July 1, 2011

review: possession

Possession – Elana Johnson
Vi knows the Rule: Girls don’t walk with boys, and they never even think about kissing them. But no one makes Vi want to break the Rules more than Zenn…and since the Thinkers have chosen him as Vi’s future match, how much trouble can one kiss cause? The Thinkers may have brainwashed the rest of the population, but Vi is determined to think for herself.
But the Thinkers are unusually persuasive, and they’re set on convincing Vi to become one of them….starting by brainwashed Zenn. Vi can’t leave Zenn in the Thinkers’ hands, but she’s wary of joining the rebellion, especially since that means teaming up with Jag. Jag is egotistical, charismatic, and dangerous: everything Zenn’s not. Vi can’t quite trust Jag and can’t quite resist him, but she also can’t give up on Zenn.
This is a game of control or be controlled. And Vi has no choice but to play.


When I first chose this book to read, I figured it would be some sort of government conspiracy story where those in power claimed control over their citizens. Those sorts of stories always intrigued me. Possession is a bit different. It’s a post-apocalyptic dystopian heavy on the science fiction. The world-building in the novel is really well done. The world is full of super technology. Non-Thinkers receive controlling transmissions, but rather than being your normal brainwashing program, the transmissions are delivered by mind rangers, Thinkers with the ability to control others with their voice or mind. The Thinkers justify their controlling actions by reasoning that the non-Thinkers won’t be able to care for themselves or what is left of the world if they aren’t controlled.

Vi is raised as a Goodie, one of the many citizens in Goodgrounds who is forced to plug in to the Thinker transmissions, forced to wear full-body clothing and wide-brimmed hats in order to protect them from the sun. Goodies can’t mingle with the opposite sex, can’t be out after dark, must lock their windows at night, can’t cross borders… can’t do much of anything really. But Vi stops plugging in. She breaks rules. She isn’t controlled. She’s what the Greenies, the higher-ups, consider a Free Thinker, and they want to recruit her. She’s strong-willed, and she won’t allow herself to be controlled by others, forcing her to control them.

On the run, she meets Jag, a criminal from the Badlands, a place that doesn’t have rules like the Goodgrounds, but is still monitored by the Greenies. Together, they seek out a safe place where they won’t be controlled or have to control others. That’s the plot, basically.

While the world-building was excellent, I had several problems with the book. Vi seemed to be the only character fully-developed. Jag just sort of existed as Vi’s guide and romantic interest, and Zenn was practically faceless to me. The setting gave me a lot of problems too. I had a hard time following where everything was in this world, and it seemed that suddenly buildings would pop out of nowhere when I thought they were walking somewhere completely different. I had a hard time picturing everything.

My biggest problem with the novel was the ending. I’ll explain as best I can without giving away what actually happens. Throughout the story, Vi is a very strong character. She doesn’t give in to control, and she fights for what she thinks is right. The battle between what is right and what is wrong is what drives her inner struggle throughout the course of the story. She doesn’t step aside and let others tell her what to think. She figures it out for herself. And then, at the very end of the novel, she suddenly loses that strength. She becomes weak-minded, allowing her to be controlled at the most critical point in the novel. Completely out of character.

Had the book ended differently, I would have enjoyed it a lot more. Despite the confusing setting and lack of physical description, I liked the story. But the ending ruined it for me.

Reading level: Young Adult
Format: Hardcover, 416 pages
Publisher: Simon Pulse (June 7, 2011)

Rating: ★★★☆☆

[Debut Author Challenge 2011]

1 comment:

  1. What a bummer - I really wanted to read this book. I may for the interesting world building, but strong characters on all fronts, not just the main character, make a good story for me.