Monday, October 6, 2014

Review: Chasing Power by Sarah Beth Durst

Sixteen-year-old Kayla was born with the ability to move things with her mind—things like credit cards and buttons on cash registers—and she has become a master shoplifter. She steals to build up enough money for her and her mom to be able to flee if her dad finds them again . . . which would mean grave danger for them both. 

When she’s caught stealing by a boy named Daniel—a boy with the ability to teleport—he needs her help and is willing to blackmail her to get it. Together, they embark on a quest to find and steal an ancient incantation, written on three indestructible stones and hidden millennia ago, all to rescue Daniel’s kidnapped mother. But Kayla has no idea that this rescue mission will lead back to her own family—and to betrayals that she may not be able to forgive . . . or survive.

          Unfortunately, I have to say this book was a disappointment. Perhaps I would have enjoyed it more if the bar hadn't been set so high with her previous works. But this book just didn't feel like one of Sarah Beth Durst's.
          We meet Kayla as a punk, almost goth, girl blessed with Telekinesis who uses her power to steal things (definitely a non-mainstream character, but one that adds a unique twist to the story).  She lives with her new-age hippie Mom (who she affectionately refers to as Moonbeam). And they throw themselves into their strange life, because it's all an act. And if they drop the act, Kayla's murderer of a father will find them. Kayla's frustration is very understandable, and I appreciated that instead of taking out her frustrations on Moonbeam, she sees it as her duty to protect her. Their relationship is very sweet and refreshing in a YA world wrought with parent-teen conflict. However, Kayla never thinks of her stealing as wrong. I understand this isn't the point of the story and not everything can be tied up neatly in a bow, but nobody tells her to stop. Even at the end of the book when she is stealing for both her best-friend and her boyfriend it is held up as completely normal that she should use her powers to take whatever she wants. The book justifies this by showing she steals from a rich area, but Kayla causes a lot of trouble for the employees of the locations she hits and never spends a thought on it. I also had issue with her eventual boyfriend, Daniel, who's loquacious declarations of love consist of, "You're amazing.", 'You are Amazing', 'You are an amazing girl', 'I think you're the most amazing girl I've ever met', etc. But I did like Selena (the smart, sassy, rich best-friend with parent issues). She went through a smooth evolution from beginning to end, and it was nice to see her growth.
Characters: 2.7 Stars

          On a more positive note, the teleporting (Daniel's power) providing a constantly shifting setting rife with possibility. We get to see everywhere from the rain forest to lava lakes to the pyramids of Egypt: the changing scenery added a new urgency to the plot. I felt like each plot point was followed by an exhaustive amount of exposition that somewhat deflated the excitement. But it was a straightforward story and the characters kept their focus. It was fairly melodramatic at times, but, other than the exposition, there wasn't a lot of waiting around. The plot got to the point.
Plot: 3 Stars

          I feel like a lot of Chasing Power told instead of showed. To be completely honest, at some points I considered putting down the book entirely. However, that's not to say there were no saving graces. Sarah Beth Durst is very good at cohesion. Though, for me, this book was just okay, I loved and have always loved the purpose Sarah Beth Durst puts into her writing. there was no goofing off. Each scene had it's reason for existence and stuck to it till the end. If a sequel for Chasing Power appears, I won't pick it up. But I will absolutely be picking up the rest of Sarah Beth Durst's books, and you should too.
Style: 3 Stars

Rating: 2.9 Stars
Source: ARC for Review
Genre: Urban Fantasy
YA Fiction

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