I’ve received several advance/publicity copies of YA books through NetGalley since I joined earlier this year, but this is the first YA title that I’ve liked enough to share here on Barks & Baking!
Chasing Power, by Sarah Beth Durst
Available to purchase on October 14, 2014.
The publisher’s blurb:
Lies, secrets, and magic — three things that define Kayla’s life.
Sixteen-year-old Kayla plans to spend her summer hanging out on the beach in Santa Barbara and stealing whatever she wants, whenever she wants it. Born with the ability to move things with her mind — things like credit cards, diamond rings, and buttons on cash registers — she has become a master shoplifter. She steals to build up a safety net, enough money for her and her mom to be able to flee if her dad finds them again. Well, that, and the thrill of using her secret talents.
But her summer plans change when she’s caught stealing by a boy named Daniel — a boy who needs her help and is willing to blackmail her to get it. Daniel has a talent of his own. He can teleport, appearing anywhere in the world in an instant, but he lies as easily as he travels. Together, they embark on a quest to find and steal an ancient incantation, written on three indestructible stones and hidden millennia ago, all to rescue Daniel’s kidnapped mother. But Kayla has no idea that this rescue mission will lead back to her own family — and to betrayals that she may not be able to forgive… or survive.
There were a few stumbling moments early on in the book, but I was fully on-board by the time Kayla and Daniel team up and start looking for the stones. The search takes them various places around the world, and while the different locations were interesting, I would have liked to see a bit more real history added into the story (it’s a great way to add to the reader’s knowledge without forcing it or being a great big info-dump.) Kayla is pretty decisive for a YA character, and not naive, which is refreshing. She also is very good at putting major issues in context and acting accordingly – as evidenced by her reactions to the events toward the end of the book.
Kayla’s best friend, Selena, is a strong secondary character, and I love the dichotomy of how she acts with the rest of the world versus how she is around her family. It’s easy to write supporting characters that are one-dimensional/stereotypes who are only there to interact with the main characters, but I think it’s particularly important in YA books to support the idea that people are multi-faceted and may have a mix of more and less desirable characteristics, and that even the most put-together appearances may go hand-in-hand with personal struggles. That being said, I think that Daniel could have been written better – he felt a bit flat to me, and the scenes that I surmise were supposed to add “depth” to his character really didn’t. The “cocky-to-hide-his-vulnerability” thing was overplayed, he was very single-minded throughout the book (“must. find. mother.”) He basically gets a pass whenever he acts like a jerk, whereas Kayla and Selena dealt with things more maturely.
I’d say this falls at a 3.5/5 stars on my scale. I probably won’t re-read it, but it’s one I’ll probably recommend to other YA readers looking for new reading material.