Home       About Me       Review Archive

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Review: Possession by Elana Johnson

Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Published: June 7, 2011
Pages: 416
Source: For Review from Simon and Schuster Canada (Thank you!)
Rating: 2.5 Stars

Vi knows the Rule: Girls don't walk with boys, and they never even thinkabout 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 brainwashing 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.

In short: Possession by Elana Johnson has an interesting concept and a likeable heroine, but ultimately, the novel's downfall is its extremely fast pacing.
If there is one thing I noticed about Possession by Elana Johnson, it's the novel's extremely fast pace, which can be seen as both a blessing and a curse. Sure, it means non stop action and never a dull moment, but at the same time, things moved too fast for me to truly absorb the events that occurred in the novel and to get a feel for most of the characters. It also means that how the dystopian world in Possession originated was summarized in one paragraph, which is not nearly enough to suffice my curiosity.

The relationships between main character Vi and her two love interests in the love triangle fell flat for me, also because of the fast pacing in the novel. With Zenn, we get to see so little of him that I never got invested in his character. With bad boy Jag, things progress so unnaturally quickly that it seemed unrealistic and silly. I mean, they declared their love for each other only a few days after they met!

The world building was okay for a dystopian (world building is the number one must that I expect to be done well in dystopians). There were some interesting concepts but again, they were not given time to fully develop due to the fast pace of the novel. One thing that I thought Johnson did do very well was all the terminology that the reader has to understand to grasp the concept of the world: this could have easily been confusing with the fast pacing, but I thought Johnson handled it well and I found I could follow it fairly easily.

My favourite part of Possession would have to be the heroine, Vi, who was instantly likeable. A thief and a liar, Vi speaks and thinks in a very typical "teenage" way, with a very sarcastic tone that was enjoyable to read. Unlike some of the other characters, the reader will instantly get a feel for her personality and her rebellious nature as a "Free Thinker".

Overall, for me, the fast pace was really Possession's downfall. That said, just because this novel wasn't for me, doesn't mean I don't think someone else couldn't (and hasn't, from reviews I've read) enjoyed it a lot more. If you are someone who gets annoyed by very slow pacing in books, then I would recommend Possession to you; you would probably enjoy it more than I did!

Other Reviews:
The Bookish Type
Musings of a YA Reader
Supernatural Snark

Stalk the author (not for serious):

*Read as part of the 2011 Debut Author Challenge
*The Letter P in the A-Z Reading Challenge


  1. Great review Aylee =) !
    I don't like when there's too much action in a book or when there's none for that matter. I don't know if I'll read this book, I think I'll, as I love dystopian novels ..
    Thanks for the review !

  2. I can't decide if this would work for me or not. Generally I think fast paces are good. But I agree that you don't want to get too confused. It sounds like the world building was pretty good also, if not perfect.

  3. I'm glad to know it moves quickly, since I'm such an impatient reader. Still, I'm not chomping at the bit to read this one. I'll get to it, but maybe not right away.

  4. I have heard many times that it is way too fast paced so I don't think this one would be for me. I hate it when the main characters instantly fall in love. It is a pet peeve of mine! At least Vi was an enjoyable main character, though!

  5. Nice review Aylee! I definitely agree with you on the pace, I had trouble keeping up as well. Zenn didn't do much for me either, but I did like Jag despite his few extreme a-hole moments:) I just wanted some more time to figure everything out, it felt like we just got bounced from event to event and never got to fill in the gaps.

  6. I love fast paced books, but not when character and plot development suffer as a result. Shame that happened here.

  7. I agree with you on the pace. On one hand, I liked how it made the book impossible to put down! But on the other hand...sometimes I had trouble keeping up. Great honest review! :)

  8. Ah the infamous insta-love! It can be a huge pet peeve for me. And a paragraph for the history? That's a place I actually like to see more. At 416 pages I'm curious about what *does* happen. There must be a lot! I do still want to read this, thanks for the review!

  9. yeah, I'm pretty much convinced I can put this one on the back burner for now and not feel bad about it. Though I think a faster pace in dytopian is kind of necessary, it should still allow for some growth and emotional attachment.

    Good thing everyone seems to agree about Vi. :)

  10. Aww, it sucks.
    I usually don't like slow paces, but when it races nilly willy is also a problem. :( And Insta-luv is no fun.

