May 7, 2012 by Heidi
Title: Struck [Amazon|GoodReads]
Author: Jennifer Bosworth [Website|Twitter|Facebook]
Standing: First in a series, can be read as a stand alone.
Genre: Young Adult, Apocalyptic, SciFi
Published: May 8th, 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux BYR
Format: Kindle edition; 385 pages.
Source: ARC copy from publisher via NetGalley.
Challenge: Debut Author Challenge
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.
Ah, Struck. It was awesome, it was frustrating, I’m thinking it was worth the time I took to read it, but also that I could have lived without doing so. First thing’s first, let’s talk about the good, because Struck does have some very cool culty goodness to offer.
Mia Price can’t even keep track of how many times she’s been hit by lightning, and it hits her different every time. Sometimes it will throw you 20 feet, sometimes it will fry your hair, sometimes it will even stop your heart. Once you’ve been hit, you’re more likely to be hit again, and lightning is attracted to Mia like a star-crossed lover. As a result, Mia’s family picked up and moved to Los Angeles, where it rarely rains. There, she’s far less likely to be struck. She wears all modest clothing to hide the lightning scars that cover her body, Lichtenberg figures, which now encompass her skin. They usually fade within days of being hit—but Mia’s don’t. Here’s an idea of what the scars look like:
Pretty cool, eh? Personally, I think they’re kind of amazing and I’m not sure why anyone would want to cover that awesomeness, but I suppose seventeen year-olds that have been labeled freaks by their former communities are self conscious about this sort of thing.
Struck had the type of fast-paced plot that made the book a breeze. It takes place in the lull between a massive earthquake and the official apocalypse. Or, ‘official’ according to the cults. Er, the cult and the secret society (though I’m with Mia, the two look the same from where I’m standing). Mia finds herself, and her family, caught between two warring factions, each certain that they will save the world. However, both sides believe Mia is the key to victory, and they’re willing to cross more than a few lines to win her over to the cause. Struck plays with the power of belief, particularly in a time of crisis, and paints a frightening image of those who will take advantage of chaos and fear in destruction. The perversion of playing in people’s heads made me feel dirty, and I loved the real fear and emotion Jennifer Bosworth was able to impart with the actions of those involved. The plot wasn’t exactly full of surprises, but the writing was solid, and the characters were well-developed if (at least in my opinion) unlikable.
And with that we come to the bad. As stated, I didn’t really like the characters. In fact, I didn’t really like anyone in this book. By the end I was ready to throw the book against the wall for lack of ability to shake some sense into or just flat up strangle Mia. Mia has leverage and power, and she doesn’t even realize it which drives me nuts. People keep trying to blackmail and lie to get her on their side, and it never once occurs to her that they should be begging and offering her stuff. I get the whole wanting to help your family thing, but at the same time, I don’t get the overprotectiveness that Mia exhibits. I’ve never been a big sister, so maybe I just can’t understand, but as the youngest of 5, I’m happy to say my brothers and sisters let me make my own mistakes and didn’t try to shield me from experiencing things the way Mia does with Parker. Sure, it’s the apocalypse, but I still think that’s just who she is and I’m not a fan. Also, it takes Mia way too long to figure things out. Wait, scratch that, she never does figure things out, she has to have facts spoon fed to her.
And then there’s Jeremy. Oh the love interest. This is where I started beating my head against the wall and rolling my eyes so much my head hurt. It’s the whole immediate attraction, can’t take their eyes off each other, become completely stupid kind of love interest. Yuck. When they first meet, there is the implication that Jeremy has been stalking Mia. She actually thinks: “Jeremy, a stalker? No way. A guy like Jeremy didn’t need to stalk.” Um, so, let me get this strait. Attractive guys don’t ever do creepy or inappropriate things to girls? They don’t have to stalk girls, because women just fall naked at their feet? Mmhmm, you’re really earning my respect here.
Finally, there’s the fictional science. I understand that sci fi is fictitious, and often requires suspension of disbelief, and I’m cool with that. Telepaths? Sure! Psychics? Why not? But when you start implying ridiculous things such as lightening causing an 8.6 magnitude earthquake, I draw the line:
There was a geological survey going on at the time—which, ironically, had something to do with earthquakes—and a crew had opened up a hole in the ground that went way down into the earth, supposedly for miles, all the way to the Puente Hills Fault that runs right beneath downtown. Lightning struck straight into the hole, and immediately afterward there was an 8.6 magnitude earthquake that lasted over three minutes. The top seismologists in the world had formulated a theory that, hypothetically, the friction along the Puente Hills fault line might have acted like a beacon for lightning. When the fault was struck, it increased the pressure on the fault exponentially, setting off the earthquake like a nuke buried miles underground.
Sure, Bosworth gives herself the out by saying that this could neither be proved or disproved, but since the entire plot more or less revolves around the notion of lightning being able to cause earthquakes, I’m going to say no. Just no. To be fair to her, I did check with the U.S. Geological Survey’s page on earthquakes. It states that “If weather does affect earthquake occurrence, or if some animals or people can tell when an earthquake is coming, we do not yet understand how it works.” But as someone who spent several years as a geosciences major, I find the notion pretty laughable.
In the end, I had my frustrations, but it was engrossing and such a fast read that I devoured it in two sittings. It’s a good read for those looking for a plot-driven book, but be ready to ignore some pretty implausible science and annoying characters.
Likelihood that I’ll be back for more: Although I enjoyed a lot of Struck, it irked me. There was a lot of eye rolling and heavy sighing (the annoyed kind, not the happy kind), so I do not think I will be reading the rest of the series.
I’ll just say this, watch the trailer. It’s one of the best-done book trailers I’ve seen, and it’ll give you a really good feel for the book itself:
Real life repercussions of reading this book:
When there’s nothing left to burn, you have to set yourself on fire.