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Abandon Elana Johnson SPOILERSTitle: Abandon
Author: Elana Johnson
Rating: 4/5 stars
Pages: 446 (hardcover)

Many of you may remember my wave of enthusiasm as I read the Possession books, Possession, Surrender, and Abandon. Well, on the same night during which I reviewed Abandon, I also wrote a spoiler-ridden review to get some of my . . . Emotional blockages out of the way. During a recent laptop overhaul I discovered this review that I had intended to post at some point, and decided that the time is now. There will be spoilers. You probably won’t get it if you haven’t read the book. You might not get it even if you have read the book. I hope this gives you a little bit of insight into how my brain actually works, as there’s quite the difference between the reviews I usually post and the initial spasm I experience after finishing a book. I hope you enjoy it despite or because of those reasons. Here, in its entirety, is my spoiler review, sans edits since my original brain splat.

Though I really loved Possession and Surrender, there was something about Abandon that made it so perfect I couldn’t breath while I was finishing it. It wasn’t even that late at night when I was reading, so I can’t blame exhaustion for my overemotional breakdown like I can with most of the books I’ve lost it over. I was sitting there, nine thirty at night, huddled in a corner even though it was 85 degrees in the dark, and I couldn’t believe what’d just happened. This happened three times, with building intensity.
First, Laurel fell. I had to read everything from both Zenn and Jag’s point of view several times because I could not comprehend what had just happened. When I did get the basics (Vi’s mom just fell off a hoverboard, everybody freeze and decide that since she knew the risks it’s okay she died), I thought for a few minutes that Zenn had killed her. I felt relief, because I was ready for Zenn to freaking commit to a side already. I also felt despair, because a. Vi had lost her mother and b. Thane had lost his wife without really reconciling with her like I’d hoped he would. Also c. d. e. and f., but that’s more detail than I need to get into.

Then, Thane sacrificed himself for the good of the Resistance. That was the way for him to die. It was perfect and beautiful and so, so tragic. My jaw actually dropped, which I’ve been noticing happening for a long time, but haven’t noticed often. It dropped lower than it’d ever dropped, I do believe. The emotional cascade nearly made me stop reading. But I kept on.

And then Zenn happened. I was literally, really, truly, curled in a ball, dripping tears onto the pages of my pristine copy of Abandoned. I didn’t even have the presence of mind to care. I had expected Vi to be the one to go, and I was going to be flat out enraged if she dropped off. I was so surprised. I, again, couldn’t figure out what had happened. I hadn’t even thought to mentally prepare for Zenn dying. I had expected to be left with the opposing points of the love triangle, a bitter old lady with a thousand cats still wondering what would have happened if Vi had survived. Instead I was a blob of person-mush, falling apart for someone I had barely tolerated for most of the book. Me and Zenn had some problems, to say the least. But everything, and I do mean everything was redeemed with his last italicized thoughts, and I am still trying to deal with his death. I don’t think I’ve fully accepted it yet.

I am now forcing myself to move past the deaths, and focus on some of the other things, the thing I’m focusing on being the plot. I read all three books in a few days, really back to back, so the plot is kind of a flowing line through the whole story span (not really plot arc. There are a ton of those within the story span. It’s very confusing), but I ran into a bit of a hitch in my flawless reading plan when I was about ¾ of the way through Abandon. It corresponded with the weather taking a turn for the hot, I do believe, but I went to bed late one night and when I woke up didn’t feel the need to read my book for like eight hours, which was a lot for me. It was a good thing for me personally, actually, I did a ton of classwork and worked out in the time I spent away from my book, but I did lose a little bit of that fluidity with the plot line. I went back later in the day and nearly died from plot angst, though, so I apparently didn’t lose all of my memory.

