Dark Visions: The Strange Power, The Possessed, The Passion by L J Smith
|Dark Visions: The Strange Power, The Possessed, The Passion by L J Smith|
|Reviewer: Robert James|
|Summary: Superb teen supernatural fiction with vividly drawn characters and enough romance and action to enthrall anyone.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 656||Date: September 2009|
|Publisher: Simon and Schuster Children's Books|
|External links: Author's website|
Kaitlyn Fairchild has always known she was different. She's able to draw things that haven't happened yet - although the drawings are never specific enough to be of any use. Worse, they scare people, as do her weird eyes. So, when she's given the opportunity to go away to an Institute where she, and four other teens with other powers, will be trained to control their abilities, she jumps at the chance. After meeting charismatic healer Rob, psychokinetic Lewis, and Anna, who can talk to the animals, she already feels at home. Even the addition of the fifth teen, convicted murderer Gabriel, can't dull her happiness.
But then she starts to realise that something is wrong at the Institute, perhaps not everyone is as trustworthy as she'd like them to be, and in the wrong hands, the teens' powers could be a terrible weapon. There's another complication as both Rob and Gabriel are interested in her, and she finds out that Gabriel has a terrible secret. Things get even worse when an impulsive action leaves the five teens trapped in a mind link, with all of them able to hear each other's thoughts, and no way of breaking the link unless one of them dies.
I read a reasonably high amount of teen fantasy books and this trilogy stands out as vastly superior to the majority of the books in the genre. It's extremely briskly paced, with the action coming thick and fast from the first few chapters of the opening book and never slowing down until the superb climax. The dialogue is also especially strong, with each of the five teens' voices being markedly different. Smith also pulls off a balancing act between the central romance and the fight against the villains very well, always managing to keep both in the foreground of the story.
Perhaps the biggest plus point, though, is the way that the teens' friendship develops over the course of the three books and that much of the success they have against the bad guys is due to their feelings for each other and the unity they show. In fact, this is a bigger part of their teamwork than their actual powers, at most times. Also, the character development shown in the books is excellent for stories of their length - the main characters, especially the three in the central love triangle, grow and mature through their experiences extremely realistically.
The three books were originally released as stand alones in the mid 90's but I'm glad I didn't read them in that format - I don't think I could have coped with a gap of months in between each of the three installments! My original plan for the weekend was to try book one on Saturday afternoon, get on with a pile of marking, and come back to book two later in the week. Suffice to say that I'm writing this review at midnight on Saturday, having now devoured the entire trilogy, and there's still a large pile of books with no red pen in them. They're seriously addictive reads and I'm about to order a lot more of L J Smith's novels.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
While the obvious recommendation for fans of a supernatural book with a love triangle at the centre is Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, I think fans of Dark Visions would also really enjoy the excellent Morganville Vampires series by Rachel Caine – the first book being Glass Houses. It features a heroine similar to Kaitlyn in that she is thrown into a scary situation and forced to mature extremely quickly and take care of herself against grave dangers.
You can read more book reviews or buy Dark Visions: The Strange Power, The Possessed, The Passion by L J Smith at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Dark Visions: The Strange Power, The Possessed, The Passion by L J Smith at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.