Monday, July 2, 2012

Review: Riser by Becca C. Smith

Title: Riser
Series: The Riser Saga, Book 1
Author: Becca C. Smith
Publisher: Publisher House if available
Length: Number of Pages, Word Count, File Size, etc.
Publication Date: June 5, 2010
Available Format: Paperback, Kindle Edition, eBook
Source: Supplied by the author through IO Book Tours
My Rating: ★★★☆☆
Get it @: Amazon | Book Depository

Book Description:

Black swirling holes churning madly in the center of every corpse. This is how eighteen-year-old Chelsan Derée sees the deceased. Her ability to connect to the black spinning holes allows her to control every dead thing within a four-mile radius.

But that's the least of her problems. It's 2320 and Chelsan Derée has to survive another year of high school, which for her is pure and utter torture, mainly due to the fact that her schoolmate Jill Forester's favorite activity is making Chelsan's life a living hell. If that isn't enough, Chelsan's impossible crush on Ryan Vaughn makes her brain do somersaults on a regular basis, especially since she is positive he doesn't know she exists. And being eighteen Chelsan has to deal with the pressure of whether or not she should take a little pill called Age-pro, which cures aging, making the world eighteen forever and highly over-populated.

When Chelsan's mother, Janet, is brutally killed, along with everyone else in her trailer park, Chelsan finds out that she was the intended target. Chelsan must use her power to raise and control the dead to save herself, protect her friends and take down the man responsible for murdering her mother.

Chelsan is an 18 year old living in L.A. in the year 2320. Although some technology breakthroughs have allowed civilization to have some wicked technology, life pretty much remains the same. Except for one tiny detail… Immortality comes in the shape of a pill. You read it right; the secret for immortality has been breached and encapsulated for public consumption.

But Chelsan, our protagonist, has other things on her plate to be worrying about looking youthful forever. A high school student, Chelsan has to deal with the everyday hassle of being the “poor” scholarship kid at an elite, private school. And if that isn’t enough to give nightmares to most people, Chelsan has to also deal with a dark secret, a power that she knows little about, the ability to raise the dead.

I could’ve done better with less angst. Personally I don’t enjoy love triangles, I cannot think of a single one that hasn’t frustrated me (in a “I want to stop reading” kind of way). They just make characters feel shallow, even if they are not. I love romance in books; PNR is one of my favorite genres. That said, when you are in a character’s head and said character keeps debating the proverbial “loves me, loves me not” it distracts you from the story.

However, the thing that I enjoyed the most about the story was its social critic. Chelsan lives in a future where everyone can effectively live forever. They are lucky that society discovered Age-Pro (the miracle pill) when there was still time to save our ecosystems. The major issue, society wise, is overpopulation; and there are some serious drastic measures in place to ensure “quality” living worldwide.

Although this is a sci-fi novel, let’s remove the fiction elements for a bit and see what we are left with. Worldwide population has reached such an all-time high placing such a strain on natural resources that the priorities of all nations have irrevocably shifted.

Some quotes from the book:
“Once the International Law of 2142 was passed requiring the planting of a tree every twenty feet, most people decided to re-plant near extinct trees like the California Oak.” 
“The first law to be passed was in 2068 that outlawed anything printed on paper.” “Only e-books were legal. But it just wasn’t enough. There just wasn’t enough plant life on the Earth to sustain the amount of people inhabiting it so they had to make planting more trees a worldwide law.”

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