Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Strangelets by Michelle Gagnon

TITLE: Strangelets
AUTHOR: Michelle Gagnon
PUBLISHER/YEAR: Soho Teen / April 9, 2013
SOURCE: For Review From Publisher via Netgalley

Goodreads / Author's Website

Strangelets was definitely a weird read for me. I pretty much went into it blind, like I'm pretty sure I read the summary when I requested in on netgalley, but by the time I actually got around to reading it I had totally forgotten what it was. And you know what? I'm really glad I did. I think the book was far more enjoyable precisely because I had no idea what was going on half the time. Just trust me, it worked with the story. Now full disclosure, I'm not the  biggest fan of thrillers. I'm drawn to character driven novels and if the character development isn't strong, I'm out. Thrillers and mysteries, well they're okay in small doses, but they just don't always do it for me. So it definitely took me awhile to get into Gagnon's Strangelets. 

So three teenagers are basically about to die. Declan has a gun pointed to his head in an alley in Galway, Anat is trapped in a tunnel between Israel and Egypt while Sophie is dying of cancer in a Californian hospice. As they're about to die these three strangers are sucked into spinning vortexes and are transported to well, a sort of post apocalyptic world filled with deadly creatures and very few humans and as the back cover says "As the truth comes to light through the eyes of Sophie, Declan, and Anat, the reader is taken on a dark and unforgettable journey into the hearts of teens who must decide what to do with a second chance at life."

I have mixed feelings about Strangelets, but let's just start with the criticisms to get them out of the way. There's some science fiction involved, time travel, that kind of thing and while there's some sort of explanation it just doesn't seem like quite enough, although I did like Gagnon's use of the many worlds theory. I wish I could go into a bit more detail, but I really don't want to spoil things for you guys. 

The world building was also a little weak. Gagnon has created this world that's like our own, but it basically decimated. That having been said, there are other creatures that have survived, but we have no idea how or where they came from. I was just left with so many questions about how this world came to be. Like I said, I think this part of the story could have been a bit more flushed out. 

That having been said, Strangelets is an excellent example of a thriller novel. It was fast paced and had my heart pounding. I was compelled to read it quickly because there came a certain point in the novel where I had to know what going to happen to these characters. The chase scenes worked, the drawn out mystery worked. Like, this was a book that really kept me guessing until the end and I like that! I think that's why this book worked, it wasn't predictable.

The premise is also super unique. Three teens who should be dead are trapped in this crazy ass world and have no idea how they got there. I liked seeing these characters reactions to their circumstances. I mean, I would have loved to see more of that kind of thing, but like I said, not really that kind of book. But I mean, for the genre, these were well drawn characters with varying reactions to some very trying times. 

I could have done without the romance and the ending felt a little rushed, but overall, this was a strong read. I'm glad I broke out of my comfort zone for this book because I ended up enjoying it. Sure it's not my most memorable read of the year, but it was like a fast paced thrill ride. Sort of like a popcorn movie, but with a little more substance. If you're looking for a dystopian-ish novel with a unique premise, I'd recommend Strangelets.

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