Thursday, May 7, 2015

Review: Strangelets - Michelle Gagnon

Strangelets by Michelle Gagnon
Genre: YA, science fiction, alternate reality
Published on April 9, 2013
Published by Soho
Pages: 288
Read From: 4.15.15 - 4.18.15

17-year-old Sophie lies on her deathbed in California losing her battle with cancer. . . . 
17-year-old Declan stares down two armed thugs in a back alley in Galway, Ireland. . . . 
18-year-old Anat is caught in a booby-trapped tunnel between Israel and Egypt. . . . 
All three strangers should have died at the exact same moment, thousands of miles apart. Instead, they awaken together in an abandoned hospital - only to discover that they're not alone. Three other teens from different places around the globe are trapped with them. Somebody or something seems to be pulling the strings. With their individual clocks ticking, they must band together if they're to have any hope of surviving. 
Soon they discover that they've been trapped in a future that isn't of their making: a deadly, desolate world at once entirely familiar and utterly strange. Each teen harbors a secret, but only one holds they key that could get them home. As the truth behind the disaster that built this strange world comes to light, Sophie, Declan, Anat, and the rest must decide what to do with a second chance at life - if they can survive to claim it.


Dear Strangelets,

My first encounter with your author’s writing - Don’t Turn Around - didn’t leave me with a very favorable impression. But you sounded so good, and did not ask me to commit to a series. So I thought I would give you a chance. Sadly, my impression was similar to the one I had of Don’t Turn Around.

Six teens roughly the same age all wake up one day in a strange, deserted hospital. They are all from different parts of the world and different walks of life; they are also all complete strangers. But aside from their ages, they all have one thing in common: They were on the brink of death when they suddenly woke up in the hospital. Now, these six have to trust and rely on each other as they venture into a world similar, yet totally different, from the one they knew. Everything is deserted - as if everyone disappeared right in the middle of their day. Strange creatures lurk in the dark; and as they piece together the truth, they begin to realize that they may be stuck.

Your premise, Strangelets, is awesome, and you keep the suspense going page after page. However. After a short while, your twist became painfully obvious - and it was sort of a letdown. You became more and more like a bad ‘60s sci-fi flick that Mystery Science Theater 3000 would make fun of. It got to the point where I was rolling my eyes and sniggering.

And the characters were hardly likable or even sympathetic. I wouldn’t go so far as to call them cardboard. But I sincerely did not care about them. I was indifferent to Declan and Sophie, and I wanted to smack Nico and Anat for being so rude and jerky. Yosh and Zain were okay, but not enough to make up for everything else.

But the clincher was your ending, Strangelets. [Spoiler] These teens have taken a jaunt into an alternate reality and then get returned - not to their original timeline/dimension, but a parallel one that is similar in most ways. Except Anat’s fiance is a terrorist. And even though I didn’t like her much, I thought it was rotten she didn’t get a happy ending while everyone else did. And what about Declan’s forever girlfriend Katie? Is she not in this parallel? Did he dump her for Sophie? Or did he just go off without seeing her at all? And how rotten is that?! [End spoiler]

I wanted to like you, Strangelets, but you were just meh. With that tidy, disappointing ending, you left me wondering what the point was.

Feeling disappointed,
~ Mara A. ~

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