyone who studied in DLSU!).
I can’t wait to read the next installment in the Student Paranormal Research Group series (what a mouthful!). :) Please come out soon! Thanks to the publisher for the review copy!
My copy: ebook review copy from publisher