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A Reader of Fictions: Lightning Rod - Guster

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Lightning Rod - Guster


Author: Jennifer Bosworth
Pages: 382
ARC Acquired from: Farrar, Straus and Giroux BYR via NetGalley

Description from Goodreads:
Mia Price is a lightning addict. She's survived countless strikes, but her craving to connect to the energy in storms endangers her life and the lives of those around her.

Los Angeles, where lightning rarely strikes, is one of the few places Mia feels safe from her addiction. But when an earthquake devastates the city, her haven is transformed into a minefield of chaos and danger. The beaches become massive tent cities. Downtown is a crumbling wasteland, where a traveling party moves to a different empty building each night, the revelers drawn to the destruction by a force they cannot deny. Two warring cults rise to power, and both see Mia as the key to their opposing doomsday prophecies. They believe she has a connection to the freak electrical storm that caused the quake, and to the far more devastating storm that is yet to come.

Mia wants to trust the enigmatic and alluring Jeremy when he promises to protect her, but she fears he isn't who he claims to be. In the end, the passion and power that brought them together could be their downfall. When the final disaster strikes, Mia must risk unleashing the full horror of her strength to save the people she loves, or lose everything.

First Sentence: "When you've been struck by lightning as many tmes as I have, you start to expect the worst pretty much all the time."

I really, really wanted to love this book. Absolutely everything about it sounded so completely awesome to me: girl with magical powers from lightning, earthquakes, dystopia, cults. The plot sounded so intriguing and unique, and right up my fantastical alley. Unfortunately, the book really just did not work for me, from the beginning to the end.

From the very beginning, I sensed that I was going to have some serious trouble with this particular read. Very early on, Mia, who suffers from insomnia, manages to fall asleep. She wakes up in the middle of the night to see a boy standing over her bed holding a knife. He drops the knife, picks it up and leaves, all while she watches. Then SHE GOES BACK TO SLEEP. Not what I would do but she thought it was a nightmare, so okay. In the morning when she wakes up, she notices a cut in the floor right where the dream dropped a knife AND SHE STILL THINKS IT WAS A NIGHTMARE. This may be a small point, but I really could not get past it, and it's a perfect example of why I could not relate to Mia.

Normally, I really identify with main characters that are outcasts, because I know what that feels like. Maybe if there had been a bit more background about Mia and her family I would feel more attached. As it is, I was just frustrated by her inability to put things together. Realizing she was NOT dreaming takes her forever, even though it was INCREDIBLY obvious to me (and I really don't think that's a spoiler, since there was a cut in the freaking floor).

Another example is that, as all of the paranormal business gets explained to her, they keep mentioning a quality she has in excess but other people have somewhat. I swear it takes her like a hundred pages to figure out where that power came from, when I totally thought we all knew from the beginning and it hadn't been stated explicitly because it was so obvious no one needed to. About a hundred pages later, she has another revelation that was clearly the plot of the novel. The main character should not be so incredibly shocked to learn things on page 300 that I knew on page 25.

None of the other characters felt especially real to me, either. The one we get closest to is Jeremy, who is described as looking "like a European underwear model," except for the Clark Kent glasses he wears to hide his "beautifully tortured blue eyes." When I read those bits, I rolled my eyes so hard it hurt. Why can't Jeremy just be an attractive, real person? Why does he have to look like an underwear model, specifically European? What are beautifully tortured eyes? None of the other characters really seemed to have much depth to me, though, to be fair, there's a reason Mia's mom is catatonic through to much of it.

Then there are the cults. They're fascinating and terrifying, yes, but I feel like I don't really know anything about them. The Prophet's crew reminds me of the church in True Blood. They're crazy, and they don't require too much of a mental leap to imagine, but I'm having real trouble with the Seekers. It would be one thing if they formed to combat the crazies in white, but they came from some prophecy from yesteryear. How did they know? And how did they maintain interest for so long?

