Switched by Amanda Hocking is a young adult novel set in the modern era and is book one of the Trylle series. For those who don’t know, Amanda Hocking shot to fame through self-publishing in 2010. Though she has published several other novels since then, this is the book she is perhaps best known for. The general consensus on Goodreads is that her later books are better, which isn’t to say that Switched is bad because it isn’t.
Wendy has always had trouble fitting in. She is difficult, awkward and just plain different. Her mother snapped when she was seven-years-old and tried to kill her, screaming that she was a monster. To make matters worse, she has recently started developing a strange ability to make people do what she wants, just by thinking it. A mysterious boy arrives and takes a special interest in Wendy. He tells her that she isn’t human but a Trylle, a changeling. She wants to believe he’s crazy but the more she thinks about it, the more it begins to make sense.
The beginning of the novel is a little on the clichéd side but it does get interesting later on when we begin to learn more about the Trylle. In fact, the best aspect of the book is the folklore and the world building. It is difficult to find paranormal creatures in YA that have not already been done to death. It was interesting to read a YA book about trolls instead of fairies, and the idea of changelings in the modern world was handled in an original way.
The main character Wendy isn’t particularly likable but the other characters make up for that. They are all layered and feel real, even the unlikable ones. Everyone has clear motivations. However, the romance felt a little forced, like the author felt there just had to be one. Finn and Wendy seem to develop a deep connection far too quickly. I also wasn’t feeling like they had that much chemistry. Wendy did have a good rapport with another character which might be promising. I know she also has a separate love interest in the second book that might be a better fit. One thing that I think did work with the romance was the very real pressures the Trylle society put on Wendy and Finn not to be together. It felt like a real obstacle, not easily overcome which is refreshing.
I think there could have been more mystery to Wendy’s true identity, more build up to the reveal. The pacing, though, is generally a problem. After Finn tells her the truth, things happen quite quickly and then slow down considerably for the rest of the book. The ending was sudden and very open ended, clearly making way for the next book. Still, it could have used a little more resolve.
The writing itself is clear and easy to read. Hocking does a good job of making you feel present during the story. Despite my problems with it, Switched was an enjoyable read I would recommend to readers in their mid to late teens. This is very much YA, however, with little crossover potential and may leave more mature readers frustrated.
The film rights to the Trylle series have been purchased but have more recently reverted back to the author so it looks like there won’t be a movie for some time. Given how the book is structured it would work better as a feature length film than a series or maybe a web series.
Chloe Moretz or Danielle Campbell (Davina from The Originals) could make a good Wendy. Someone like Andrew Garfield or Ed Westwick might be able to bring the right brooding quality to Finn. Madeleine Stowe (Revenge) would be perfect as Elora, the beautiful, cold Queen of the Trylle. It could be quite an exciting movie if they added more mystery and reworked the pace, especially if the actors playing Finn and Wendy had good chemistry.
Content Note: Profanity is used by the characters in Switched of varying strengths. I did not find it that pervasive, however. There are a couple of scenes where characters fight with no gore. A character briefly mentions a time that they were stabbed and required stitches. There is no sex or sexual contact beyond passionate kissing. No nudity.
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