Sixteen-year-old genius Matty Ducayn is the son of The Hill’s commandant. As such, he’s expected to conform to a strict, unspoken code of conduct. Small acts of defiance over years—such as walking on the grass—have earned him a reputation for being unruly. When sarcastic test answers finally get Matty expelled from school, King Hadrian offers him a diploma if he can answer a deceptively simple question, and then dismisses the only answer.
To prove his worth to society, Matty wrestles with the king’s word games, the kingdom’s historical record, and laws that don’t make sense. He meets Iris Locke, a street-smart gardener, along the way. After enchanting him at a glance, Iris helps his research, keeps him out of trouble, and finally breaks his heart. Alone again, Matty finds himself on collision course with a deadly law, one he will have to break to answer the king’s question.
Was Hadrian challenging him, or teaching him a lesson? Without Iris, it won’t matter, because Matty won’t stand down for anyone else.
January Black is the 2013 Readers' Favorite Silver Medal winner in the YA Coming of Age category.
|Publisher:||Wendy S. Russo|
|File size:||417 KB|
|Age Range:||13 Years|
About the Author
Wendy S. Russo got her start writing in the sixth grade. That story involved a talisman with crystals that had to be found and assembled before bad things happened, and dialog that read like classroom roll call. Since then, she's majored in journalism (for one semester), published poetry, taken a course on short novels, and watched most everything ever filmed by Quentin Tarantino. A Wyoming native transplanted in Baton Rouge, Wendy works for Louisiana State University as an IT analyst. She's a wife, a mom, a Tiger, a Who Dat, and she falls asleep on her couch at 8:30 on weeknights.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Fantastic! Intelligent! Sweet! & Well written! A novel should make you feel something. It should spark your imagination and grab your heartstrings. January Black does not disappoint and has so much more to offer than the casual page turner! It is a thought provoking puzzle intertwined with history, sweet first love, family secrets, and political dissension. Matty Ducayn is an upper-class teen in the city of Aventine. After being kicked out of school for one-upping his instructor, he is given a task by King Hadrian. Matty is quickly entangled in a behind the scenes, political exploitation of his intelligence, naiveté, willingness to bend, if not break the rules and laws that govern his world, all while falling deeply in love with Iris. Although the novel is set in the future, I feel that the story is relevant to the present. The scenes are descriptive but not wordy. The future technology is imaginative but not farfetched. The characters are well written and relatable. The dialog extremely enjoyable. It is a fascinating tale where seekers of freedom and a new beginning end up with a government that sees and controls everything - or at least tries to. Is Matty being unfairly manipulated, or is he part of a greater scheme for a better future? You’ll have to read it to find out. I would like to add one humble note: I do not care for anyone to push their thoughts, opinions, or beliefs on me and this novel DOESN’T come across that way at all. It is a story. Well told and inspiring. My only regret about January Black is that I didn’t read it sooner.
Judging by the cover and description, I had expected this to be either historical fiction or fantasy. It is neither. It's dystopian. I enjoyed the story and the mystery surrounding the question of January Black. The world of Columbia was built and described in great detail. The intricate plot line held many unexpected twists and turns that kept me interested. I did start to lose interest toward the end of the book, however. I felt like it took too long to wrap the story up. The romance between Matty and Iris is very sweet and I really appreciated the way they were open and honest with each other about boundaries. Parents: use caution with this book. I wouldn't recommend giving this to a child under the age of 15. There is strong language and sexual situations with some details. It would still be considered "closed door". Content: strong language and sexual content. The Cover: I absolutely love the cover. It is gorgeous and it makes me want to read the book again. The only problem with it is mentioned above - that I was expecting a different setting for the story.
I just recently finished reading January Black, received from the author for an honest review, and my head is still spinning. So much to wrap my mind around and I'm loving every moment just thinking about it. I haven't read such a thought provoking book of fiction in a long time. Strong characters, strange gadgets, leaders, secrets, betrayals, love, hope, disappointment, intrigue, leading up to the answer of what was January Black and proceeding to a whole other story of who is Matty Ducayn. I really enjoyed this story but I found myself a little confused on the imagery of the story. What I thought things looked like at first turned out to be totally different and than when I switched my thinking, things took even another turn. This took a little from the story from me, but not enough to distract me from the story as a whole. I wanted to know more about what was going on, whenever I had a spare moment I was picking it up and reading. Sometimes this got me as far as a page, but that brought me one page closer to answers. I loved Iris. Spunky, spirited, head strong, loving and knowing what she wanted out from life. When you hear the saying that behind every good man is a good woman, this is Iris. Matty, well, he started off with some issues and quirkiness but as his relationship with Iris grew he seemed to grow in his own maturity and a bumpy road became smoother for him. The King has you scratching your head every once in awhile trying to figure him out. Now Wendy Russo really threw me for a loop. Some of the things she did with her characters really felt like a punch in the gut, but you eventually find out why they did what they did. Not saying you still don't feel like taking out some personal revenge on them if you had the chance, but the emotional stronghold eventually becomes peaceful. There was even a place, which I wasn't expecting, that made me a bit watery eyed. The emotional rollercoaster than Ms. Russo put me on was well played. Do I recommend this book? Yes I do. I give it 4 1/2 stars, and if I wasn't trying to figure out some of the clothing, structures, etc, I would have given it 5. This isn't an action packed story, but it moves like one. There is never a dull moment and your brain is constantly on the go with it. Well done Ms. Russo, well done. You did not let me down and I look forward to reading more books from you in the future.
Reviewed by Dianne Bylo for Readers' Favorite Set in a world that is similar to our own, “January Black” by Wendy S. Russo is an intriguing mystery, a sweet love story, and has a twist at the end that will bring a smile to your face! Young Matty Ducayne has caught the eye of King Hadrian with his brilliant mind, intense curiosity and his ability to think outside of the box. Hadrian gives Matty a deceptively difficult question to answer: What is January Black? Matty has no time constraints, but there is only one correct answer and with the help and support of Iris, he undertakes a two year journey to find the solution to the king’s question. Throughout his search, Matty comes to many wrong conclusions, finds a sweetly sincere love shared with Iris, opens his eyes to the reality of the world around him, and learns that knowledge should always be shared. Once Matty realizes he has the answer, he makes a daring move that could cost him his life. He must trust in what the answer means, how it will affect the actions of those closest to him, and that his life will be changed forever! I was completely enthralled by the world Wendy Russo created in this story and kept hoping that I would magically find more pages after reaching the end! With its unique plot-line, smooth prose, and charmingly brilliant characters, I can highly recommend "January Black" to anyone who loves a book that can be read and re-read, again and again!
January Black was one of my favorites from the very first chapter. Amazing descriptive language, brilliant characters, intrigue and mystery of who/what January Black is – all captured my heart and I read the book with the feeling of deepest admiration for the author. I was fascinated by the romantic relationship of Matty and Iris – all chapters with them left me breathless. And I can’t help mentioning a brilliant twist at the end – it was superb! Wendy Russo has created a masterpiece.