I feel like Strangelets by Michelle Gagnon is going to be a hard book for me to review, and that’s just me being straight up with you, my reader- friends. While the book was certainly action packed and rarely boring with an actual legitimate ending, I came away without a huge feeling of investment or caring. Actually, I think my feelings were akin to the way I feel about thriller movies. The time spent watching them does not feel like a waste, but I also don’t feel the pressing need to re-watch the film, ya know. Same with Strangelets, no pressing need to re-read it or pick it up again — but if another book comes out in the Strangelets universe, I will read it.
Michelle Gagnon’s Strangelets opens on a sort of ordinary day for three point of view teens — only all three are about to die. One, Sophie, is on her deathbed because she has cancer. Another, Declan, accepted this strange job and is about to get shot in an alley. The other, Anat, is an Israeli girl who wants to escape her army duty and marry a boy from the other side, so she goes into this tunnel to sneak across the border, when oh NO it is about to collapse. Yet, on the verge of death, each teen sees this sort of glowing hole thing and next thing they know, they wake up in a hospital building of sorts. In the hospital there is no way out, zero exits and all that. When all is said and done, there are six teenagers three boys and three girls looking for a way to escape the hospital. OH and one of the monsters from Lost makes a cameo appearance, or at least it did in my mind. Sooooo, that is your plot in a nutshell without giving too much away.
As I mentioned, the story revolves around six teenagers. However, not all of those teens get point of view chapters. I would say that Sophie, Declan, and Anat get the most face time in the book. The other three teenagers – Yosh, Ben, and Nico are not quite as central. I feel like one of the things that kept a wall between me and Strangelets was the fact that the point of view bounced quite a bit and I just never felt completely drawn in by the characters. Granted, they had their moments. I liked that Anat was tough and nails and the strong leader of the group. I liked that Declan was totally cheeky. And, well, Sophie was a kind soul and a bit boring to be quite honest. BUT, I personally would have liked this more if there was one character who was the central focus and the other characters just became periphery. Although, I think people who love large casts will love Strangelets.
The premise of the book is definitely creative. I will say I was totally freaked out when the kids could not get out of the hospital. There were also bits that reminded me a lot of the movie I Am Legend where Will Smith is pretty much wandering around an overgrown New York City. There’s not a lot that can be said about the world building without spoiling the book – except some buzz words: tremors, survival, diaries, colliders. That’s all you’ll get for clues out of me.
As a reader, I think that Gagnon does action incredibly well. There’s a real driving force behind the book, a sort of momentum that once you get into it, it is hard to set down. Like the blurb says, Strangelets is a thrill ride. While I might not be head over heels for the book, I cannot pretend that I was bored reading it or that it did not entertain me. It totally did, only it’s likely not going to be one that sticks in my head forever and ever. Readers who enjoy high octane movies, post apocalyptic fiction, and action should absolutely check out Strangelets by Michelle Gagnon.
Disclosure: Received for review via Netgalley
Other reviews of Strangelets by Michelle Gagnon:
The Book Smugglers – “falls somewhere in the middle of the success spectrum”
I Have Lived A Thousand Lives – “I expected more from this”
Book Labyrinth – “a really intense start”