There wasn’t one event that drove me away from the book, but about 105% of the reason was because of Zenn’s narration, I do believe. I got really tired of him and Saffediene and Vi and all that suck, because two love triangles is just too much for a book to handle. I got tired of him worrying about which side to pick, as I’d already mentioned. He needed to just commit, to a side, to a girl, to an ally (the thought of him leaving Jag again was also not attractive to me). I needed to get out of his head for a while, I think. I started back on with a Jag chapter, and I think that was really good for me because I regained my faith in Elana Johnson’s (awesome) writing expertise and remembered that I really loved everyone except for Zenn.

Hope that was entertaining if not educational,
Rosey

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Abandon Elana Johnson Possession series third book Title: Abandon
Author: Elana Johnson
Pages: 446 (Hardcover)
Rating: 4/5 stars

The final installment in the Possession series, Abandon was a very emotionally taxing book. I was finishing the book in a semi-public place, and as surprise after surprise attacked my metaphorical heart I had only a few seconds to be embarrassed that I was crying and both of my arms had been thrown over my head. I’m not much of a book crier. I cried (okay had a mental breakdown) at John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. I cried at The Book Thief and Mockingjay when a certain sugar-cube wielding character from the 75th Hunger Games met his end. But it takes a lot to get me. I won’t be posting a spoiler review here, but I do have one, so look for that one way or another eventually (no promises).

I don’t want to do too much of a teaser/synopses/summary (whatever you call these things I put after the intro and before I squee) because I worry about ruining the ending for all my lovely readers, because I accidentally read the most offhand comment while looking at Abandon on Amazon and it screwed up the book for me a little. I will not tell you what that spoiler was, though, because then I would be doing the same thing to you and that would suck. Getting back to the point, here goes:

Vi, Jag, and Zenn have made it through some tough times. Some of those times have seen them more friendly with each other than others, though, and they have quite the history to deal with as they run the Revolution and also make out a lot. Who with, no one really knows. But everyone cares.

As the brotherly jealousy and romantic malice unfold, the Resistance is growing. But the Association is growing something else, and it began with a little someone named Cash in the Evolutionary Rise, if you know what I mean. Both of these things will be cause for much frustration and anguish to the twisted love triangle (or perhaps square ? . . . oh my). Which one will end it all? No one knows. No one wants to find out, either. Someone’s been leaking secrets. Everyone’s afraid of who it is. Could it be Vi, brainwashed and broken, heart torn in two? Or Zenn, tired of playing both sides but unsure which one he’s actually working for? Or Jagg, exhausted, broken, and choked with not only his love for Vi, but his rage at her love for another? Gunn doesn’t know. Thane doesn’t know. It’s a game of Clue that will decide which side wins, and which side dies.

I loved Possession. I loved Surrender. I loved Abandoned. As I professed, these books got better as they went along. This book was not haunted with the += situation, nor the yeahs. Some becauses sneaked their way in there, but they were not so noticeable as to ruin even 1% of the rest of the plot. And did I mention the plot? It was fantastic. I sat their huddled in a corner of my dark room (dark because I hadn’t been able to get up to turn on the lights since before they were necessary) and tore through the gripping tales that were so linked and interconnected I could never really figure out what was going on. But I liked it.

