Book Review: Struck by Jennifer Bosworth

Struck by Jennifer BosworthMia Price is a lightning addict. She’s survived countless strikes, but her craving to connect to the energy in storms endangers her life and the lives of those around her.

Los Angeles, where lightning rarely strikes, is one of the few places Mia feels safe from her addiction. But when an earthquake devastates the city, her haven is transformed into a minefield of chaos and danger. The beaches become massive tent cities. Downtown is a crumbling wasteland, where a traveling party moves to a different empty building each night, the revelers drawn to the destruction by a force they cannot deny. Two warring cults rise to power, and both see Mia as the key to their opposing doomsday prophecies. They believe she has a connection to the freak electrical storm that caused the quake, and to the far more devastating storm that is yet to come.

Mia wants to trust the enigmatic and alluring Jeremy when he promises to protect her, but she fears he isn’t who he claims to be. In the end, the passion and power that brought them together could be their downfall. When the final disaster strikes, Mia must risk unleashing the full horror of her strength to save the people she loves, or lose everything.

Post Apocalyptic YA certainly seems to be becoming more and more popular and Struck definitely sounded a little bit different, with a synopsis that promised a lightning-addicted protagonist and two religious cults fighting for power, following an earthquake that devastates L.A.

Though nothing about the writing really captured me, Struck is easy-going. It also has, as I’ve mentioned, quite an intriguing concept, so it was a shame that nothing about the actual story stood out for me. It’s a predictable, rather formulaic YA, that had the potential to explore some exciting scenarios, and then… didn’t.

The main problem is the poor character development. Mia is likable enough, but aside from her strange, unexplained, addiction to lightning and her resolve to keep her family safe in a run-down, starving and desperate society, we don’t really know her. All the characters suffer from a lack of personality, but this particularly stands out in Jeremy, a character who, supposedly, comes to mean everything to Mia. He is your standard attractive, slightly mysterious, boy, who knows more than he’s telling. Other than following her around and warning Mia that she’s in danger, there’s very little else his character does. The lack of chemistry between Mia and Jeremy made me feel that any romance was included simply because it was expected. Just once it might be nice in these types of stories for the hero and heroine not to become romantically involved. Bosworth never succeeds in making her characters feel like real people and as such, we have two, potentially very complex, very dangerous, cult leaders, whose motivations, I felt, were never properly understood or explored.

I was particularly excited to read more about Mia’s unusual addiction to lightning. Her entire body (apart from her face), is covered in red lightning veins. She suffers from insomnia, has lost all her hair, has unintentionally hurt people, all because her body attracts, or conducts, lightning. This is the unique selling point of the book and I was disappointed that rather than focusing on this, so much of the novel zeros in on religion instead. Why is Mia drawn to storms? Why is she a magnet for lightening? How does she survive being struck multiple times, despite admitting herself it has killed her more than once? Why is there a (seemingly) general increase in violent weather? None of these questions are answered.

I feel I should warn readers that Struck is quite heavy on the religion, which will put off some people. Mia finds herself trapped between two very different, though equally dangerous, cults, who want to use her power for their own purposes. The Seekers hope to prevent the end of the world, prophesied to take place in three days time, but their motives are questionable. A man who calls himself the Prophet claims to hear the word of God. He and his Followers believe and preach that the coming apocalypse is God’s judgment to cleanse the world of sinners. Bosworth presents some interesting ideas concerning religious cults, but without the strong characters to back it up, Struck was too much of a lightweight novel to examine the questions it raises. If fire and brimstone isn’t really your thing, I would stay clear from this one.

Despite a promising concept, Struck turned out to be a sadly average read. I found it a little lackluster, the plot is fairly easy to figure out and the ending all too neatly wrapped up. Struck was also a bit too religion-heavy for me, as I suspect it will be for a lot of readers. Little things like the random reference to London Bridge having been taken apart by an enthusiast and plonked down in Lake Havasu City at some point (why? Does London no longer exist?), to Mia not remembering significant details from only a few pages previously, bugged me. Saying that, I do think Struck is very readable and easy enough to get into. Those who love the latest YA dystopians may well enjoy this too.

 Review originally posted at Mostly Reading YA

*Many thanks to Random House for sending this for review.*

Don’t just take my work for it – check out some other great reviews here:

Book Passion for Life

Book Chick City

The Book Geek

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