Monday, July 16, 2012

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥: Riser by Becca Smith

Release Date: June 5th, 2010
Publisher: Red Frog Publishing
Page Count: 361
Source: Complimentary copy provided by author, via Innovative Online Book Tours, in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you both!!), as part of the Riser book tour

Black swirling holes churning madly in the center of every corpse. This is how eighteen-year-old Chelsan Derée sees the deceased. Her ability to connect to the black spinning holes allows her to control every dead thing within a four-mile radius.

But that's the least of her problems. It's 2320 and Chelsan Derée has to survive another year of high school, which for her is pure and utter torture, mainly due to the fact that her schoolmate Jill Forester's favorite activity is making Chelsan's life a living hell. If that isn't enough, Chelsan's impossible crush on Ryan Vaughn makes her brain do somersaults on a regular basis, especially since she is positive he doesn't know she exists. And being eighteen Chelsan has to deal with the pressure of whether or not she should take a little pill called Age-pro, which cures aging, making the world eighteen forever and highly over-populated.

When Chelsan's mother, Janet, is brutally killed, along with everyone else in her trailer park, Chelsan finds out that she was the intended target. Chelsan must use her power to raise and control the dead to save herself, protect her friends and take down the man responsible for murdering her mother.
Becca Smith is a new author for me, but I absolutely love her debut into the YA Paranormal genre. Riser is complex because it contains so many elements of suspense, romance, and dystopian havoc. As we are introduced to the various, likable (though, disappointingly static) characters, the plot propels forward. Eventually, the line between technology and the paranormal is blurred, but the action never falters.

As a whole, I would say I'm pleased by Riser. It is sentimental, entertaining, and thrilling in all the right places. The plot is SO creative and fast-paced, and it definitely makes me want to keep turning the pages. The concept of raising and controlling the dead is completely new to me. Chelsan isn't your everyday tomb-raider, and Riser isn't your everyday zombie story. Chelsan can control any living thing, weather it be goldfish or beetles or even plants, and throughout the story, she uses this skill to her advantage. In a way, it is a fresh approach to the paranormal genre because it introduces not only a supernatural dilemma, but one wrapped around a supernatural superpower.

As with most books, it isn't without flaws, however.

First and foremost, I am not impressed by the writing style. Smith's tone is often stale and sometimes just awkward. I emphasize that it is not the author's way with words that makes this book interesting. It is her ideas, her imagination, that shape it into a good read.

As a Young Adult novel, it does broach a few dark topics, but it isn't one of those shocking and scandalous YA books. Overall pretty clean; mothers, you can hand this off to your daughters. But let's be honest. From a teenager's perspective, shocking and scandalous does make for interesting, which, in turn, indicates Riser could be received as rather bland. Not the plot, no—the plot is exciting and fun. But the overall mood is placid because of how chaste it is.

I think there could be much improvement in characterization. While each of the cast members are well-defined (we know exactly who the protagonist, antagonist, best friend, love interest, et cetera are... no twisted betrayals or sudden disturbing plot turns), they all seem very superficial. The main character, Chelsan, especially. We do receive a glimpse of her innermost thoughts and insecurities, but I feel all the individual 'turmoil' is very frou-frou—just not realistic. Combined with the fact that she just happens to be super lucky SPOILER SPOILER in always finding a way out of abductions, attacks, and the like, and having boys crawl all over her despite her 'geekiness', I can't say all of it is very believable. This statement rings true for not only the action, but also for the dialogue and personal conflicts.

But thanks to the plot that continuously plows through the risky circumstances of Chelsan's deadly mission, I did enjoy this one fairly and recommend it to fans of Young Adult romance and the dystopian (futuristic) paranormal genre.

Stephanie Loves: "'We were so worried. You should have seen Ryan, he was a crazy man trying to find you.'"

Radical Rating: 7 hearts: Not without flaws, but overall enjoyable. ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