Elana Johnson's marvelous blog for some time now. That's why I was so delighted to receive an ARC of her YA novel, Possession, which will be released in June 2011 by Simon Pulse.
I write for middle grade and younger, but I'm a big fan of YA, especially when it has compelling characters, an intriguing setting, and a conflict that makes me care. Possession has all three, and I found it hard to put down. I should also mention that I'm very picky about dystopian fiction; a lot of it leaves me cold. In spite of my unreasonable bias, Possession was captivating--it swept me right into the story.
Here's the back copy:
Vi knows the Rule: Girls don't walk with boys, and they never even think about kissing them. But no one makes Vi want to break the Rules more than Zenn...and since the Thinkers have chosen him as Vi's future match, how much trouble can one kiss cause? The Thinkers may have brainwashed the rest of the population, but Vi is determined to think for herself.
But the Thinkers are unusually persuasive, and they're set on convincing Vi to become one of them...starting by brainwashing Zenn. Vi can't leave Zenn in the Thinkers' hands, but she's wary of joining the rebellion, especially since that means teaming up with Jag. Jag is egotistical, charismatic, and dangerous--everything Zenn's not. Vi can't quite trust Jag and can't quite resist him, but she also can't give up on Zenn.
This is a game of control or be controlled. And Vi has no choice but to play.
I enjoyed the voice of Vi, the smart, sarcastic, fiercely independent narrator. Her love triangle is intriguing--she's torn between her longtime boyfriend, Zenn, and an attractive bad boy, Jag, but gradually discovers neither of them is exactly what she thought. Vi is believable as a wounded heroine, traumatized by the disappearance of her father and her sister. She also struggles with her disability--or is it a gift?--that involves sensitivity to "tech", the energy force that powers the society's technology. Johnson brings all these elements together in a fast-paced, exciting, and thought-provoking story. There were a few spots that were confusing for me--I had to do some rereading--and, in some places I would have liked a little more explanation. I won't spoil the ending, except to say it will surprise you. Although it wasn't the ending I hoped for, I loved that she went for the unexpected outcome. I'm looking forward to a sequel!