Jan 13, 2020

 

Book Review - Ordinary, Ordinary #1 (by Starr Z. Davies)

Title: Ordinary
Series: Ordinary (book #1)
Author: Starr Z. Davies
Genre: Science Fiction, Mystery & Thriller, Post-Apocalyptic, Young Readers
Publisher: Pangea Books
Release Date: March 24th, 2020
Format: Paperback
Pages: 368
 


"Divinic. Somatic. Psionic. Naturalist. Who will you be?

Having a superpower is ordinary. Your power determines your job, social class, and future success.


But Ugene doesn’t have a Power. The only thing special about him is that he isn’t special at all. Ugene is Powerless.


Despite desperate self-inflicted research, he can find no traces of the Powers in him. Ugene’s prospects dwindle, and he learns that his father is suffering a degenerative disease that will soon kill him.


So when the most prominent biomedical research company in the city offers Ugene a solution, he jumps at the possibility to be ordinary. All he has to do is agree to allow them to use him in their research. But the longer he stays at the research facility, the more he realizes something isn’t right.


Friendships are forged. Trust is broken built and broken. And everything Ugene thought he understood and believed is called into question.


Who can Ugene trust in his search for answers? What is he willing to sacrifice for Powers?"




Ordinary (Ordinary #1)
(read an excerpt on starrzdavies.com)


- Review -
What Made Me Read It
I was sent a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. The author described it as a young adult sci-fi dystopian novel, inspired by her love for superheroes like Batman and Spiderman; Starr Davies also mentioned she gained a reputation as the "Character Assassin", while pursuing a degree in creative writing, for her "habit of utterly destroying her characters emotionally and physically". This hinted at good potential for character growth and a novel I might enjoy reading so I decided to give it a go.
 

The Plot
A devastating civil war between humans with enhanced abilities and those without left the planet a barren place incapable of sustaining life. The few survivors banded together to build Elpis, a sanctuary among the destruction where powered people worked together to heal the ruined soil and save humanity. Now Elpis is facing a new threat, as more people are being born with weaker powers or succumbing to degenerative diseases, taking them one step closer to extinction again.
 

In a world where the strength of one's power determines social status and wealth, Ugene Powers is at a serious disadvantage. Born without enhanced abilities, Ugene doesn't qualify for any of the Four Branches of Power that define their society, and in his last year of high school Ugene has no future prospects. When his own father shows signs of suffering from Muscular Degeneration, Ugene sees only one way out - to volunteer as a test subject in Dr. Cass' research to stop Regression.
 

But there's more to Paragon Diagnostics than meets the eye and soon Ugene is faced with a hard choice - remain at the testing facility for a chance to gain normal powers and save his father from a fatal disease, or help his fellow test subjects escape a gruesome existence and Proposition 8.5.
 

The Good
"Ordinary" is the first book in the 'Ordinary' series, a young adult sci-fi novel set in a futuristic post-apocalyptic world, told in the first person through the eyes of the main character, a powerless teenage boy in his last year of high school struggling to find his place in a society of powered people. The story is divided in 3 parts: part 1 introduces both the world - the sanctuary city of Elpis, and the main character - Ugene Powers; part 2 follows Dr. Cass' research on Regression and its impact on each of the test subjects, as Ugene adapts to life at Paragon Tower; part 3 explores Ugene's personal struggles as he is forced to take on a role he's unprepared for, with dire consequences on a personal level and society as a whole.
 

The plot is fast-paced, with thrilling action sequences where the test subjects use their powers to survive the trials, and plenty of suspense with an ongoing mystery, as Ugene tries to piece the puzzle together and discover the true purpose behind Paragon Diagnostics' research. The worldbuilding is complex and imaginative: the Four Branches of Power (somatic - powers that enhance the body, psionic - powers enhanced by the mind, divinic - powers linked to the cosmic universe and naturalist - powers that can manipulate the natural world); Testing Day and Career Day, to determine enhanced abilities and social status; Regression, a fast-spreading degenerative condition; the Consumption Tax and Proposition 8.5, a controversial law that discriminates citizens with weaker powers; futuristic sim tests all too realistic and deadly... all these elements help build the powered society of Elpis and move the plot forward.
 

The characters are well developed and realistic, with believable motivations and goals, be it survival or pursuit of knowledge and power at any cost. Ugene in particular shows strong emotional growth throughout the story: ostracized and bullied his whole life, he goes from just wanting to be ordinary with common powers like everyone else, to volunteer as a medical research test subject in order to save his father from a fatal disease, to take on an unwanted leadership role when he's forced to make hard decisions that could affect all those around him - from being "that powerless kid" to the "harbinger of hope", Ugene learns that enhanced abilities and powers doesn't equate to true strength.
 

Final Rating
"Ordinary" is the first book in the 'Ordinary' series, a young adult sci-fi novel set in a futuristic post-apocalyptic world, fast-paced with thrilling action sequences and plenty of suspense with an ongoing mystery. Recommended for those who enjoy science fiction and stories about characters with super powers, personal struggles and moral dilemmas.


• • • •



- About the Author -
Website: starrzdavies.com
Twitter: @SZDavies
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Historical Fiction
 

STARR Z. DAVIES is a Midwesterner at heart and lives in Wisconsin with her husband and kids. From a young age, Starr has been obsessed with superheroes like Batman and Captain America, which inspired her novel, ORDINARY. If Starr had a superpower, she would be an Empath because she is an emotional sponge and easily relates to how others feel.
 

While pursuing a degree in Creative Writing from the University of Wisconsin, Starr gained a reputation as the "Character Assassin" because she had a habit of utterly destroying her characters both emotionally and physically.
 

In her free time, Starr loves watching Doctor Who and anything with superheroes, reading books (duh!), writing about her favorite fantasy stories (Song of Ice and Fire, Mistborn, The Wheel of Time), and staring out the window as she dreams up more stories. Oh, and sometimes she steps out the door!
 

5 Fun Facts About Starr:
  1. Starr is short for Starrburst, her given Native American name.
  2. Starr is a big fan of cheesy puns and 5th grade humor and will often laugh at her own jokes before anyone else. Ex: What’s ET short for? Cuz he’s got small legs!
  3. Starr's favorite quote is from Batman Begins (of course, a superhero!): “It’s not who you are, but what you do that defines you.” She tries to live by this ideology.
  4. Starr loves to fantasize about who would star in a film as her characters. In fact, she sometimes “casts” actors on her social media feeds by posting pictures. After seeing Detective Pikachu, no one else but Justice Smith would satisfy her as Ugene.
  5. If she were to choose a superhero whose personality is most like her own, Starr would be Spiderman—nerdy, awkward, and witty, but always eager to do the right thing to help others.
(source: starrzdavies.com)


Next in the series: Unique, Ordinary #2 (book review)



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1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for your wonderful, honest review! It made my day. I can't wait to share Ugene and his amazing story with the world!

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