STRUCK by Jennifer Bosworth Published May 8th, 2012 by Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux BYR 373 Pages ARC Received Via Netgalley
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Mia Price is a lightning addict. She’s survived countless strikes, but her craving to connect to the energy in storms endangers her life and the lives of those around her.
Los Angeles, where lightning rarely strikes, is one of the few places Mia feels safe from her addiction. But when an earthquake devastates the city, her haven is transformed into a minefield of chaos and danger. The beaches become massive tent cities. Downtown is a crumbling wasteland, where a traveling party moves to a different empty building each night, the revelers drawn to the destruction by a force they cannot deny. Two warring cults rise to power, and both see Mia as the key to their opposing doomsday prophecies. They believe she has a connection to the freak electrical storm that caused the quake, and to the far more devastating storm that is yet to come.
Mia wants to trust the enigmatic and alluring Jeremy when he promises to protect her, but she fears he isn’t who he claims to be. In the end, the passion and power that brought them together could be their downfall. When the final disaster strikes, Mia must risk unleashing the full horror of her strength to save the people she loves, or lose everything.
I had my eyes on STRUCK for a number of months. When it became available for review via NetGalley, I pounced like a hungry leopard and forced myself to find the time to read it. The plot is wonderful, unique, strange and unusual. But the synopsis only barely touches one thing about this novel, and that’s a really, really important thing that might turn off a number of readers who jump into it…
STRUCK is the story of Mia Price, a girl who has a rather dangerous addiction to being struck by lightning. She’s been struck a number of times, and her mother moved her and her brother to Los Angeles right in time for a massive earthquake that destroyed downtown LA (but mysteriously left water and electricity on in Santa Monica – that’s about 15 miles, and therein lies a plot hole). LA is left in ruins and the US government is too busy overseas to care about the problems at home. A televangelist prophet has predicted an earthquake that will destroy the world, caused by a storm, and Mia is the key to their plans, along with the opposing side’s plans to stop them. And Mia objects to this, of course.
Mia Price is a fairly independent main character, belied by her occasional stupidity rushing into danger without thinking first. I really did connect with her on a certain level, drawn in by her snarky voice and her memories of a time when there wasn’t pain and crazy spreading like the flu. She’s had to deal with her mother for a year after the Quake, during which time her mother was trapped under the ruins of a building for days and left with PTSD. Her brother Parker is a headstrong young boy who wants nothing more than to take the role that Mia shuns, throwing himself into danger wanting to save the world when he doesn’t have the necessary skills. Then there is Jeremy, the designated love interest of this story, and also the creepy stalker that follows Mia around, sneaks into her bedroom, and basically made the romance not very believable. Once again, we have a relationship built on “He’s so hot” instead of “I can see myself living the rest of my life with this strong, kind man.”
But I should probably get to that little issue I mentioned earlier. This book is REALLY religious. As in both sides in the fight have a biblical background, and this apocalypse? Yep, it’s the End of Days mentioned in the Bible down to a T. The Sixth Seal, the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the righteous being saved – all that is mentioned, and not just by the Followers of the Prophet and the Church of Light. The “good guys”, the Seekers, are also biblically-focused, following the world of a seeress from 200 years ago who predicted the End of Days and Mia as a martyr for mankind. I am not a religious person, I’ll admit it, so all of this was hard to read. It ranged from being preachy to not, but I really am not a fan of religious fiction, and this seemed like it would have been better off with a Christian publisher versus a mainstream YA one. Just saying.
The romance in this was also hard to believe, with the stalker boy going from stalker to hot makeout sessions in two days? Jeremy seemed like a nice enough guy, but we barely get to know him, leaving me feeling that this relationship was nothing more than a needed plot element. Especially since he stalks her. And about 70% of the way in, after we are really introduced to the stakes and the players involved, things start getting REALLY ridiculous. I almost stopped reading, but after I trudged through about 50 pages of weird randomness, the story picks back up and you’re back into the thick of it.
Other than that, and a few plot devices that I took issue with but won’t mention, the book is really good. Characterization is great for the Price family, the writing is clean and nuanced with occasional appearances of something more lyrical. I really did enjoy the plot and the pacing was spot on. These aren’t the problems with the story, but maybe I just took fault in this novel because I am not a person that is big on religious fiction. Yes, maybe this is how society will end up, but having both sides – good and evil – be carriers of religious banners just made me feel somewhat squicky. Also, when the “God is love” guy showed up, I laughed. The male version of my mother right there.
Jennifer Bosworth in her debut shows great promise for the future and I cannot wait to see what she comes out with next. I just secretly hope it is a little more secular than STRUCK ended up being.
VERDICT: Belied with a strangely religious focus, STRUCK is an interesting, provocative debut from an author to watch in the future.
♥♥♥ – THREE HEARTS