I can’t remember when this book caught my eye, but when it did, it did so for two reasons: the awesome premise and the sheer amount of hype for this book on Good Reads. It was review after review of people who’d had access to the first 100 pages and were all anxious to see the rest. Gotta say? The hype was worth it. Worth in the ‘this is one of my favorite books of the year and may end up in my top 5’ sense. Seriously.
The premise here is simple: what if you lived in a world where you suddenly became Extra Ordinary (i.e. gained some kind of superhuman ability). It’s a concept that has been played with before, usually in the comic format. Here though, what’s so fascinating about the whole affair is how firmly the book plants itself in solidly gray territory. There’s a protagonist and antagonist, but no heroes, or even anti-heroes. The closest we even get to a “good guy” are some support characters who know what is going on is wrong, but still go with it anyway because it ultimately serves some need of theirs. In a major way, this is a study of human nature.
And it’s fascinating for it.
We see anger, jealousy, self-loathing, rejection, god complexes, weariness, a girl coming into her own identity, obsession, manipulation, regret, guilt. I’m sure I’m missing a few, but you get the point. The plot, as relatively simple as it is – Victor wants revenge on Eli – serves as a great platform for her to look at these characters.
Most of the time when media looks at people who come into special powers the focus is on the powers and learning to use them, because quite frankly that’s what is easy to show. Victoria Schwab doesn’t take that easy route and as a result writes a wonderful character study.
Finally, this book is a one and done and I applaud the author for it. Don’t get me wrong. I love these characters. They’re fascinating and I’d love to read more. But their story is done. To try and pull it out would dilute it and I think she recognized that. In an era where it seems like writers are being forced to write series so that publishers can squeeze every last penny out of readers, it’s awesome to see a great stand alone book be allowed to stand alone.
So yeah. Go read this. You need to read this. You can thank me later.
Verdict: Buy it.