Freaks of Nature

by Wendy Brotherlin

Review by KM

I’m a lover of supernatural “freak” main characters. When reading the summary, I was instantly reminded of Misfits, the amazing television show. Having a dud ability typically leads to hilarious mishaps and I couldn’t wait to read more.

Summary

The global Ebola-X pandemic of 2022 lasted five months, two weeks, and six days before a cure could be found. In its wake, it left a generation of psionic freaks, who can turn a single thought into a weapon…or worse. Fifteen-year-old Devon McWilliams is one of those freaks, but Devon rates a big fat zero on the scale of cool psychic abilities. Days after escaping from his psionic detainment facility, the military intercepts him. Regaining consciousness, Devon finds himself restrained aboard a military airship headed toward certain death. Aboard this one-way flight to doom are six other psions. One of them, a telepath named Bai Lee Chen, claims to have the means to escape. All the others have to do is convince her that they’re worthy of freedom by allowing her to telepathically replay their memories. The last thing Devon wants to do is reveal his useless plant-talking prowess to this destroy-you-with-a-thought crew. To complicate matters further, he’s crushing hard on Alya, the group’s lovely healer. Devon knows he must keep his wits about him if he’s going to survive this wild ride. And that’s going to be a tricky thing to do around a telepath who seems to have a diabolical agenda all her own.

Musings

There were some good things and some bad things about this book.

The action scenes were written terrifically. I was immediately absorbed into the fights; I was connecting with her characters and wanted them all to win. It was great. My favorite had to been Vahn. He was by far the most compelling. I suspect this is going to be written into a series, so I’m hoping there is a book centered around him completely.

The writing style flowed well, too. The entire book took me around two hours, sitting in the car waiting for my husband to get out of work. It was the perfect book to read on the go; it fast enough for a one-day read, but intriguing enough to keep you involved in the story.

Now for the not so good:

As my friend phrased it so well, this story suffers from exposition-itis. Seventy percent of those brilliant fight scenes and characterizations are all the character’s memories. If I had to boil down the entire plot, which I will not do because it’d be full of spoilers, I’d be left with four sentences. I understand why it was done this way. It’s an easy method to get out a lot of back-story, making future books in the series able to summarize, rather than spell it all out once again.

All of these main characters are described as “hot” or “gorgeous”. These are fifteen to eighteen year olds. Now, I’m not saying we didn’t have some beautiful people in high school, but five out of five is really pushing the limit. Where are teenagers with braces, acne-ridden faces, and slumped shoulders? Teenagers are gawky, self-conscious creatures; I saw very little of that here.

While teenagers are quick to form crushes, I did think this took it a bit far. I googled the average flight from Mexico to Washington: it’s four and a half hours long. Within two hours of being on this flight, where they’re worried about surviving, quite a few characters were exhibiting signs of gooey-eyed infatuation. I’m sorry; please prioritize your life before your love life.

I don’t want to come off sounding like it’s a bad book. I know I’ll be first in line to buy Vahn’s book, if he ends up getting one. It was certainly a quick read and a fun one.

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