Shelli Johannes is making headlines with her indie-published YA thriller, Untraceable. I mean, even Kirkus Reviews loved it–and everyone knows how hard Kirkus is to please.

Lucky for moi, I got to read an advanced copy of Untraceable…and lemme just say. WOW.

16 year old Grace was reared in the wilderness. Her first pet was a bear named Simon. Her first potty, an oak tree. And, her first swing, a forest vine. Grace has lived in the Smokies all her life, patrolling with her forest ranger father who taught her everything he knew about wildlife, tracking, and wilderness survival. 

When Grace’s dad goes missing on a routine patrol, unlike everyone in her sleepy mountain town, she refuses to believe he’s dead. After finding a Cheetos bag and stolen government file, Grace is convinced she’s one step closer to proving all the non-believers wrong. 

One day, while out tracking clues, Grace is rescued from imminent danger by Mo, a hot guy who has an intoxicating accent and a secret. Grace has never felt a connection like this before, certainly not with her ex-boyfriend, the adoring, but decidedly unrugged, Wyn. 

After a few run-ins with the town’s police chief, her father’s partner, and some new evidence, Grace travels deeper into the wilderness that has always been her refuge only to learn that her father’s disappearance is not a mere coincidence. 

Soon she’s enmeshed in a web of conspiracy, deception, and murder. And it’s going to take a lot more than a compass and a motorcycle (named Lucifer) for this kick-butting heroine to emerge from an epidemic that’s spreading like wild fire, threatening everything and everyone she’s ever loved.

The highlight of this book–for me at least–was the KICK-BUTT heroine. Grace is literally so hardcore you will want her as your sidekick should the zombie apocalypse ever strike (not that there are zombies in this book, but you get what I’m saying, right?). Grace knows the woods–knows the sounds and animals and plants, knows how to live in them, knows when anything is amiss. She fishes, rides a motorcycle, and is pretty much as fearless as a person can get.

But Grace wouldn’t stand out if she weren’t dropped into such an amazing setting: the Great Smoky Mountains.  She’s attuned to the woods, so we the readers are locked into it just as tightly as she. The closest setting and heroine I can think of are those from Ilsa Bick’s Ashes. All hardcore; all awesome and unique.

And, lest you remain unimpressed, I will just add on: this book is incredibly well-written. Not a cliched phrase in sight. Seriously, as a writer, I was awed by how many ways Shelli came up with to describe Grace’s feelings.

So, if you like kick-butt heroines, thrilling action, or unique, stunning settings, then be sure to pick up Shelli Johannes’s Untraceable. It’s comes out Tuesday, and if you sign up for her newsletter, you get a discount!

And stay tuned for an interview (and giveaway!) with Shelli, coming up on Wednesday!

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