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Life, Law & Libros

Chasing Power by Sarah Beth Durst eARC (2 stars)

While I love the simplicity of the cover, it doesn't really match the story. Then again, a mash-up of X-Men powers, shoplifting, tomb raiding, garden witchcraft and California beaches doesn't really lend itself to one cohesive theme/cover. These elements combined could make a decent story, but the characters, pacing and plot "twists" prevented me from loving Chasing Power.

This eARC was provided through NetGalley for review. Some things may have changed in the final version.
Chasing Power by Sarah Beth Durst
Series: N/A
Genres: YA, Fantasy
Published on October 14, 2014
Published by Bloomsbury
Final Rating: 2 stars

Lies, secrets, and magic — three things that define Kayla's life.

Sixteen-year-old Kayla plans to spend her summer hanging out on the beach in Santa Barbara and stealing whatever she wants, whenever she wants it. Born with the ability to move things with her mind — things like credit cards, diamond rings, and buttons on cash registers — she has become a master shoplifter. She steals to build up a safety net, enough money for her and her mom to be able to flee if her dad finds them again. Well, that, and the thrill of using her secret talents.

But her summer plans change when she's caught stealing by a boy named Daniel — a boy who needs her help and is willing to blackmail her to get it. Daniel has a talent of his own. He can teleport, appearing anywhere in the world in an instant, but he lies as easily as he travels. Together, they embark on a quest to find and steal an ancient incantation, written on three indestructible stones and hidden millennia ago, all to rescue Daniel's kidnapped mother. But Kayla has no idea that this rescue mission will lead back to her own family — and to betrayals that she may not be able to forgive... or survive.

What I Liked:

  • Third person POV - Thank goodness it was in third person. Kayla's thoughts are pretty prominent as is, but if I'd been forced to listen to any more of her repetitive thought patterns, this would have dropped to 1 star in a hurry.
  • The big "twist" at the end makes the whole mystery and coincidences seem less coincidental.

What I Didn't Like:
  • The writing feels choppy and doesn't flow well. Maybe the author is trying for a feel and rhythm to match Kayla's voice, but it doesn't work for me. Also, I started catching on simile phrases using "as."
  • Too rushed. The plot and characters jump from one place to another (literally).
  • I never cared about Kayla. For being a poor girl who's had a tough life, she comes across as a spoiled, entitled brat. The thieving? Despite having a "good reason," it's a game to her. She thinks she's better than everyone else, but not in the charming Han Solo manner that makes you love him anyway.
  • I didn't love the best friend Selena, partially because the dialogue with Kayla was a little too pleased with its own cleverness. On the bright side, Selena comes across as mildly more complex than Kayla, and her issues with her loving but high expectations parents and a boy she likes hold more weight and higher stakes than Kayla's worldwide search for magical stones. I was never really worried about what would happen if the stones were used, and honestly, neither was Kayla.
  • Kayla needs to check her priorities. She gives in to blackmail so her mother, Moonbeam, won't find out she uses her powers and *gasp* be disappointed and make them move. Ask for help already! Instead of telling her mom the truth, she's risking her life all over South America...yeah, that makes perfect sense.
  • The romance didn't work for me, due in large part to how flat Daniel's character is. He's more a foil to Kayla than anything else.
  • The ending. I'm glad we didn't have a complete deus ex machina moment, but all the magic, love, let's save the family, and then...everything that could have been exciting fell flat. Also, Kayla needs to check her priorities. Again.

Final Thoughts:
Having read two of Durst's fantasy novels and enjoyed the writing, I was excited for Chasing Power. But neither the characters nor the plot were enough to lift this above "okay." I felt like I started in the world of X-Men and wound up in Lord of the Rings, but not in a good way.

I have another of Durst's contemporary, magical realism books on my shelf and I'm really hoping that one is better. As it stands, I can't recommend Chasing Power for anything but a quick, escapist read.


  1. Ahem. I have something to say about this one....


    That is all.

    1. It's unfortunate, but that is a perfect summary. :)

  2. Aw man, I was so intrigued by what the cover meant and very fearful that it was just a random choice *sigh* I'll probably skip this one since I have plenty of other escapist things to read, thanks for the warning!

    1. I know! I still love the simple design, but it doesn't fit (unless I'm forgetting a really important light bulb scene, although I suppose they do wind up in dark tombs a couple times). If you want to try Durst's books, you're better off starting with Vessel. You're welcome! :)

  3. Sounds like a drag :(

    I'd say I like the cover as well, but it really reminds me too much of the original cover for City of Ember:

    1. You're right! They do have a similar look.

      Sometimes a bad cover hides a good book; sometimes a good cover hides a boring book. :(