Title: Flightless Bird (#1)
Author: Paulina Ulrich
Published: May 27, 2011
Series: yes (second installment is 'Broken Wings')
Amazon Summary: The summer of her seventeenth birthday Livy Eckels was faced with something she wasn't ready for. In the the midst of a crumbling family, devastated, she grabs her bicycle and heads out of town to escape the heavy atmosphere at home. Livy unexpectedly crashes into the lives of two mysterious people living on the outskirts of town. As she prepares to start her final exhaustive year of high school, she already has enough on her plate. Then with the entrance of Gregory Mason, her life becomes even more complicated. Tall, handsome, and ever so annoying, Livy can't stand being around him until she finds herself being pulled closer and closer to things she cannot explain. She was determined to understand why Gregory Mason was so interested in her until she discovered something that may put her curiosity to an end. Before she knows what is happening Livy becomes entangled in the mystifying plots of a secret society, a vengeful ex lover, and a situation she never expected to find herself in: falling in love with a boy whose secret she should have never known.
It took me a while to get into 'Flightless Bird' - the book felt very long to me and I do think I would've enjoyed it more had it been more compact.
However, it featured what we see quite rarely of in YA fiction nowadays which is a realistically and carefully growing relationship between hero and heroine.
The slow pace of the book gave more than enough time for Livy and Gregory to find each other - as people, as friends, and emotionally.
Ulrich put so much time into building a strong foundation and authentic connection between the two of them and she succeeded, by far. Their relationship was neither obvious nor forced, it wasn't anything but natural and you got to experience it step-by-step and see it taking shape before your eyes.
I wasn't exactly sure where to place Livy between the person she was when falling apart due to her parents divorce, the supposed dork at school, or the girl growing close and falling for Gregory - a part of me feel like I didn't get to know her well enough.
As for Gregory, I liked that he wasn't just this perfect gentleman (which he was) but that he had a pained past, that there was something else there.
There were a couple of really sweet supporting characters such as Livy's best friend Gracie, the hip Grandma Jean, and Gregory's older sister Cecelia, whom I couldn't but adore.
Cece was just the kindest, with such a warm persona. I could absolutely not believe that she was nineteen being so incredibly motherly - always taking care of others and never asking for anything in return.
"The secret" is kept subtle throughout the story, not taking action until the latter parts of the book. It isn't necessarily predictable but after a few good hints are dropped you kind of get an idea of what it might be regarding and even though it may not come as a shock, it is different and interesting.
There will be a big conflict at the end of the book and some serious fighting-sequences will break lose. Although, for some reason I'd expected something more, or something else. I can't exactly put my finger on it, but I'd hoped to have seen a bigger change or impact in the storyline or character.
There's a slight mysterious and classic vibe about 'Flightless Bird' and even though it wasn't entirely my cup of tea, I do recognize the work behind it. There's no denying Ulrich has put a lot of heart into this story and it's the kind of book I would say is timeless.