Charisma by Jeanne Ryan
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Everyone remembers the obsession with Nerve. The release of the movie had a large chunk of the book loving population grabbing at the novel, interested to see where the movie came from. I was part of that population. The advertisements for the movie seemed wonderful, and before I decided to watch, I wanted to read the book. Upon finishing the book, I realised it was not at all what I had expected it to be. In fact, I was extremely disappointed in it. I gave it a three star rating and have yet to watch the movie. Despite this, I’m the kind of person who tries to give authors a second chance. Thus, when I saw Charisma in an offer, I decide to pick it up. Charisma would be the second chance I like to give.
Sadly, I liked Charisma even less than I liked Nerve. There were some elements of Nerve that interested me, whereas I was wading my way through the entirety of Charisma. I was constantly waiting for something to grab me with this one, for something to pull me completely into the story, yet that moment never came. The the potential there, but it never quite reached said potential. In other words, I was disappointed by this one: I wanted so much more than I was given.
Whilst Charisma is a young adult novel, a part of me was holding out hope that it would be a medical thriller. A medical thriller with teens, but a medical thriller nonetheless. With genetics involved and problems associated with a drug, there was the chance for many amazing things. Sadly, the parts of the story that should have earned this book the title of ‘thriller’ never gave any thrills. At no point was my heart pumping and at no point was I on the edge of my seat. Things happened, yes, but there was no real emotion attached to anything.
I think my biggest issue with this novel is that I never became invested in the characters. Without interesting characters, a book can flop. When you like characters, you want to know more about them, you participate in the story. When you dislike characters, even the greatest of stories can seem a bit on the dull side. From the very start, I didn’t really care at all for our main character. It seemed as though she was sending the message: ‘being an introvert is wrong’. Well thanks, but no thanks. I’m perfectly content with my introverted ways. Not everyone needs to be front and centre to enjoy life. Not everyone needs to be the centre of attention, the universe revolving around him or her. I’m not saying being an extrovert involves these things – yet such is the message I received from this book. I felt as though this book was telling you there are two opinions in life: you can be ignored or you can be it all. Not the greatest of messages. Moreover, there were points where I felt as though the message was being sent that being an introvert is so bad because our main character is attractive – surely attractive people are supposed to be extroverts. Honestly, I could rant on and on about this, but I know it will soon start boring people. I completely understand the skewed views of teenagers – hell, I’ve been there myself – but this book felt as though it was sending all the wrong kinds of messages.
Pushing aside the building rant, back to the other elements of the story.
Even had I enjoyed the characters, I wasn’t overly interested in the events of the book either. The things that played out never really had any feeling behind them. It was a collection of typical teenage moments, intercepted by the negative outcome of bad choices. With Nerve there were some interesting moments, moments where something happened, but even when details of Charisma were moving the story forward, I did not feel as though there was much interest to be found. The story could have played out completely differently and I wouldn’t have cared all that much – it is very much one of those stories I can say I have read, yet I cannot really tell you all I read. For the first third of the book, not much happened. For the last two thirds of the book things appeared to happen, but I couldn’t give you the specifics.
Overall, this wasn’t at all what I had hoped it would be.
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