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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
Paragon by Shauna Alderson is an addictive tale of magic, friendship, danger, and time. Though her friends have moved on, Randi has remained in her small town where she has settled into a routine with her salon job. Life isn’t the same since her friends left, especially since the guy she’s liked since school moved after they shared a memorable moment. Her normal life changes when she discovers that the stories she grew up hearing and the games children play aren’t make-believe at all. She discovers the mark of the Paragon on her body and suddenly everything she thought she knew has changed. An amazing trip to be with her friends draws her into a shocking new reality as she finds herself torn between a dreamscape where she trains along with other Paragons and discovers that even those closest to her have secrets. As Paragon hunters close in on her location, Randi quickly learns that those she thinks she can trust may lead her into more danger.
The story pulls you in from the beginning through the introduction of a sassy protagonist and a gritty world built on the myth of paragons. Shauna Alderson delivers a genuine fear brewing in the background as children are encouraged to shy away from the game of Paragons out of fear that hunters will get them. This fear becomes the focus of Randi’s life after she gets the Paragon mark and her life goes from a mundane existence in her hometown to one with hunters, powers, and secrets. The story weaves between the two sides of Randi’s life, which strikes a balance between her exciting trip with her friends and settling into herself as a Paragon. Her dreamscape is a dream state which gives her a sense of freedom where she can talk with others like her and connect with people dealing with the same fear and struggles that she is. Alderson weaves the two sides together as her two worlds quickly collide and she ends up carrying the weight of it all.
The story has a love triangle as Randi continues to explore her feelings for Eddy, discovers a connection with Louis, and has fiery chemistry with her friend Neil. Her relationship with Eddy is the classic friend dynamic where she’s had a crush on him for years and the two are navigating around a moment they shared. This balances out against her connection with Neil which is a complicated dynamic rooted in secrets and trauma from the past. Alderson delivers an exciting adventure in Paragon that blends mystery, romance, and action into a humorous and gritty urban fantasy.