That's one thing I wonder about. The powers are seriously cool, and fortune-telling certainly is one of them. What I wonder, though, is where the heck these powers came from. Am I supposed to see them as coincidental? Is there some sort of god granting the powers? I just don't know.

Something else I would really like to know: WHAT'S HAPPENING IN NOT L.A.? L. A has a devestating earthquake, thousands die, and no one comes to help? The rest of the country just leaves the city to die of starvation and to be taken over by a crazy cult? I don't have much faith in humanity particularly, but I'm pretty sure their would be support from the government, like food and aid workers, unless there was drama going down elsewhere too. There is no mention of this, though. What's going on?

As you can see, I was left with more questions than anything. The concept here is great. Bosworth's writing definitely shows promise, and she definitely had a style to her syntax. I also really appreciate that she did not shy away from touchy subjects. Though this came out as a resounding meh for me, I am definitely not writing Bosworth off completely. There was enough good here, in the concept and writing, to give her another chance. I hope to find her next book a bit more well-planned.

Seriously guys, do not judge this one off of me alone, because I know other folks really enjoyed it. Just because I wasn't impressed, doesn't mean you won't be blown away by it. For example, check out this review from Good Books and Good Wine; she really enjoyed the book, even parts I didn't.

Rating: 2.5/5

Favorite Quote: "A piece of advice: if you want to remain in control of a doomsday cult, don't give a date for the end of the world unless you're really, really sure it's going to happen. Being wrong tends to undermine your authority."

"Standing on a building
I am a lightning rod
And all these clouds are so familiar
Descending from the mountain tops
The gods are threatening
But I will return an honest soldier


Steady on this high-rise

Like every lightning rod
And all these clouds are boiling over
Swimming in adrenaline
The sky is caving in
But I will remain the honest soldier

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Blogger Giselle said...

Lo wowza. Mia sounds umm.. peciluar! Haha. I actually put this one off because of reviews like this. You're definitely not the first to have these opinions and it also sounds like the same old, you know. I need some originality people!!

May 10, 2012 at 7:13 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Yeah, what sucks is I think her idea was fairly original, but she didn't sell it because you have to explain why some of these things are going on. It just makes me sad.

May 10, 2012 at 7:55 AM  
Blogger Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer said...

Bummer you didn't like this..reviews are mixed for sure, but i am going to give it a go..appreciate your thoughts on it!

May 10, 2012 at 11:35 AM  
Blogger Julia @ That Hapa Chick said...

Ugh I was marginally interested in this but your review has made me decide not to read it. The main character sounds like one that would drive me crazy too (she seriously thought that was a nightmare? WHAT?!?!) and the love interest can only be described as a European underwear model? Yeah not for me. :/

May 10, 2012 at 11:36 PM  
Blogger Sheena-kay Graham said...

Outcast story characters are among the richest. Also it's nice to read a novel not about vampire and werewolves or broody romances. Mia is an interesting character and the cult *shivers* is creepy. Good review.

May 12, 2012 at 2:37 AM  
Blogger Karielle Stephanie said...

This one seems like one I probably wouldn't try — the blurb sounds interesting enough, but based off your review, I probably wouldn't be able to finish it lol

thestephanieloves AT gmail DOT com

May 13, 2012 at 11:02 PM  
Blogger Bookie Bee said...

Oooh! I'd ordered this online :(
Maybe I should cancel my order!

May 17, 2012 at 10:29 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

I know some reviewers really liked it. If you have similar taste to me, then you might be better off with the library. If not, you might still love it!

May 17, 2012 at 10:35 AM  
Blogger Stephanie T. said...

There are so many mixed reviews of this book. I was planning to buy it, but I guess I'll try it at the library first since my taste is somewhat similar to yours.

August 1, 2012 at 1:04 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Yeah, I might wait. If you love it, great, you can buy it later. Hard to un-buy. lol.

I'm giving away a copy of Struck as part of Dystopian August happening now. :)

August 1, 2012 at 1:11 PM  

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