Friday, November 7, 2014

Reader's Review: "Disenchanted" by Kelsey Garmendia

Synopsis from Amazon:
Samuel was murdered in an alleyway in Boston in 1918. He woke up hours after getting his throat slit. He thought he was special. That his death was a gift. He was wrong. 
Lily was normal. But her anger over losing her mother caused her to tear buildings down solely on her rage alone. She thought she could be helped. She thought she could control it. She was wrong.

My Review:

Despite what the title says, "disenchanted" I was not! The narrative focuses on Samuel and Lily, two people with singularly devastating superhuman abilities: Lily's power of telekinesis manifests when she is especially agitated, and Samuel cannot die.
Both conditions present the characters with extraordinary struggles: Samuel has seen enough of his loved ones die to last several lifetimes, and Lily's outbursts force her family to move and change their names, and damage her by causing brain-frying blackouts and evoking fear of any level of emotional increase. 

The development in this book is fantastic. I opened it just to "get a feel" for what the book was going to be like, intending to read it at a later date... But with each successive chapter, it grew harder and harder to put it down! Sometimes writers of the "superpower" genre get bogged down in the dark side of it all, or the deep-seated government conspiracy behind the manifestation of these powers, which turns out to be a high-flung bunch of jargon that makes the writer sound like she knows what she's talking about, meanwhile the characters are floundering in a sea of "lab rats" just like them who all have their own issues and the story gets pushed to the wayside while the anarchist author uses them as little more than a front for their pointlessly manufactured complaints about the government and the concept of "good/evil" in general that has little or no bearing on the reader's real life whatsoever...

Kelsey Garmendia blows past these "cliche traps" with the air of a master storyteller. She keeps it simple, focusing the narrative entirely on the lives of her two main characters, not cluttering the landscape with extraneous "super-normals" or shady government bogeymen. She trades off between filling in more of Samuel's backstory and advancing the present-day events at a steady, albeit relentless pace. At the heart of it all, two people dealing with being the "outsiders" of their respective circles, form a friendship that is closer to a brother-sister type relationship without any of the romantic tension that also entangles many promising premises of this genre. Suddenly it's not so much about a geek trying to convince us that superpowers are real and possible and only people with a certain genetic predisposition or some kind of mutating accident will have them--but it's about two people and a very real struggle we all deal with: Can I accept the way I am and the abilities that I have, and purpose to do good, even if no one else accepts me or thinks I can?
I have often repeated the quote from Ray Bradbury's "Farenheit 451" that says, "Good writers touch life often." Yes, this is a story with super-powers, but Garmendia treats the characters like real people, with the same sort of struggles you or I would face, and the "abilities" are neither the problem nor the solution; it is the people themselves who must work out the answer to the question, and in the process, give the reader a new perspective on his or her own life.
I will refrain from spoilers, but I can say emphatically that the ending delivered on every level! "Disenchanted" is a perfect score!

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