Sunday, April 15, 2012

Rippler


Author:Cidney Swanson
Genre: YA/Supernatural
Type: Kindle ebook
First Published: May 2011
Series: 1st book in the Rippling series
Series Order: Rippler (May 2011), Chameleon (2011), Unfurl (Jan 2012)
First Line: "The screaming was the first clue that I'd turned invisible again. "

Synopsis: Samantha is a typical teenage girl ... except for her ability to become invisible and leave the physical world around her. She has only become invisible twice in her life (that she can recall) and unfortunately she has no control over it. 

When she accidentally becomes invisible in front her classmate Will, she's not sure how she's going to handle it.  Fortunately, Will knows more about Sam's condition that she does.  He informs her that she has Rippler's Syndrome, a very rare genetic disorder that his sister has been secretly studying.  Will and his sister Mickie offer to help Sam learn to control her Rippling but insist that she keep it a secret because people who have Rippler's (and even those who are merely studying the disorder) are turning up dead.

My Thoughts: I'm always on the lookout for unique supernatural reads.  Cidney Swanson has written an impressive and distinct debut novel that uses a very interesting supernatural premise.  It's not the typical YA supernatural read involving wizards or a love triangle between vampires and werewolves.  Swanson brings a new take on young-adult supernatural with her storyline and characters.

Sam is very likeable, strong and believable main character.  She's the typical 'girl-next-door' who has her own teenage issues involving family and friends.  I found her relationship with Will to be sweet without being too saccharine and annoying.  Some YA writers have a tendency to play up the cutsie aspect (sometime nauseatingly so) of teen romance but Swanson is able to make the relationship between Sam and Will believable.  In fact I was pleased that the romantic aspect didn't overshadow the main plot.  If I had my way I would have preferred  a little more romantic tension between Will and Sam.

That being said, I have to admit that Will wasn't my favourite character.  He kind of "Rippled" (ie.faded) into the background for me.  He's an OK leading man but he doesn't stand out as much as I would have liked.  He's kind of like vanilla ice cream.  Good but not substantial enough.  I'm hoping in the next two books Will is brought to the forefront a bit more and given a stronger personality to match Sam's.

One relationship that stood out for me was the close bond between Sam and her step-mother.  How refeshing to see a wonderfully strong and loving relationship between a girl and her step-mom!  There was no 'wicked stepmother' here.  I appreciated that new perspective on, traditionally, a negative relationship in many books/movies. 

As many of you already know I've long been a fan of supernatural/paranormal reads.  While I did find the premise of invisibility and being able to disappear from the physical world pretty darn cool I did have a couple of wee beefs with it.  Mere 'moos', if you will.  

First, I found it a little odd that Sam, Will and Mickie (three people who know of Ripplers) just happen to meet up in small town USA.  A little too coincidental for my liking but didn't detract from my overall enjoyment of this book.  Just made me go ''huh'.

Secondly, I wish that Sam hadn't mastered her powers so quickly.  I would have liked to see her flounder a bit more as she learned to control her powers.  Actually, seeing Sam learn about Rippling was my least favourite part of the book. It kind of slowed down the momentum at the beginning of the book. You'd think that learning how to use this power would be cool but I think too much time was spent discussing how cool it was to walk through a glass door etc.

Lastly, I was surprised that there were no negative effects or drawbacks from having Rippler's Syndrome.   {Without divulging anything, Rippler's includes a few more tricks than just invisibility.}  I kind of like my supernatural characters to have an Achilles heel or their own personal Kryptonite just to keep everything on an even playing field.  Something for the bad guys to zone-in on and make the main character a little vulnerable. I'm hoping that the negative effects of Rippling will be divulged in the future books.

Enough of the moos already!  Here's more of what I really enjoyed about this book.  Swanson gives the reader a nicely paced story that has some really unique elements.  I found it very interesting  (and more than a little disturbing) how the Nazi's were incorporated into the storyline.  What a great way to work this supernatural element into a real world event. Granted, it was a little hard to read at times (think of Mengele's experiments in Nazi Germany) but the background on the 'bad guys' was a wonderfully unique approach and gave them a lot more depth.

While the main action of the story didn't really pick up until farther along in the book than I was expecting Swanson was quite adept at dropping hints here and there and keeping my interest until I quite riveted with Sam's plight.  With the intense and very enjoyable last third of the book I am quite excited to read the next books in the series.

My Rating: 4/5 stars 

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