Remember the last review? Friday . . . Surrender . . . Me listing my hopes and dreams for the next book? It definitely was more than I’d hoped. Let’s review them now, and then I’ll add some extra points I didn’t anticipate.
It is narrated by at least one of the points in the love triangle from Possession (most hopefully Jag, but Vi was great in the first book and I wouldn’t mind reading from Zenn’s point of view).
Indeed, it was. Jag and Zenn grace the pages of the lustrous purple brick, trading off narrations like Gunn and Raine did in Abandon. Don’t be discouraged, my lovely love-triangle-side-pickers. It’s worth having to suffer through your not OTP’s events to get to the beauty that is the end of this book.
It is at least 600 pages long.
Alas, it is not. It’s also not 464 pages long like I’d earlier said, at least not in hardcover. It’s only 446 (actually maybe I’m just losing my mind. Probably the real reason). The 600 page goal was only wishful thinking, and I knew that from the moment I wrote it. I still wish it was 600 pages, but I feel fulfilled after reading the ones the lovely Elana Johnson instilled with her gorgeous and masterful prose.
There is no resurfacing of the yeah and because, even if Vi is narrating.
4/5 here. Hardly any yeahs, and only a few becauses that were very suitable to the plot and I wouldn’t have noticed had I not alerted my senses. And, since I know you’re still hoping, Vi’s narration graces exactly zero pages of Abandon. I know, so sad, but it’s alright.
There is ZERO ‘it was all a dream/all government orchestrated’ plot work.
HURRAH! Followthrough! And zero bad plot devices here. Thank you, esteemed Mrs. Johnson.
The ending is closed. No room for interpretation or continuation, everything’s been worked out.
Not spoilin’ here. I was okay with the ending, though I have to admit the pages were pretty blurry while I read the last chapters, so maybe I didn’t see everything correctly. I will edit if I have second thoughts, promise.

A few additions I feel the need to make now I’ve been shown the Elana Johnson light:
– Skillful dealing with the love triangle aspect of the plot.
– Not making the reader (me) long for the other three narrators.
– Not getting thrown at anything in my house or the surrounding areas. (Check. Also didn’t get punched (happened with the last two HP books when people died). I was too spellbound to move, let alone close the book for long enough to injure the beautiful purple cover (or, more likely, my hand on the sharp hardcover binding)).

I don’t know what I can say to convince you if you haven’t already picked up Possession, but really, do yourself a favor and at least give it a chance. The sample pages on Amazon will probably be enough to convince you of what I’ve failed to convey.

Also, did I mention there are two more tie-ins? One is available on Goodreads, the other one it might take me a few weeks to track down, so wait patiently for more Possession series enthusiasm hitting Bookmarks soon. I will post about something else between this and the other pieces to the lovely Possession series set, but probably not very many times.

Being in love with a series feels great,
Rosey


Surrender by Elana JohnsonTitle: Surrender
Author: Elana Johnson
Pages: 469 (hardcover)
Rating: 3.7/5

The second book in the series by Elana Johnson I began reviewing on Tuesday, Surrender, was much better than I was expecting it to be at the end of my last post.

At first I wasn’t thrilled with the two-point perspective, nor the narrators’ shortcoming of not being Vi, the main character of the first book, Possession. After 469 pages, I’ve come around to the more innocent and less strong stubborn voices of Raine and Gunner, main characters and narrators of Surrender.

Raine, seventeen year old daughter of Van Hightower, Director of Freedom (remember that foreshadowing?), is a leader of the Insiders, a resistance hoping to gather enough government contacts to bring down the regime of Thinkers and Directors and return the world to a place where everyone has the power to make their own decisions and have their own opinions. Gunner is the golden guy of Freedom, hoverboarding star, highly talented, all that stuff. The story begins with Raine trying to get Gunner to join the Insiders, for obvious (talent-related) reasons and maybe some personal ones as well.

As daughter of the Director, Raine has a lot of responsibilities. For one, she must keep track of and chart her ditzy flatmate’s nightmares, and send a report off to Assistant Director Thane whenever they happen. And Vi has nightmares every night. She also has to keep up with her heavy load of work for the Insiders, as she’s a top recruiter and also one of the most influential contacts they have. There’s one more mandated activity, but Raine doesn’t like to talk about that. Her special talent isn’t one she enjoys using.

Gunner lives with his mom, though he probably should be living in student housing. Everyone else does, at least. He’s a pretty normal dude – talented, sure, but nothing super special. His favorite activities are snacking and flying, both of which he manages to eek out of the government in large enough quantities to keep himself pretty content with life. Until one day, on the way to get his snack, his mom isn’t quick enough to close the safe.

In a world where the only currency is obedience and the only rewards unimportant, Gunn and Raine try to make sense of the oddities around them – Vi, Zenn, Thane, and the new arrival, Jag.

