Plot: 3/5 Characters: 2/5 Writing: 2/5 Entertainment: 3/5 World Building: 4/5
“Transfixion” is a relatively easy YA science-fiction read with an interesting premise and some decent action, but a lack-luster protagonist and unexceptional writing stop it from being incredible.
Kaylee’s life is thrown into chaos when an unknown force takes control of her city’s TV broadcast system and turns its citizens into hypnotized soldiers. Alone and suddenly unable to speak, Kaylee must figure out how to survive in this new world, find her father, and help bring peace back to the world.
One thing I love about YA sci-fi is how imaginative it can be and “Transfixion” is no exception. Since binge-watching Netflix has become a national past time, the “take-over-the-air-waves” scenario is the perfect balance of far-fetched and believable to suck readers in. It definitely sucked me in. I wanted to know how the characters were going to stop a force that they can’t really touch or pin down and the curiosity held me until the end of the book.
Unfortunately, Kaylee was my guide on the journey. I don’t think she’s a bad character per say, she’s just not interesting enough to be the protagonist. For the first half of the book she has the strangest set of priorities I’ve ever seen in a post-apocalypse book, which was off putting. Not only that, but she’s incredibly disengaged with the world around her. By the time she comes around, there’s not enough book left to make her anything more than a Katniss Everdeen-Tris Prior wannabe. If a key component of a story is going to be survival, the protagonist needs to be interested in surviving most, if not the entire course of the book, not just the second half. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the focus should have been on one of the boys, either Lucas or Dustin. Some of her issues, however, might have been due to the writing.
Usually, I give writers a lot of slack when it comes to mechanics. If the story and characters are strong I let the actual writing slide, but the characters were so weak and the narration so sloppy that I was constantly being distracted. I was constantly being told what was going on rather than being shown. Humans rely on a lot of avenues to communicate what they’re thinking and feeling and there are a plethora of ways to describe settings and action, but I don’t think Giambrone really took full advantage of that. Telling us everything was just easier. In the end, that really hurt what could have been a phenomenal book.
All and all, I think “Transfixion” could have been great if Giambrone had a beta-reader or two look at it. Maybe then Kaylee and the writing would have been stronger. The premise really lends itself to the genre and I’m quite disappointed it didn’t live up to its potential. However, I’m still glad I gave it a try, so if you like to focus on ideas rather than characters and you don’t pay much attention to writing, “Transfixion” just might be your next YA sci-fi fix.