Sunday, May 7, 2017

Charisma by Jeanne Ryan

Title: Charisma
Author: Jeanne Ryan
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Source: Simon & Schuster

An edge-of-your-seat thriller from the bestselling author of, Nerve, the book behind 2016's hottest YA film, starring Emma Roberts, Dave Franco & Juliette Lewis.

A chance at the ultimate makeover means deadly consequences... Aislyn suffers from crippling shyness - that is, until she’s offered a dose of Charisma, an underground gene therapy drug guaranteed to make her shine. The effects are instant. She’s charming, vivacious, and popular. But strangely, so are some other kids she knows. The media goes into a frenzy when the disease turns contagious, and then deadly, and the doctor who gave it to them disappears. Aislyn must find a way to stop it, before it's too late.
Review by Nara

After having not really enjoyed Nerve that much, I was a bit wary going into Charisma. So wary that I actually bothered to read the blurb before deciding whether I wanted to read the book (instead of going in blind, which is what I normally would do). One thing that Ryan definitely has going for her is that she thinks of pretty good premises, or at least premises that have the potential to be good if they're pulled off well.

Unfortunately, the execution of those premises leaves much to be desired. The biggest problem I had with Nerve was that little was explained properly, and it looks like the same issue has translated over to Charisma, with Ryan similarly leaving everything quite open. The science is just very questionable and unrealistic, and I had a lot of trouble with suspension of disbelief.

The other thing that wasn't done well was the first section where Aislyn has not yet got the gene therapy. I feel like it went on for too long, dragging the pace of the entire novel down. In addition, I feel like it's a bit judgemental to say that people who are introverted cannot be successful. I would have understood it if the author framed it so that Aislyn actually suffered from social anxiety, but instead she just has "crippling shyness". I'm not sure if that was supposed to be social anxiety or not, but in any case, the book seemed to phrase it like introversion is a barrier to success.

I'm not sure I liked those little newspaper articles in between chapters. I've certainly seen those excerpts work before, for example in Mira Grant's novels, but in Charisma, they didn't really seem to add anything to the story. Especially because the characters more often than not talk about the content of the article during the chapter, so it just feels repetitive.

All in all, I have to say that I disliked Charisma. Despite a premise that could have been good, the execution was just not there, with slow pace, poor character development and questionable explanations.

Didn't like it
Overall: 3/10
Plot: 1/5
Romance: 1/5
Writing: 1.5/5
Characters: 1.5/5
Cover: 1/5