Friday, November 4, 2016

Charisma by Jeanne Ryan (Review)

YA, Thriller, Science Fiction
Publication Date:March 3, 2015
Published By: Dial Books
Review copy:Won   
Buy it:
Amazon ~ B&N ~ Chapters

A chance at the ultimate makeover means deadly consequences in this Sarah Dessen-meets-Robin Cook thriller

Aislyn suffers from crippling shyness—that is, until she’s offered a dose of Charisma, an underground gene therapy drug guaranteed to make her shine. The effects are instant. She’s charming, vivacious, and popular. But strangely, so are some other kids she knows. The media goes into a frenzy when the disease turns contagious, and then deadly, and the doctor who gave it to them disappears. Aislyn must find a way to stop it, before it's too late.

  I drive, wishing I could deal with my own damn shyness.  I should be able to stuff some nurture down nature's throat and get beyond my DNA.  People change.  And they write books about it.  Why can't I?
I could swear I feel the contents of the syringe flow up my arm.  Even though I can hardly wait not to be shy, a tight panic fills my chest.  Oh, wow, I've really done this.
"Wow, you really have changed."
  For some reason, his words rankle.  "Only my behaviours, not what I'm really about," I say.
  He bites his lip.  "What exactly is the difference?"

  I was totally psyched last year for this read.  I loved the cover, the premise sounded interesting and then I got lucky and won myself a copy.  Then, as the sad story goes others came alone and Charisma got put on the back burner.  Admittedly it drew my attention many times, and I longed to read it and hold its pretty cover and then finally it happened.  It was a beautiful and glorious moment when I finally managed to crack the cover.

  It's hard to say if it was the anticipation or what it was but I really found myself hooked.  Ryan wasted no time getting things in gear, quickly setting out Aislyn's character.  It was beyond easy to get a feel for why the risk was worth it for her, and to understand her faith in gene therapy.  This also made every single page more addicting than the next.  There were a few points that I thought that the book had reached its climax, and worried that there was going to be a wicked plateau.  Thing is that it never came.  No matter how fast the plot moved there was always one more twist waiting to keep the ball rolling.  A few things I found a little predictable, but I think that sometimes that isn't always a bad thing and it worked for Charisma.  It was almost like there was multiple elements swirling together but realistically there wasn't, and it was just excellently written.

  So often we see a main character that wants nothing more than to be something a little different.  Prettier, smarter, sit higher on the social circle and so many other things.  I guess what made Aislyn a memorable character for me, was that she had the potential to be all of these things and more.  She simply wasn't because she had a crippling social disability.  This on its own may not seem like anything special but it made her actions entirely more believable.  There was a acceptance that settled over me when it came to her choice to do something that may have otherwise been out of character.  Though the results were undeniable, there was as always consequences to her actions, and despite her believing it would only effect her but there was so much more at stake.  However, I guess sometimes the risk has to be taken.

  There was a beauty in the way all of the secondary characters were woven into Charisma.  Everyone from Aislyn's mom, to her best (kind of only) friend, to all of the other people she knew at Nova Genetics hold their own in this story.  You would think with so many of the "little people" always in play you would lose some of the clarity in those characters, but you don't.  Ryan managed to give each person no mater how small of a part they play their own voice, their own face.   Each person playing their own part in Aislyn's life before and after her risk.  I particularly loved Sammy her brother and Shane, the douche-bag turned something more.

  Charisma did't let me down.  Admittedly I was worried that I wouldn't get that into it, but that worry washed away so quickly.   The plot was expertly woven and paced out better than I could have ever imagined or wished for.  In my personal opinion there was never a dull moment and I believe readers that are like me will have a hard time putting it down.  If you are looking for a thriller with an almost sci-fi twist look no further than Charisma, it has the magnetism to pull you from the first pages.

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