Monday, September 2, 2013

Review: Pulse - Patrick Carman

Pulse by Patrick Carman
Series: Pulse #1
Genre: YA, futuristic
Published on February 26, 2013
Published by Katherine Tegen Books
Pages: 371
Read From: 8.29.13 - 8.1.13

With the help of her mysterious classmate Dylan Gilmore, Faith Daniels discovers that she can move objects with her mind. This telekinetic ability is called a "pulse," and Dylan has the talent, too. 
Faith demonstrates her ability to use her pulse against a group of telekinesis masters who are so powerful they can flatten their enemies by uprooting streetlights, throwing boulders, and changing the course of a hurtling hammer so that it becomes a deadly weapon. But even with her unusual talent, the mind - and the heart - can be difficult to control. If Faith wants to join forces with Dylan and save the world, she'll have to harness the power of both.


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? Admittedly, it was the cover that first caught my interest. A floating tree isn't something one sees every day. That and it also eerily looks like the cover of Insurgent (hmmm). Here's a fun activity for you guys. Hold Pulse and Insurgent up to each other. Deja vu? No; they're just that similar.

Characters: I am saving the protagonist for last, and beginning with Hawk, the nerdy little dude who also has a tendency of talking way too much and cracking jokes that, in the hands of a different character, might be a little funny, but were mostly annoying in this. I liked Hawk literally for half a second. And then he started invading the two main girls' personal space and sniffing their perfume and their grape bubblegum-scented breath and eyeing their bottoms in tight jeans . . . Um, when did creepy little twerp become a positive trait in potential friends? After that, I just knew that Hawk was one of those geeks who used his ridiculous techie talents to hack into people's personal lives and probably access porno, and it's impossible for me to feeling anything but revulsion for such a slimy little creature. Wade is a jerk, and at least we're supposed to agree with this feeling. But he is so obviously a jerk that not only is he no fun to hate, but it also calls into question our protagonist's good sense. You have to be completely brain dead to want to hang out with a guy like Wade - and his inexplicably power-hungry sister Clara, whose obsession with power and force was so ridiculous that she could audition to be the next Sith Lord (and yes, she was that horribly cliche as well). Then there's Liz, our protagonist's best friend. I didn't really care either way about Liz, until the Author introduced her obsession with touch. And just the way the Author talked about Liz's attraction to how things feel running through her hands came across as majorly creepy. Now, my mind does not jump in that direction in general. Something has to come across as seriously wrong for my radar to go up. Liz touching things and holding Faith's hand and dating the guy she did simply because his hands were softer than a baby's bottom . . . . It just felt so very wrong. And I am not the sort of person who, when seeing two girls holding hands, I think they're a couple. I have nothing against best friends holding hands. But in this case, it felt like it was supposed to be more. Dylan, the obvious love interest, was okay. Yeah, he watched Faith sleep every night and had a tendency of stalking people, but compared to everyone else in the book, he really didn't seem all that creepy. He was quiet, matter of fact, kept to himself, and just didn't really do anything that set off alarm bells. Though he was described as looking like a skater dude and had a bad propensity towards wearing V-neck T-shirts, that isn't how I pictured him. So Dylan, at least, I liked relatively well. As for Faith, the protagonist. Talk about a bland heroine, not to mention pretty flaky. I got really tired of her drooling over tall people, tight jeans, and going off with complete strangers when common sense screamed, "Hold it right there, missy! Are you begging for something bad to happen to you? Again?" Yes, because the very first time Faith just goes off with someone, something bad happens to her. So what does she do? Goes off again with someone she doesn't know, in the middle of night! Brilliant, Faith, just brilliant. Other than her magnificent lack of street smarts, she was just dull. There wasn't much of a personality in her, even though the Author kept insisting that she had all of these traits. Sorry, but I didn't see 'em.

The Romance: There are two love triangles: Wade, Faith, and Dylan. And then Clara, Dylan, and Faith. Wade likes Faith, and Faith thinks she likes Wade for a while, but then discovers that Dylan is way hotter (the book's words, not mine). Clara likes Dylan, but Dylan likes Faith. Oh, and Hawk has a crush on Faith as well, because she's just totally the best-looking girl in the school and everyone is just dying to date her. There's a bit of posturing between Wade and Dylan, but Wade does most of it and Dylan just kind of ignores him (smart boy). Clara dreams of power and having Dylan at her side while she takes over the world - because she hates her twin brother for some reason that isn't made clear. Faith, thankfully, doesn't spend too much time drooling over Dylan's looks. I was actually surprised at how few eye-humping sessions there were. Except when the narration switched viewpoints and one of the guy characters was oodling Faith's butt. Evidence that this was written by a male author, I suppose. For the most part, the romance itself didn't bother me all that much. I didn't get why Faith liked Wade so much, since it was so glaringly obvious that he was a jerk, and I knew that she and Dylan would end up together eventually. The romance between Faith and Dylan happens fast and with very little actual emotion. That is, the Reader doesn't feel their attachment. The Author states that it's there, but I didn't tune into it at all. It was flat.