  11. I've actually read a lot of bad reviews for this one, and that saddens me bc the premise is so dang good. Pacing can destroy a book though. Fab review :)

  12. Elodie: I think I'm largely in the minority on this one. I would recommend giving it a chance (if you can find time for it!).

    Alison: Certainly give it a go if you can find the time. I'm odd in that I find that I can actually enjoy a slow paced book. This one was just too much for me.

    Logan: I hope you enjoy it more than I did! There's definitely no rush to read it though.

    Bailey: Insta-love= definitely a pet peeve of mine. And worse than that, I didn't even like either of the two guys. There was just nothing there. But yeah, Vi was cool :)

    Jenny: Yeah, I felt like I needed more time to absorb what was happening in each scene. It was so quick and there seemed to be tons of plot holes. Honestly, I didn't find any appeal to Jag at all. He was just annoying as heck.

    Small: Yeah, I guess it's possible to have a fast paced book done well, but I definitely think it's a rarity. I applaud anyone who can do it well!

    Lauren: Right, it only took me a few sittings to get through, so in that sense, the fast pace was a good thing.

    Laura: Good point... what does happen indeed in such a lengthy book with little history and explanation about the world? ... well, lots of action, that's for sure. Really non stop. It didn't feel that long when I read it.

    Missie: Yeah, I wouldn't rush out to get it. It's interesting that you believe dystopians must have a fast pace. I don't know, I'm pretty tolerable of slow pacing in books, so I don't mind slow paced dystopians. Vi was the best part, for sure :)

    Alex: Exactly. It would seem like it would work with its crazy fast pace, but the plot and characters suffered for it, I believe. Unfortunate.

    Melissa: Really? All the reviews I've read for this one have rated it higher than the rating I gave it. It is such a shame. I was super excited upon starting to read it and then my excitement and patience just slowly waned throughout my reading. Oh well.

  13. Thanks for linking me, Aylee. I have a problem with slow dystopians which is why I really enjoyed this one. That said, the constant action bothered me too because you don't get to absorb what's happening properly.

    I thought Vi was a great character too. I love snarky teens :) Great review!

  14. First negative review I've read for this book! Great job writing it. I have yet to finish this book but I have to agree with you with its pace. Thanks for being honest :)

  15. I've heard mixed things about this book and after reading your review I think I would have the same issues. Thank you for your honesty. :)

  16. Zahida; Right exactly. Even though I don't necessarily have a problem with slow dystopians as long as they're written well, the opposite was just a bit too much. You would think, in theory, that constant action would be good, but I found that this wasn't the case with this one. And hurray for snark :)

    Jillian: Aw, thanks. I think this is the first time I've largely disagreed with the majority of reviews for a book. Which made me nervous. But I really felt it was important to be honest, so...

    Jessica: Hmm, yeah. I wouldn't fully recommend it to anyone but I can't help but think most people would at least enjoy it a bit more than I did. If they can make time for it with all the other books they need to read, of course!

  17. Great review :) I am still looking forward to this read, but I need to get through my backlog as well. So sad - I wish I could make a living as a full-time reader. And food taster. Yea that would be awesome.

  18. Ha! Yeah, that would be pretty awesome. I'm not sure how one would get paid for such things, but dang, would that be the life.

  19. I was looking forward to this book, mainly because I fell in love with the cover. The more reviews I've read though, I'm beginning to believe it may not be the book I thought it was going to be. I'm getting bored with romance stories, I need something more.

  20. Drats! I've been looking forward to this book too. Oh well. Sucks on the too fast pacing. But I think I will check it out when it comes out at the library! Thanks for your honesty!!

  21. Gina: Me too, Gina. Me too. They're all very similar, especially the insta-love ones. Try it out if you have time, is what I keep saying. There's a chance that you might like it more than I did.

    Julie: Definitely try it out at the library. I really feel you shouldn't take my word for it, exactly. A lot of people have like it more than I did and you may be one of them!

  22. Ace Review, I had high hopes for this novel but every review seems to be the same, Ill still check it out but eh ;|

    Thanks for sharing :)

  23. Yeah, I would recommend it just in case you end up liking it more. It certainly had potential, I thought. I also had high hopes for the novel but unfortunately, it just wasn't for me.