Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Review: Powerless Book I: The Synthesis by Jason Letts

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

First off, let me say that I dislike the term, “Young Adult Fiction”. This particular tag labels a work as childish, only for children or “young adults” (duh!). I recently read an article that said if Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” were to be published for the first time today, it would most likely be labeled as such. This is sad, because I have a feeling there are many YA books out there that are fantastic reads, and yet adults may pass them by, thinking the material to be beneath them.

Jason Letts’ “Powerless Book I: The Synthesis” is one of those books.

The story is simple and yet brilliant. On an earth much like our own, the whole of the populace has been granted super powers (for lack of a better word) since birth. All, that is, except our heroine, a precocious sixteen-year-old named Mira.

Mira has been kept isolated by her loving parents for all her life, surrounding their house by a wall of impenetrable mist to keep their vulnerable baby safe. Life goes on as usual for this family until, one night, a face appears to Mira through the clouds. This sparks her curiosity about the outside world, and leaves her parents with little choice than to unveil the reality of existence to their daughter.

From there, the storyline follows a fairly predictable trail. Mira goes to school, meets her classmates, makes friends (and possibly enemies), and generally experiences the growing pains that would accompany a person who’s lived their entire life locked away from the rest of humanity. However, when I say “predictable”, I don’t mean “bad”.

The wonder of this novel isn’t the storyline, but the feel of the characters. These are teenagers we’re talking about here, and though they are as selfish, vain, and insufferable, as teenagers usually are, there is also a layer of righteousness in each of them. We can see it, just beneath their surface, even if those acting out the deeds on the page cannot. It was truly inspiring to see, and I felt myself being thrown back into my own late teen years, wishing that in my own trials and tribulations I could’ve made the same bright and insightful choices that the characters here do.

The novel’s setting is magical, though in a subdued sort of way. There are many times where the reader will shift from a realm of high fantasy, what with the village square and the sealed fortress, where everyone walks (or flies, or teleports, or whatever else) to where they have to be through lush forests, to modern-day realism, where there is a knowledge of batteries and mechanics. This is not a stretch. Think about living in a world where everyone can do such wonderful things with their bodies. There would most likely not have been an industrial revolution, as there are folks who could perform certain tasks (a la shaping metal with the slightest touch or lift heavy objects from a distance with nothing but flick of the wrist) with relative ease. This doesn’t mean that science is dead; no, on the contrary, science exists, and it is very much the same, but it is pushed to the background because, with all these wondrous gifts, it is relatively unnecessary.

This is an innocent book and, as I said, simple. And it is also the first of a series. Like some of the other great works dealing with children (from Harry Potter to Buffy the Vampire Slayer), we should understand that as the volumes build and the characters grow older, the product will become darker and more adult. This is why the early books – or episodes – of these particular series should be cherished. Though they grew in scope and reached exciting and satisfactory endings, there is still, when one looks back, a sort of melancholy that emerges. We understand that we’ve known these characters since they were naïve and impressionable, and it hurts just a little to see their innocence diminish through their troubles and the sorrow of reaching adulthood. We should always remember that innocence, that clarity of youth, because without it, we become nothing but hollow shells.

“Powerless Book I: The Synthesis” captures all of this, and more, and promises that there will be even grander adventures right around the corner.

In short, I adored this little novel. It is well worth the read, and I am truly excited for the upcoming volumes to be released. I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars – the docked half-point existing only because I thought the ending a bit hokey. Not bad, just hokey.

But it’s fantastic, anyway. I invite all to check it out. Only available on the Amazon Kindle.

Powerless Book I: The Synthesis by Jason Letts

Plot - 9

Characters - 9

Voice - 9

Execution - 9

Personal Enjoyment - 9

Overall - 45/50 (4.5/5)


J.M. DeBord said...

I've seen Jason around and heard that he's a talented new author. Thanks for the review, Robert - it tempted me to download a sample and give Jason a try.

Casey Hickey said...

The book is also available as a PDF at powerlessbooks.com