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Possession Book Review

Title: Possession
Author: Elana Johnson
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: June 7, 2011
ISBN-13: 978-1442421257
416 pp.

Reading copy from publisher via Galley Grab

I don't give stars for my reviews, but if I did, I'd give 3 out of 5 for Possession by Elana Johnson. It fell in the middle for me ... somewhere between Across the Universe by Beth Revis, which I L-O-V-E-D and Bumped by Megan McCafferty, which I didn't finish.

The basic story is that Violet (aka Vi) lives in the Goodlands, but she doesn't think much of being a Goodie. She breaks the rules of this particular dystopian world and ends up in prison with Jag, the swaggering and sexy Baddie from the Badlands. She breaks out of prison with Jag and finds out there's a Resistance, which she may or may not want to join. And then there's Zenn, the boy Vi was matched with back when she was a Goodie. He may be trying to help her, or he may be keeping her away from Jag. Vi doesn't know who to trust or what do, especially since she's discovered that she has many of the same powers that the Thinkers who control the Goodlands have.

There's lots to like in Possession. Vi is a sassy, snarky kick-ass character. There's lots of well-written action. There are twisty turns that nicely set up the sequel.

But where it fell flat for me was the world-building. It was generic, even in the naming of the places (Goodlands, Badlands, etc.). There really wasn't a breakdown of the hierarchy or the history of this world. There's a conversation very late in the novel about what the different types of powers are and who has them, but it would have helped to have this information sooner. It would have helped me as reader understand the world and it would have helped build character in Vi because she could have had a stronger arc on how she learns what her abilities are and how she can use them.

The characters were a little generic, too. Cute Boy #1 and Cute Boy # 2 didn't seem that different from each other. And Vi didn't have that much depth to her. She's all id, all action, all emotion. She's not very reflective. For instance, in one scene she manages to take out a team of people using her new found power. When it's over, she doesn't think, OMG, I did that!?! What else am I capable of? Or any other sort of deeper thought. Instead, she yells at Jag about something else. If all id is her character, I hope in the sequel that Vi grows up a bit and learns more self-awareness.

So 3 out of 5 stars it is. I would recommend Possession to readers who enjoyed Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin or Uglies by Scott Westerfeld.

Bonus Video: Elana Johnson talks about Possession with YA Highway