The Inhabitant of Alexis O'Riley

What a fantastic story this is! Vanessa Meadows is not the girl she has always been because a year ago, her brain was transferred into another body in order to save her life. But the history of that body is catching up to Vanessa, and she must make new friends and get to the bottom of the real story before it is too late. Expertly written and delightfully engaging, this is a story that will keep the pages turning from beginning to end. Please see my full review below!


Waking up after a tragic car accident is hard enough, but when the reflection in the mirror is that of a stranger, life becomes even more difficult. About one year ago, Vanessa Meadows was riding with her parents when a car accident left her father dead and her own body crushed beyond repair. Because Vanessa’s brain was still functioning, she had the fortune of being transplanted into a new body whose own brain had expired. But the new body is not that of a normal fourteen-year-old girl, and Vanessa must discover the truth about who she really is before it is too late.

This is a fantastic story; well written and engaging from the first pages, readers will be riveted by the unique and compelling storyline that feels realistic despite its futuristic scientific nature. Initially, Vanessa feels like an intruder in someone else’s body, often referring to it as something “other” and describing it by using phrases like “the hands” or “the hair.” As the story progresses, however, Vanessa learns more about the girl who resided in this body before her and she begins to recognize similarities that were not always apparent. Thanks to the help of caring friends and family, Vanessa uses what she learns to avenge her body’s previous owner and rescue thousands of others in the process.

Not only does Vanessa’s new body look different, it has different needs and restrictions than Vanessa’s previous one did. The most noteworthy of these is a severe allergy to peanuts which makes itself known more than once within the story. Whether or not readers have experienced allergy attacks themselves, they will feel the desperation and fear that accompanies the sudden and unexpected onslaught of physical reactions that occur as Vanessa reaches for her Epi-pen. This inclusion gives young readers insight into the reality of people with this condition and allows readers of all backgrounds the chance to walk in Vanessa’s shoes and more easily empathize with others.

Vanessa’s transition from who she once was to who she is now is a dramatic and inspiring tale. At fourteen, Vanessa is balancing the tribulations of friendship that occur during middle school while navigating the uncharted situation of waking up in another person’s body. Throughout the novel, strong themes of friendship and standing up for what is right keep the story grounded amidst the action-packed danger in which Vanessa frequently finds herself. This story is a standout, and it is an excellent addition to libraries for older middle grade readers.

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