Rummanah Aasi
  Free will versus preordained destiny have been a subject for philosophers for centuries. This theme is also prevalent in the tropes of dystopian fiction. We can't help but feel uncomfortable when choices are made for us and we are given no freedom in any aspect of our lives. Possession by Elana Johnson poses the question: are rules made to be broken even if it means deciding between duty, family, and love? And if so, what/who do you choose? Disclaimer: This review is based on an advance readers copy of the book provided by Simon and Schuster and had no influence on my opinions of the book.

Description (from Good Reads): Vi knows the Rule: Girls don’t walk with boys, and they never even think about kissing them. But no one makes Vi want to break the Rules more than Zenn…and since the Thinkers have chosen him as Vi’s future match, how much trouble can one kiss cause? The Thinkers may have brainwashed the rest of the population, but Vi is determined to think for herself.

   But the Thinkers are unusually persuasive, and they’re set on convincing Vi to become one of them….starting by brainwashed Zenn. Vi can’t leave Zenn in the Thinkers’ hands, but she’s wary of joining the rebellion, especially since that means teaming up with Jag. Jag is egotistical, charismatic, and dangerous: everything Zenn’s not. Vi can’t quite trust Jag and can’t quite resist him, but she also can’t give up on Zenn.

This is a game of control or be controlled. And Vi has no choice but to play.

Review: I was really excited to read Possession after reading a lot of positive reviews in the blogosphere. I wished I liked it a little more than my fellow bloggers, but I was a bit disappointed. Possession has a promising premise that explores the themes of abuse of power, manipulation, and the notion of choice.
  Johnson's two leading characters, Violet and Jag, are characters that pique your curiosity. They both refuse to bow down to their society's status quo and like to think for themselves. While they come from different backgrounds and histories, they are more alike than what they seem. Both carry a dark past and talents. Though their relationship is of the instant love kind, given their meeting circumstances I can understand why. I enjoyed their banter and liked seeing them together.
   Unlike the strong characterizations of the main characters, I thought the important secondary characters were flat. We are told constantly by Violet about her feelings for a boy named Zenn, however, I didn't feel like Zenn came alive for me nor did I feel any connection to him. Thus I didn't buy the love triangle in the story. In fact a lot of the plot twists and turns seemed a bit arbitrary mostly because they involve characters that are mentioned briefly and/or don't make an impression on the reader. I can see Johnson making her points about nothing being in absolutes (i.e. nothing is black and white) and the significance of the choices that Violet and Jag make, however, there is no emotional punch to either of these issues.
   While I thought the plot was fast moving and engaging, I had a big problem with the book's editing. I felt there is a lot of key information discussed between characters off the page that weren't included, particularly Jag and Violet's early conservation when they first meet, and the notion of people having special talents in Johnson's world. I also found the chapters to abruptly end in one setting and pick up at another and in the meantime characters seem to randomly pop up. Due to the hazy world building, especially when it came to organizing and defining the different roles and statues of the authority figure, I was totally caught off guard about anyone having any abilities in the society. I felt as if I was suppose to know this information already and checked back many times throughout my reading to make sure I didn't skip a page.
  Possession is a standalone book, from what I gather from reading author interviews, and its wide open ending may deter some readers. I, personally, think the story should have been a series. Yes, I know I complain about reading many series, but I truly think that having a series would not only strengthen the plot arc but also flesh out the themes, characters, and emotions the author is trying to convey. Overall, I thought the book was okay and has similar traits as Incarceron by Catherine Fisher. If I had to choose between Possession or Incarceron, I would choose to read Incarceron instead. Possession will be available on June 7, 2011.

 Rating: 3 stars

Words of Caution: There is some language and PG-13 violence. Recommended for Grades 7 and up.

If you like this book try: Incarceron series by Catherine Fisher or Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld
3 Responses
  1. I haven't read this one, but I'm sorry you didn't enjoy it! I hate flat secondary characters: the only thing that's worse is flat primary characters.
    Brilliant review!

  2. Jenny Says:

    Sometimes Rummanah, I feel like we are the same person:) You had all the same reservations about this one as I did! I loved Vi and Jag, I thought they were well done, but I was confused about a lot of things with regard to the world. Zenn didn't do much for me either because I couldn't get a lock on him, and spent a lot of the book wondering if he truly cared for Vi and what was going on with him in general.

    I do think Elana writes main characters really well, so I'm looking forward to seeing what she comes out with next:)

  3. BookAddictedGirl: Hopefully this could be changed in revision. There is still a couple of months left before it's officially released.

    Jenny: We are book buddies afterall. :) Elana is a talented writer and I look forward to her next books. I just think this one needs some major editing and revisions.

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