Review of ‘Freakling’ by Lana Krumwiede (Through the Shelf Thursday #7)

UPDATE: I will be interviewing the author of Freakling, Lana Krumwiede, for my next ‘Tips on Writing Tuesday;, November 13th.  Stop back by to enter to win your own autographed copy!

Title: Freakling
Author: Lana Krumwiede
Genre: MG Sci-fi/Dystopian
Description from Goodreads:

In twelve-year-old Taemon’s city, everyone has a power called psi—the ability to move and manipulate objects with their minds. When Taemon loses his psi in a traumatic accident, he must hide his lack of power by any means possible. But a humiliating incident at a sports tournament exposes his disability, and Taemon is exiled to the powerless colony.

The “dud farm” is not what Taemon expected, though: people are kind and open, and they actually seem to enjoy using their hands to work and play and even comfort their children. Taemon adjusts to his new life quickly, making friends and finding unconditional acceptance.

But gradually he discovers that for all its openness, there are mysteries at the colony, too—dangerous secrets that would give unchecked power to psi wielders if discovered.

When Taemon unwittingly leaks one of these secrets, will he have the courage to repair the damage—even if it means returning to the city and facing the very people who exiled him?

Date I Finished Reading: October 30, 2012

My Rating: 4.5 of 5

My Review: (also on Goodreads):

The premise of Freakling is what drew me in.  Young boy, just starting his teenage years, lives in a city where everybody has the same power – that’s a pretty good twist.  The power to move things with your mind – psi – is also intriguing in how Krumwiede applies it to the book; not only does it serve as a useful tool for action, but it also has a more symbolic purpose as well.  Is it possible for somebody to “lose their identity” when everybody has the same identity (i.e. psi).  Very interesting premise.

Writing characters that use their minds to move things seems no easy task to me, but Krumwiede does a good job of making it visual.  She has built a very dystopic, interesting world full of people who have become self-gratifying and almost prideful in their power.  As soon as the story starts, their is tension, especially between Taemon and his older brother, Yens.  Yens is possibly the True Son, the one who has been prophesied about to help bring balance, and he is a die hard psi worshiper.  He has no use for Taemon and his weak ways.  As a MG novel, Krumwiede does a great job pulling the reader in and having them be able to relate to the characters.  As the book progresses, more characters are introduced: the town leader who wants control, the girl that is a friend but possibly something more, the best friend, the quirky neighbor who might not be what they seem.  All of these characters are served well in the book and are given a unique voice by the author.

I also love the names in the book.  They are very personal and help to bring you into the story.  For example, Taemon calls his parents “mam” and “da”; just that subtle use really helps with setting the stage and drawing you into the world.  There is something personal, deep about it.  Authentic.

As the story progresses and we follow Taemon at home, through school, and the conflict that ensues, the pacing is good and the conflict builds and doesn’t seem forced.  And the book is not just all action.  As with any good MG book, Krumwiede desires to get the reader to think.  I love the contrast between the so-called “easy” life of those who have psi, and the perceived “duds” in the non-psi colony.  Those with psi have been taught to believe they are better than the those without.  The thought being how can someone without psi have a happy, productive life with they actually have to “do” something.  Taemon, and reader, grow through the story to a better understanding of what is fundamentally important.

While I really liked the ending, and felt it held true to the story, I felt it was rushed and ended too fast (which might actually be a good thing, because I wanted it to keep going).  I wanted it to have a little more closure, a little more time to take a step back and digest everything that had just happened, instead of being more like a cliffhanger.  I don’t know if that’s what the author’s intents were, that’s just how it felt to me.  But otherwise, the ending was very satisfying and, honestly, I did not see it coming (which is always good):-)

A very strong, debut novel with an interesting premise and great world.  Even though the premise seems to trend more toward boy readers, I say the psi-centric premise and the relationships in the book make it a great read for boys and girls and will give them a lot to think about.

Have you read ‘Freakling’?  What did you think?


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