Elana Johnson kicked her ‘yeah’ and ‘because’ habit, but replaced them with + and =, which are actually okay. In the two perspectives, only Gunner really uses them, but since he narrates half the book, there are a lot of non-letter signs on the pages for a literary work. Again, something I’m willing to overlook because I enjoyed the story and the rest of the prose, but worth noting if that kind of stuff will bug you.

I really enjoyed Surrender, and though I’m posting this on Friday, it’s actually Wednesday as I write this. (Meaning I went out and got the book, read it, and reviewed it within 48 hours of finishing Possession.) I’m looking forward to Abandon (is three reviews from the same series in a row too much? I hope not), which will probably blow me away, because these books actually seem to be getting better as I progress in the series, which is not something I can say about every dystopian series. I’m looking at you, Matched trilogy. (Also, I’m hearing that the term is no longer YA dystopian, but I’m not buying it.)

Another thing I’ve been meaning to bring up since starting Possession is the god modding aspect of the talents. If you’ve had experience roleplaying or have learned about the not-so-official literary aspects they don’t really teach in school, you’ll know god modding is giving your characters so many abilities that they don’t have any chance of failure. This could be a huge problem for the Possession books, but Elana Johnson seems to be doing okay so far. There have been a couple times where I either went ‘oh, that’s handy,’ or ‘why can’t they just use their superpower?’, but overall I’ve bought the use or not use of each character’s power. I’m a little worried that things will take a turn for the god moddey in the next book after [SPOILER] Vi was all “I can do everything” and bust out the complete mind reading abilities, but I hope the esteemed Mrs. Johnson will keep everything realistic [NO MORE SPOILER]. Also, you’ve had ample time to go find Possession, so I expect you’re reading it or have already finished by now. (Not actually, read what you want. But seriously, you should read these books.)

My hopes for Abandon, go something like this:
-It is narrated by at least one of the points in the love triangle from Possession (most hopefully Jag, but Vi was great in the first book and I wouldn’t mind reading from Zenn’s point of view).
-It is at least 600 pages long (Looked it up, it’s not. 464.)
-There is no resurfacing of the yeah and because, even if Vi is narrating
-There is ZERO ‘it was all a dream/all government orchestrated’ plot work (glaring at Veronica Roth’s Insurgent, here)
-The ending is closed. No room for interpretation or continuation, everything’s been worked out (ahem, The Passage).

We’ll see how that works out. Review to come. Probably next Tuesday.

Au revoir,
Rosey


Possession Title: Possession
Author: Elana Johnson
Pages: 405 (paperback)
Rating: 3.5/5

Today I bring you . . . Yet another YA dystopian. Surprise, I know. But there are so many! And some of them are actually okay.

Like this one, Possession by Elana Johnson. I’ll admit, parts of it annoyed me to no end. Like how every other sentence begins with “Yeah” or “Because,” which is not a proper way to begin a sentence, as we all learned in third grade. I am generally unopposed to Because, actually, but when used well and with a purpose. These becauses just annoyed me. The yeahs were also a problem, especially for the first few chapters, but the actual story I liked just fine.

Vi lives in a world of black or white, good or bad. Literally. The Goodies have white skin that’s never been exposed to the sunlight. The Baddies are tan. The Goodies have rules, and the baddies don’t. Vi is a Goodie. Zenn is a Goodie. Jag isn’t.

In their world of strict rules and regulations, Vi and Zenn try to stay true to themselves, even in the face of the brainwashing transmissions Goodies are subject to every night. These transmissions are produced by the Thinkers, those who think so the general population doesn’t have to. They’re designed to keep the masses under control and working for the greater good – but only as the Goodie officials see fit. Vi, caught in the act of outright rulebreaking, (walking in the park with her government assigned match – very hardcore) is sent to prison, awaiting a sentence she doesn’t know exists. There she meets the charismatic badboy Jag. Living in the same cell, they get to know each other more personally, and Vi learns that the Baddies she always feared aren’t as the Goodie government makes them out to be, that they may be more like herself than any other Goodie she’s met – even Zenn.

