Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Solid by Shelley Workinger

by Shelley Workinger

Summary: Eighteen years ago, a rogue Army doctor secretly experimented with a chromosomal drug on unknowing pregnant women. When he was killed not long after the children were born, any knowledge and evidence seemed to die with him - except for the living, breathing, human products of his work.

Almost two decades later, the newly self-proclaimed "open-book" military unearths the truth about the experiment, bringing Clio Kaid and the other affected teens to a state-of-the-art, isolated campus where they soon discover that C9x did indeed alter their chromosomes, its mutations presenting as super-human abilities. The military kids, who come from across the nation and all walks of life, come into their own as lighter-than-air 'athletes'; 'indies' as solid as stone walls; teens who can make themselves invisible and others who can blind with their brilliance.

While exploring her own special ability, forging new friendships and embarking on first love, Clio also stumbles onto information indicating that the military may not have been entirely forthcoming with them and that all may not be as it seems...

I’m not quite sure what to say about this one, I did really like it; it was fun, I loved the idea of the story and the characters amused me… but there was just something about it that was kind of a miss with me.

I think it may have been the time frame of the story. The whole thing happens in about one week - if I’m remembering correctly - and so, while I was entertained by the book, I wasn’t really convinced about some things to do with the characters.

Bliss was adorable, Miranda was annoying but weirdly likeable in spite of that, Garrett made me laugh and wish I had a friend like him… then there was Jack, as a love interest, he was awesome; he was really sweet and seemed like one of those genuinely good guys, which makes a change from all of the books I’ve been reading where the protagonist falls for the bad boy of the story.

Clio, I really liked her, she didn’t bore me and I liked that she was realistic -- she wasn’t portrayed as weak and she didn’t suddenly turn into super girl just because she had a special ability, she was firmly in the middle ground and I liked that; she was a good protagonist.

The reason I’m saying this is because I honestly did like the characters, but somehow I didn’t feel any connection to them and because of that, where I should have been feeling fear or sadness or some sort of empathy for what they were going through, I didn’t feel anything.

I wasn’t really convinced by their relationships with each other either, they didn’t seem to spend that much time together and yet after a week they’re all like best friends. The romance especially didn’t work for me - which is odd because that’s often my favourite part of books - Jack was lovely and Clio was awesome and I was rooting for them to get together but it didn’t feel real or like they had much chemistry.

I guess the circumstances they were in may have been a catalyst for the bonds they formed, but their relationships still felt kind of flat and unconvincing to me, like they weren’t developed naturally and we were told that they had this great bond without being properly shown. Maybe if the book was longer and set over a slightly longer period of time (maybe a few weeks or a month), it would’ve been different.

Now to the more positive things. I was hooked on the story from the start and even though I figured out/guessed a few of the twists long before the characters did, there were still elements that totally surprised me which was great. The story managed to get this awesome balance where it could have this sci-fi element to it but still seem totally realistic and believable to the point where I was convinced this kind of thing could actually happen. (And I really loved the setting… just thought I’d throw that out there -- the secret army base thing totally brought the awesome.)

Sorry this review has been kind of scattered -- it’s difficult to review a book you liked while explaining what it was that prevented you from loving it. But anyway, I recommend the book and I really want to read the sequel (and maybe some of the issues I had with this one will be sorted out in the sequel, once the characters/relationships have more time to develop).

Rating (which I don’t normally add, but since the review was kind of mixed, I figured it would give you a better idea of my overall opinion): 3.5/4 stars out of 5, leaning more towards 4.


P.s. Please note that the whole not connecting to the character thing could just be a me-thing, I've seen some other reviews from people who loved the book and didn't have the same issue. =P


  1. Interesting review. It's so hard to not only create compelling characters, but to animate them in a way that makes the reader care. Each character should stand for something essential, yet the underpinnings of that scaffold cannot show. The people have to live organically in the story, and spark off one another.

  2. Great review! I'm putting this book on my wish list. I usually have to put the book away if I cannot seem to connect with the characters at all but perhaps I won't feel the same way?



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