Strength by Carrie Butler
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I really wanted to like this book, and there were parts that I really enjoyed. The beginning is engaging, with Rena meeting Wallace and finding out that he is nothing like her preconceived notions. The idea of a race of superpowered people has been done to death, but that's okay. I like fantasy, and just because something is cliché, that doesn't necessarily make it bad. Unfortunately, the promise at the beginning of Strength was empty. The last half or so of the book just fell apart.
My first peeve came early on, though. Can anyone tell me why Carrie Butler felt the need to invent a new word that means the same as another perfectly good word? The non-word in question: 'confliction.' What the hell? That's not a real word, and 'conflict' is already a noun so why on God's green earth would you add 'ion' to the end of it? It just sounds so incredibly stupid. And it's not just once, either. 'Confliction' shows up over and over and over in the text. I wanted to scream. The word you're looking for, Carrie, is 'conflict.' That's the word you want.
One of the things that is a deal-breaker for me when reading a story is when a character does something they would never ever do. Well, that didn't quite happen here, because the characters kept changing. I couldn't tell you about Rena's character, besides that she's stubborn (and stupid), because I have no idea who she is. She's all over the place. What's her motivation? And Wallace: he goes to church but he's not above killing someone, and the only reason he won't fornicate (which is kind of a no-no by church standards) is because he's afraid he'll hurt the girl. The only characters I really got a handle on are Aiden and Gabby, and they're a stereotypical geek/nerd and a stereotypical slut. Ugh.
At one point, Rena's wrist gets broken. I'm not going to say how, in case anyone cares about spoilers. Anyway, she continues on blithely in spite of the excruciating pain, even using her wrist to push herself up at one point, though to be fair, that does hurt... just not as much as it should.
Speaking of Rena: it is possible to write an unlikable main character and keep the reader engaged, but it's not easy, and it's a huge risk. I don't think that was the goal here, but it was a big fail whether I was supposed to dislike Rena and still want to keep reading or... was I supposed to like Rena? Because I didn't. She was so annoying. I wanted to reach into the page and slap her... hard.
The big showdown with the villains is one of the most boring I've ever read. Most of it is a bunch of exposition where the villains explain what they're up to and why they're doing it in an attempt to get the heroes to join them. I understand that they're trying to get their support, but my eyes glazed over. I really don't care about your stupid plans, villains! I want some action and internal conflict and emotional angst.
I gave the book 2 stars because of the potential promised in the first little bit. Unfortunately, I can't give it more than 2 stars, because the last bit didn't live up to that potential. I'm disappointed.
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