Vi changes her mind again and again as she sees the rest of the world (sometimes with Jag, sometimes without) and ultimately makes the decision that will change her life – and many others’- forever.

I wasn’t expecting to love Possession, but I was pleasantly surprised at how well it turned out. I’m definitely going to read the second book in the series, Surrender, which is already out. (After a few seconds of research, the third and final book, Abandon, is also on the shelves.) I liked the main character, Vi, just fine, and the love triangle (twisted as it may be) isn’t completely sickening, which would’ve surprised me to know if you’d told me at the one-third mark. (Side note: are there any YA dystopian books that don’t feature a love triangle? I would love to hear about them if they exist. Edit: Since posting this I have thought of several books with no love triangle but distinctly dystopian aspects. Also Divergent, which is currently the poster child for YA dystopian. I retract my previous statement.) Original love interest Zenn is brainwashed by the government, in training to become a high-class official, when Vi is imprisoned for breaking the rules to be with him. In prison, second love interest is introduced – gorgeous, dangerous, smexy Jag. Vi didn’t stand a chance. Really, she didn’t. Jag has the ability to control people with his voice – something he wasn’t morally opposed to using on Vi when it suited his purpose. I will stop now to avoid spoilers. Anyway, Vi has to choose between good guy Zenn and his offering of peace and love and complete governmental tyranny or Jag and his exciting, adventurous brand of freedom in a coastal political asylum called Seaside. Which would you choose? I’m pretty sure you and Vi picked the same thing (not a spoiler, promise).

Getting more into the actual book stuff, I liked the voice the story was narrated in (first person from Vi’s point of view), barring the previously mentioned ‘yeah’ and ‘because’ annoyances. She’s a sarcastic and attitudey person, which is the kind of voice I enjoy in one of those “run-of-the-mill” badass heroines YA so frequently features these days. An interesting problem for readers of the book is the oppositeness of the lingo – to Vi the Goodies are the bad guys and the Baddies the ones in the right, though her opinion is subject to change with whatever emotion she’s got brewing in her angsty head. “Freedom” is a government holdup and brainwashing facility. Everything’s the other way ‘round. Eventually Vi comes to the conclusion that the government-provided labels she’s grown up sticking on everything she’s seen probably aren’t the best thing for her to keep as her frame of reference, but not until the reader has worked out the general connotations of each name.

The conflicts and character profiles that inhabit the book are pretty common things – good versus bad, obedience versus freedom, old and dependable boyfriend versus new and thrilling boyfriend, etc. Not so much a groundbreaking new futuristic commentary on the world’s future. Somehow everything works, though, and creates an enjoyable story I could definitely get behind and devour. I timed myself reading and it took me exactly three hours fifty five minutes and forty four seconds of dedicated reading time to finish the book, and about twenty six hours from beginning the book to reading the last page, including the time it’s taken me to sleep/eat/practice other human occupations. A testament to the interestingness of the book, I do believe.

Though as I read through this review I realize it sounds pretty negative, I actually quite liked Possession, even factoring in the ‘yeah’ and ‘because’ conundrum. I’m probably bashing on it so much because I’ve been immersed in Vi’s seethingly critical narration for the past couple hours, and I went straight to writing a review without taking time to let her voice work its way out of my head.

I would recommend you read Possession when you have a good chunk of free time, as it’s the kind of book you want to enjoy all at once. I’m glad I chose it as my first read of this year’s summer. Look for reviews of the next two books in the near future.

Happy summer,
Rosey

PS: So, after some more of my ever occurring research, it turns out the next book in the series follows Vi’s new roommate, who we haven’t met in Possession. Very disappointing to me. Just thought I’d let you know.

PPS: More research reveals the next book is told in multiple perspectives. Again, not excited.

Final update: After reading a few pages, it doesn’t seem so terrible. Review to come.