Saturday, September 17, 2011

Rippler by Cidney Swanson (REVIEW)

An engaging superpower story, RIPPLER is extremely implausible at times but leads up to a fun, exciting conclusion. The rest of the story, though? Rather meh.

Samantha Ruiz has a freak gene that turns her invisible. She can’t control it, and it’s getting worse. Afraid of becoming a lab-rat, Sam keeps her ability secret, until fellow runner Will Baker sees her vanish into thin air. Will promises secrecy and help, and Sam begins to fall in love.

Together, the two discover there are worse things than being a scientific curiosity. Someone’s been killing people who possess Sam's gene. A mysterious man from France sends letters that offer hope for safety, but also reveal a sinister connection with Nazi experiments.

The more time Sam spends with Will, the less she can imagine life without him. When Sam uncovers secrets from her past, she must choose between keeping Will in her life or keeping Will safe.

RIPPLER by Cidney Swanson is one of those interesting cases in books to me. On one hand, it was boring and implausible. On the other, it was interesting and kept me thinking and waiting for more. Let me preface this review by stating that my rating is skewed up because of circumstances even I don’t understand (actually, I’m feeling nice today), but this book is the type that will split reviewers down the middle between love and hate. I find myself on that fence, leaning one direction or the other depending on the moment.

The story is a first person past tense narrative of Sam, a girl living in California who suffers from a disease that causes her to disappear for a few minutes at a time. Needless to say, this is not convenient, but mysteriously she finds that one of her friends and cross-country teammates is very knowledgeable about her condition. In fact, his sister researched it with a scientist and he knows all about it and how dangerous it can be. Not the disease itself, which is actually REALLY awesome, but the people who are going to want to hunt her down and study her. Dozens of people with the disease have already been murdered, and Sam appears to be next on their hit list.

So you want to know why I was iffy about this story? I’m going to make a list and in making this list, I might start swaying back towards a lower grade.

1.) The disease is one giant superpower with no drawbacks. Slight spoiler, but Rippling is not just turning invisible. Nope. It’s turning invisible, going intangible, super speed, halted aging, and telepathy. And once Sam is shown how to use it, she’s basically an expert overnight. No limits to use, no disappearing fingers or toes. Her hair gets stuck in a wall once but that just blows the wall apart. Not a big drawback.

2.) The characterization. The characters…fall flat. I liked Sam to an extent, and Mickie as well, but Will was just blah. His role in the story was love interest and companion. His personality was just meh.

3.) The writing. Well, not much of an iffy, but it was just okay. There were things I wanted to edit out but luckily the story was otherwise well edited and composed.

So what did I like? I enjoyed the premise, the setting, and the action. I wanted to know more about the villains, but that is what book two is for, right? I will give this book one thing that helped the grade go up. The last 20% of the book was where everything really happened, meaning the last 20% was actually pretty awesome. We meet the villains, there are problems, there is stupidity on the part of the characters. It sets up a second book nicely and really makes up for the 80% of randomness and stodgy pacing. This book would have been rated solidly higher if the last 20% had carried over into the rest of the book.

This book needed a heavy dose of more action and less “OMG this power is AWESOME!” We are told it’s something that people will kill over yet all Sam does is play around with her power and use it recklessly many times, just because. So does the other character we find with this same power. It’s somewhat dull, but I did like the ending.

VERDICT: With a solid and engaging ending, RIPPLER goes into book 2 well situated, but the series begins rather haphazardly with a clunky beginning and lots of implausibility. A good book. 3.5 hearts rounded up.


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