Plot: You will have noticed that the official synopsis is pretty vague. I think this is because the person writing it didn't know what the book was about any more than I do. I expected a dystopian novel with teens finding out about their amazing powers and having to face down a government. That's not exactly what happens, so the Author should get points for originality, right? Well, maybe, except that whatever new idea he chose wasn't made very clear in the book. The year is 2051. Global warming has wiped out a good portion of the population (of the world, I think, not just the US, though that isn't made entirely clear). In order to save what remains of humanity, a brilliant scientist had the idea of creating these bio-dome-like places called States. They are basically massive cities contained in force fields, where people live in perfect little houses and in perfectly clean and safe cities. So global warming doesn't spread, things like fossil fuels are outlawed. But not everyone lives in these States. Some have chosen to live outside of them. But because this well-intentioned governmental body (that isn't explained, either) is so benevolent and only wants what's best for humanity, they have supplied the world with Tablets (no, the Author doesn't bother to change the name, which is both good and bad), so the outsiders can be monitored and sent "this is what you're missing" propaganda films that really aren't propaganda at all. And when an outsider decides to go into the city, they can contact the States and this friendly regime sends white vans out to collect them. I kept waiting for something sinister; it didn't come. I also kept waiting for it to be explained why living outside of the States was such a bad thing. No one was starving, kids were still being educated, they had homes - it all seemed perfectly fine outside of the States. Faith Daniels is living outside of the States, and when she starts attending a new school, she meets Wade and Clara - unbelievably tall and beautiful twin brother and sister. Faith also meets Hawk, the creepy little hacker who we're supposed to think is cute and funny, and Dylan - the quiet kid of the school who is labeled as a troublemaker, even though he doesn't seem to cause any trouble whatsoever. Pulse takes a hefty 175+ pages to actually get into Faith and Dylan's amazing telekinetic powers. The first 175 pages are spent on daily life at the school, interjecting ineffective bits of foreshadowing, and not explaining the economics/politics/structure of this futuristic 2051 America. And when we finally get to learn about the telekinetic stuff (which is the only thing Readers will care about), it's pretty lame. Laughable, in fact. It's just . . . silly. Nothing like The Darkest Minds. The rules feel like they were made up on the spot, sudden plot twists are revealed that just come across as pathetic attempts at - well, a plot twist, there's more worthless foreshadowing, and then the whole book dissolves into - you guessed it! Futuristic Summer Olympics! Just what I want to read about in a story with telekinesis! Boredom went straight to sheer agony. I wanted to scrape my nails across my brain; at least the pain caused by such an act would have been more interesting than the sharp headache pounding against my skull from dullness.

Believability: If you're going to go with a natural disaster scenario, don't choose global warming. Whether you believe it's real or not, as soon as an Author goes with global warming, it automatically feels like they're pedaling their personal political opinions, and no Reader likes that. And this whole idea that the nations of the world will come together to save humanity in such a crisis is laughable. Sorry, but nations don't work like that. Something happens to weaken a country, another country is there to take advantage of that. And can I just say: a huge, thoroughly clean city? Really? Cities aren't clean! They are some of the dirtiest places on Earth!

Writing Style: Third person, past tense. However, the point of view kept changing mid-narration. One minute, we would be following Faith's thoughts and feelings (in third person), and then we would suddenly be receiving Hawk's thoughts and feelings. The writing style itself really felt juvenile. The Author tried too hard to create a sense of foreboding without actually delivering on that. He kept hinting at higher powers, people working behind the curtain, ominous dealings, and it all fell flat. The dialogue felt like something a kid would write - or an adult who was trying to write what they thought was believable teen dialogue, when in fact all of their expressions have gone out of fashion several years ago. When he tried to sound profound, that's exactly what it sounded like: a writer trying to sound profound.

Content: 4 s-words

Conclusion: It was just silly. Just absolutely hilarious - and it's not supposed to be. There was one plot twist that did surprise me - [Spoiler] Liz's death [End spoiler] - but that was it. If Pulse hadn't left me feeling so bored, I might actually care that there were questions that were not answered: how exactly to Wire Codes work? How can a string of computer code (which is what Wire Codes were, I think) become a drug that actually affects the mind like cocaine or meth? What's the political regime exactly? So if the rebels aren't wanting to get rid of the States, who exactly are they fighting? What's this about Clara and Wade being invincible against everything except living things? Okay, that deserves double question marks. The bottom line is, though, that I didn't care about any of the characters, nor the plot, nor the world, so I don't even care that these questions aren't answered. Will I read Book #2? Only if you pay me.

Recommended Audience: Guy-read, sixteen-and-up.

Others in This Trilogy:

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