Friday, November 23, 2012

Struck Book Review

 Author: Jennifer Bosworth. Release date: 2012. Publisher:  Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN: 9780374372835.

Annotation: After a devastating earthquake destroys Los Angeles, seventeen-year-old Mia Price is struggling to live in a world that is falling apart. Her only solace lies in her unlikely addiction: being struck by lightning.  

Personal thoughts: I love dystopian novels so I was pumped to read this one since I thought the lightning was a nice twist. Unfortunately, it didn’t really live up to my expectations. I found it to be too jumbled and wasn’t sure what kind of direction it was going in. I really wish the author had focused more on one main concept because I think she would have created a really awesome story had that been the case. I do think she has some interesting ideas, however, and look forward to seeing what she comes up with in the future. Hopefully she can improve and write something truly outstanding.

Plot summary: Seventeen-year-old Mia Price has tried for years to hide her darkest secret from the outside world. While most girls her age are interested in boys or music, Mia is addicted to lightning. Mia has been struck dozens of times, so much, in fact, that her body is covered with red veins that snake around like a lightning bolt. She doesn’t know why or how, but she seems to attract lightning, and can even feel a storm coming like tingles on her skin. After her abilities inadvertently cause her to seriously injure one of her friends, Mia, her mother and brother, Parker, leave their home in Lake Havasu, Arizona and move to Los Angeles to start over. Mia’s plans for a new life are put on hold, however, after a devastating earthquake, accompanied by a powerful lightning storm, destroy the city. Most of Los Angeles is killed, the rest displaced into a strange Tent City on the beaches. Those who were lucky enough not to lose their homes in the earthquake are left to fend for themselves as supplies of water and food run short. To make matters worse, a mysterious religious figure known as Rance Ridley Prophet, who accurately predicted the coming of the storm and earthquake days before it happened, has taken hold of much of the city’s survivors. Preaching that God is punishing Earth for its sins, Prophet’s Followers, clad all in white, roam the city like a church militia, trying to recruit anyone and everyone to their fold. Opposing Prophet are the Seekers, a group determined to show the Followers that their leader is a con-artist who is using the disaster to gain power. Not interested in taking sides, Mia soon finds herself in the middle of the conflict between the Followers and the Seekers, both seeming to know about her abilities and wanting to use them to their advantage.

Review: Fans of dystopian literature are sure to be interested when reading the description of Struck, the first novel in a new series by author Jennifer Bosworth. The idea of someone not only getting struck by lightning, but surviving and eventually becoming addicted to it is very intriguing. Unfortunately, however, Struck suffers from a common problem that plagues many young adult novels: too many ideas in one book. Individually, each of the concepts in the novel would make for a great story: post-apocalyptic Los Angeles destroyed by an earthquake started by lightning, a war between a religious leader and his followers and those who oppose him, a girl who is addicted to getting struck by lightning. Put together, however, the novel feels a little schizophrenic. Mia is a somewhat likable protagonist, wanting to protect her mother and brother at all costs. What is frustrating about her character, and as a result much of the book, is that the reason behind her ability to be struck by lightning and her subsequent addiction to it is never explained. Most of the time when someone is struck, they are seriously injured or killed, so why is Mia able to be struck over and over again without dying? If the significance of the lightning addiction as a genetic abnormality, paranormal ability, etc. was explained, the novel would have likely made more sense. The conclusion of the story as well feels very rushed and unresolved, but hopefully the author will be explain to expand on the events that occur and more in the sequel. With so many dystopian novels available for teens, Struck, unfortunately does not stand out enough to be easy to recommend.

Genre:  Science-Fiction

Reading level: Grade 8+

Similar titles: Cinder by Marissa Meyer, Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel, Divergent by Veronica Roth, Eve by Anna Carey, Legend by Marie Lu, Partials by Dan Wells, The Pledge by Kimberly Derting, Starters by Lissa Price, Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi. 

Themes:  Dystopian, post-apocalyptic, lightning, religion, prophesies, family, romance.

Awards/Reviews:  Positive reviews from Horn Book, Kirkus and Publishers Weekly.   

Series Information: First book in Struck series.   

Discussion questions:
-         How would you describe the Spark?-      Explain Prophet and his control over his Followers. Was he a truly religious man? Do you think people like him exist in our world?-       Why do you think Mia was apprehensive about joining both the Followers and the Seekers?-    Were you surprised to learn the truth about Jeremy? Why or why not?-        What was the significance of Tarot Cards in the novel?-       What would you like to see happen in the sequel?

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