Sunday, March 8, 2015

Review ~ Charisma by Jeanne Ryan

Series: standalone
Genre: YA contemporary/thriller
Pages: 384
Publication Date: March 3rd, 2015
Publisher: Dial Books
Goodreads Description: 
A chance at the ultimate makeover means deadly consequences in this Sarah Dessen-meets-Robin Cook thriller

Aislyn suffers from crippling shyness—that is, until she’s offered a dose of Charisma, an underground gene therapy drug guaranteed to make her shine. The effects are instant. She’s charming, vivacious, and popular. But strangely, so are some other kids she knows. The media goes into a frenzy when the disease turns contagious, and then deadly, and the doctor who gave it to them disappears. Aislyn must find a way to stop it, before it's too late.

Part medical thriller, part social justice commentary, Charisma will have readers on the edge of their seats. 
Source: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

With the pink bunny and an intriguing description, this book instantly made me curious when I first discovered it. I needed to read it and had pretty high expectations for it. Thankfully, the story inside was as fascinating as I was hoping it would be.

I loved the focuses of Charisma. There was gene therapy--the point where it goes from helpful and important to something truly unethical. There was social anxiety, which is more than simply being shy. It was a serious thing that made the main character feel hopeless. Ultimately, though, the story focused on change: if you want to change yourself, you have to step up and make that change on your own. Taking a quick route (like through taking Charisma) is NOT the way to do it. You’ll think you’ve changed, but you won’t truly feel different until you take the steps yourself.

Aislynn wasn’t a likeable character . . . at least, she seemed like one that would be unlikable to other readers. She made rash decisions. She hid away. She took Charisma to change her personality even though she should have thought it through. She wasn’t always a considerate friend or daughter (she was a pretty good sister, though). However, she was easy to relate to. I'm shy--not nearly as much as she was, but sometimes, I feel so uncomfortable and awkward around groups of people and long to not be that way. I could understand why she made the decisions she made. Her flaws made her a great character. Her growth made her an even better character. I loved her journey from beginning to end. She truly became a stronger person.

Shane wasn’t likeable either, which is why I loved him too. He was a bit (okay, more than just a bit) of a slimeball in the beginning, but as the story progressed, more good parts of him were revealed. He also grew and became a better person--a kinder person, I believe, than when he was introduced in the story. He felt like the second most developed character. 

The other characters were okay, but they didn’t feel as fleshed out as they should’ve been. I connected with Aislynn and Shane, but the others didn’t leave much of any impression on me. This was the only big thing that I didn't like.

Overall, Charisma was fascinating. Its premise was executed well and the story was enjoyable. Aislynn’s character growth during her experience with Charisma tied in really well with the themes. I highly recommend reading her story!

2015 challenges this book counts towards:
105 Challenge

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