Very Good and Satisfying Story!!!
I've had this one for a while and finally got around to reading it. After a three day stay in the hospital for a nasty infection in my hand (kinda ironic huh?) and seeing a story in the news about how ICU patients sometimes suffer from long term dementia from their stay in the ICU (in fact around 75% of patients leave with cognizant impairment and 1 in 3 of them have such severe cognizant impairment that it rivals Alzheimer's) it just felt like the proper time to read this book.
While out jogging Macy trips in a pothole and lands in some debris: sticks, leaves, etc and ends up getting a splinter in her leg. She tries to pull it out but it breaks off so no big deal. she'll just get it with some tweezers when she gets home. Once home she gets really sick, apparently a nasty flu bug was spread around at the last school dance she attended and everyone she knows has caught it. So she ends up sick and forgets all about that little splinter in her leg. As her temperature skyrockets she accidently bangs her leg causing immense pain and while checking out her sore leg she notices a lot of red lines running up and down it, spider-webbing from the location of her wound, Her family rushes home to take her to the Hospital where she ends up on death's door in the ICU from a really nasty infection (see the ironic part now? I just got out of the hospital for a nasty bacterial infection in my hand - red lines included although it was nowhere near as bad as Macy's but still). After Macy becomes a bit of a nuisance at the ICU due to severe delirium the doctors decide to sedate her and put her into a forced coma so her body can conserve it's strength to help fight off the infection and what follows is one of the strangest, most surrealistic and amazing journey's I have ever read.
Macy wakes up in Chanticleer where she learns that she and other young people like her are there for a reason which is to work on their fears which are stifling them in the waking world and preventing them from living a full life. At first she is a bit put off by everything and doesn't really want to cooperate but once she learns a horrible secret: the secret of the shells of Chanticleer she puts her best effort into the program and tries her best to conquer her fears but the more she learns about Chanticleer and especially the shells the more afraid she becomes until she meets a young man named Sebastian. Sebastian is fearless and when she is with him she forgets all about her fears and truly for the first time since coming to Chanticleer she starts to make real progress but as the two of them become closer she comes to realize that one day she'll have to leave Chanticleer behind, forgetting everything she learned there but most importantly she'd have to leave Sebastian behind and she isn't ready for that.
I have to say this was such an odd but wonderful story. I kinda wish there was a Chanticleer although I'd hate to have to go because of the way that you get there but it'd be nice to have a helpful staff to help you work through all of your fears so that you can go back home and live life the way you were meant to live it. Macy's journey from being afraid of strangers and other people to being a strong young lady was really amazing to behold. All of the characters had their own distinct personalities and I enjoyed reading about so many people's fears. One girl is afraid of standing up straight. She's too tall she insists, another boy is afraid of many things, especially heights. Other girls are afraid of getting dirty and the list just goes on and on. The way the staff deals with everyone's fears is pretty creative and a huge source of entertainment. The book does a very good job of showing you how your own fears can stifle you as a person and that it's okay to be afraid but you have to learn to not let that fear rule you and control your life.
All in all it was a fascinating journey that Macy took all while she was in a coma, hooked up to monitors in an ICU somewhere. I think I saw that the author is writing a sequel and I have absolutely no idea how she's going to do it after reading this one but I definitely cannot wait to find out. This book was full of fun surprises and if you're looking for something a bit different then this is the story for you. It's very much deserving of 5 stars, it's just a shame I can't give it more.