Saturday, March 9, 2013
Review:Powerless Series (Omnibus 1-3)by Jason Letts
Powerless Series (Omnibus 1-3)by Jason Letts
I first tested the single first book(Synthesis) for free- I believe it is still offered as free. I would recommend that someone start with that and decide if they like it enough to try the rest then I'd recommend the omnibus because it will save a little money.
I really liked the first book for getting the reader started into this world. It at first reminded me of Anne of Green Gables meets Harry Potter. It quickly shifted into Harry Potter meets Genius Girl. And that's all good. I would class this as a Young Adult fantasy though it might easily fit into some steam-punk category. The one problem was that I couldn't readily place it into any particular era or time frame. It might be alternate earth or it could somehow be ins some sort of quasi-dystopic future. It just doesn't conform to any particular framework though it does use the Earth as a reference. Certain elements of the world building seemed to be skipped over, though that did not impede the overall development of the storyline.
I enjoyed the development of the characters and though the first book almost start out a bit like juvenile fiction it segued into Young Adult much as it started to look a bit like Genius Girl. There are a number of good characters in the story and several of them undergo changes as the story develops.
The story begins with Mira Ipswich who lives a sheltered life at age fifteen. She is being home-schooled by her parents Kevin and Jeana and has no idea that there is a whole world out there. There are reasons for all of this, which will come out later in the story. It's almost an unbelievable situation and I think that that's one thing that gives this book initially a feel of being juvenile fiction. It doesn't last long because Mira is about to discover the real world that's out there and she'll be thrust into it quite abruptly.
In this world everyone has some sort of power - except Mira. This will make life difficult for Mira, but she wants to live out there in the real world and her parents home schooling has prepared her for it as much as possible. Mira will join the academy and meet the people who shall become her worst enemies and best friends. The twist here is that she may well be thrust into the thick of life in the next year. Some of these friends are Aoi and Vern,Mary and Rowland, Roselyn and Kurt, Jeremy and Chucky and many more.
There is a thread that runs in this that is reminiscent of Lord of the Flies in that it has rather young people having to deal with the horror of war early in life. That's not to say that there are not young people out there who do have to deal with this it's just not normal fare for me in my fiction. These are fifteen year-olds just edging into sixteen who are going to -at the age of 16 begin training for war.
One almost disturbing element in the story is that the youths seem to handle the situation as though this is some sort of mmorpg instead of real life. Also the adults seem to encourage this. There is a heavy element of competition and in a short time the reader finds that people can be hurt during the competition. They will all be vying for the position of leader -not just of the class but of the unit when they eventually go to war. They seem to have somehow been encouraged to make this an every man for himself competition. There are elements of this that lend to the thought- yes we need to teach them the seriousness of the war they will have to face- yet we must ask - should we kill them before they reach the field.
Mira will have to join in this competition without a special gift or power and having to use her one most powerful resource- her mind. She's not to be deterred and gets right into the spirit of the whole thing. At the same time she understands the need to bring in teamwork- which is going to be a daunting task.
There are so many characters with so many attributes and so much depth and Jason does a fantastic job of introducing them and keeping them all in order so its not difficult to keep track. These characters are youths that are growing and developing and I think the author does a good job here though it might put off many readers because they seem to often shift around and change more than what many readers are comfortable with. It's been said that Mira is a very conflicted character and I agree- but in truth many of the characters in the story are conflicted for different reasons. I think the author lays the seeds for this well, but has taken on an awesome task with perhaps too many characters spreading his talent a bit thin at times. Thankfully he tells a story well and keeps track of his characters as he goes.
In the first book - eventually the group is all going to be confronted with a first hand look of the horror of war and they will have to learn to work as a unit.
The next two stories The Shadowing and Stasis continue bringing our ersatz heroes into the thick of the war.
The first half of Shadowing is about the shadowing, which is how each person learns to use their skill from someone who has mastered a like skill.
This reads a bit like Karate Kid with all sorts of instruction that almost makes no sense to our somewhat anxious trainees. Most will learn once they come to an understanding , but for some their choice of masters to shadow may come close to fatal conclusions. This is all leading to another challenge for leadership, which may, in itself, prove fatal for some.
This all leads to the war in the Stasis where the reader can't help but feel sympathy for these youths who will have to grow up early. The war is so wide spread that it seems that not only do most youth end up in it, but most don't return. This third book reminded me a lot of The Death Stalker series by Simon R. Green and I'm not sure I'd recommend it as a young adult book. That's just me though.
There's two more books and if you make it this far you will want to read those. My one quibble would be that once you get this far and with the way it abruptly comes to its conclusion it leaves you thinking,"oh, he should have put the forth one in this set."
I recommend this Omnibus for anyone who likes dystopic steam-punk,mmorpg's, magic and wizards, and seat of your pants conflicts. Something for everyone and sometimes not for the faint of heart.