Sunday, July 1, 2012

Possession, by Elana Johnson- Review

From Goodreads:
Vi knows the Rule: Girls don't walk with boys, and they never even thinkabout kissing them. But no one makes Vi want to break the Rules more than Zenn...and since the Thinkers have chosen him as Vi's future match, how much trouble can one kiss cause? The Thinkers may have brainwashed the rest of the population, but Vi is determined to think for herself.
But the Thinkers are unusually persuasive, and they're set on convincing Vi to become one of them...starting by brainwashing Zenn. Vi can't leave Zenn in the Thinkers' hands, but she's wary of joining the rebellion, especially since that means teaming up with Jag. Jag is egotistical, charismatic, and dangerous--everything Zenn's not. Vi can't quite trust Jag and can't quite resist him, but she also can't give up on Zenn.

This is a game of control or be controlled. And Vi has no choice but to play.

I had mixed feelings about Possession.  There were moments where I was really enjoying some of the nuances of the story, I was intrigued by the characters and it had good pacing.  But I found the slang and the set up of Johnson's Dystopic world often confusing or not adequately explained which muddied the story for me considerably.

Johnson's world is very high tech.  There is mind control, robots, implants, and a slew of people with various talents from being able to control people with their voice to being able to control people or technology with their minds.  Not much is explained in the outset, and instead of a backstory set up, Johnson elects to have you sort out what's going on through the dialogue and antics of her charcters.  Normally that's my preferred type of story telling, but the complexity of Johnson's world made elements of the story unclear to me, even after finishing it.

For instance, there is a scene where suddenly in the middle of it a character appears, there is a bit of interaction and then they're gone again and I was left completely confused about how they got there, or how they left.  Is there some kind of teleportation she hadn't mentioned before? Maybe this is one of those powers like Jag and Vi have? Or was it a simple editing mistake?  There were a variety of small details like this that left me flipping back and forth trying to figure out if I missed something.  Often adding to the confusion was Vi's lack of understanding of what was going on as well.

Vi, Zenn and Jag were all intriguing characters who end up interrelated in a really unique and unexpected way.  I liked the dynamic she built with them and thought her triangle was one of the more interesting ones I'd read in YA.  But the mystery surrounding her dad/Lyle Shoenfeld/Thane was another one of the overly confusing parts I was having too much trouble deciphering.  How the four of them worked together was a little more straight cut but with the muddying of the Thane/Lyle/Vi's dad it made some of the simpler relationships confusing by association.  In the end I think her attempt to create a twisting plot full of surprises was complicated excessively by not providing enough clear facts.

By the end I found I was frequently shrugging off elements that didn't make sense or were confusing, just to finish the story. Too bad, since I think Johnson had some strong material mixed in.  A book I wish had been edited a little more thoroughly especially in light of my feelings about book two, Surrender. (Now aren't you dying to know what I thought about Surrender?? Of course you are,  *insert evil, maniacal laugh here*, that's why you'll come back tomorrow to see!)

Possesion, by Elana Johnson
Published by Simon Pulse June 7th, 2011

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