Sunday, January 8, 2012

Member Giveaway Review: Tempest

Author: Holly Hook
Genre: YA Fiction
Pages: 190
Warnings: Ahoy Plot Holes, Spoilers
Rating: 3/5
Series: 1/?

"Tempest" by Holly Hook is a YA fiction book, the first in the "Destroyers" series. It follows the main character, Janelle, after she moves to Florida and strange stuff begins happening. Janelle and basically everyone she knows or is related to is a Tempest, a strange sub-group of humans that become hurricanes once in their lives, and can do that really cool thing with their eyes that's shown on the book cover.

Before I say anything else, I want to make it clear that the premise of this book is freaking awesome. I cannot stress that enough. I don't pretend to understand that people who can turn into hurricanes any time they fall in salt water only do so once in their lives, because if I could turn into a hurricane, look out coastal cities! I did some research, and was a little annoyed to discover the named hurricanes that the WMO picks repeat every six years, but I stick like the concept that Tempests have a government mandated role call. If you've already read the book, feel free to follow the same wikipedia/google trail I did and be disappointed there is no Hurricane Adriana (although there have been several Adrians) or Hurricane Janelle in the real world. I am not against fiction books that borrow part of their information from reality, but I guess I was a little surprised by how easy it would have been to incorporate real hurricanes and give the book more of a "hidden world within a world" feel. Even though the ability to become some of the scariest, most powerful tropical storms is just fantastically cool, I would have preferred Hook had either completely veered off into a fantasy setting or maintained a more accurate representation of where the Tempests could have fit into our world.

I also really appreciated the characterization of Jenelle, Lucas and Greg in this book. I am crushed when I read books where the teenage characters sound and act more like some adults ridiculous caricature of teens, or characters that jump right from being pre-pubescent to being adults. Hook breathes life into Janelle, and into that awkward place where teenagers reside, which I loved. The developing relationship between Greg and Janelle was especially believable, not to mention cute. I am a suspicious person by nature, but their stolen  moments warm my heart. I got very caught up in those scenes, and the transparency of Janelle's reactions. In general I think Hook has strong talents when it comes to portraying teenagers, and teen interactions.

However I didn't feel the depth of characters extended to some of the the adults (ex: Adriana, Mr Deville). I can't tell if the lack of well developed personalities because they weren't main characters, their actions were more plot than personality driven or if it was a conscious effort to help illustrate Janelle's snap judgments. It would be really cool if they were a result of some method writing, but I'm not comfortable assuming that. Sometimes this bothered me, but certainly wasn't a deal-breaker.

I am a stickler for internal consistency in a story, so I take umbrage with a few of the plot points. I realize how silly this may seem to someone else, but it frustrates me that not all named tropical storms are Tempests. I don't understand why it was mentioned in the book. Additionally it makes little sense that there is a magical system that knows when when it's someone's turn to become a Tempest (and can halt all the other Tempest's ability to become hurricanes) down to the day but none of the actual Tempests seems to know even what month they should become a hurricane. It's also odd that there was very little about Tempest culture explained, but somehow Adriana knows how to brainwash the Tempest subconscious. I wouldn't normally bring up all of this, but the crux of the issue was that all of these plot devices could have been incorporated reasonably well, but at the time they all felt too convenient to me. Janelle would never kill people on purpose? Suddenly, Adriana can control her subconscious by playing only one tape while she's asleep for an hour (while back in reality brainwashing of an unwilling participant can take years under special conditions). That is just an example of the frustrating plot holes in this book. Said plot holes dragged me out of the book to complain, which is not an ideal reading experience.

It may look like I have a lot of complaints, but I really did like this book. I'm just kind of pushy. So while I have a few complaints about the deus ex machina style plot devices creeping into Hook's novel, they did not overshadow the excellent characterization and straight-up awesome premise. I was definitively entertained, even though I usually prefer to avoid YA. If you are a teen or just like reading teen fiction, I would strongly recommend this. Jump all over it!

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